I&D Copy and Language Direction

Ensuring Inclusion & Diversity in Our Messaging 


The National Center on Disability and Journalism guide “covers general terms and words on physical disabilities, hearing and visual impairments, mental and cognitive disabilities and seizure disorders.” 


When evaluating your campaigns, web pages or posts, consider the following checklist to your copy and asset messaging are  inclusive:

  • No ableist language (e.g., “I stand with,” “right-hand corner,” “special needs,” or “insane/crazy”)

  • Use people-first language (e.g., “person with a disability”), unless the disabled person has expressed that they prefer identity-first language (i.e., disabled person). The preference of the subject should always take precedent. Reference: When to capitalize for equity, Denver Law Review

  • Write in plain language. Avoid jargon, slang or technical terms unless they are appropriate.

  • Consider your audiences’ cultural associations with the words chosen. Are there specific connotations associated with these words that may convey an unintended meaning? Do we understand the history behind them? In that context, is it appropriate for Bayer to use them?

  • Don’t overuse caps. Full-caps can be difficult to read and misinterpreted by screen readers.

  • Never use quotation marks to call attention to identity, as this can give the appearance of impermanence or choice (i.e., The "nonbinary" teen has…”). 

  • Use an adequate font size. Make sure text is legible, especially when used in images or areas that aren’t modifiable.

  • Avoid saying “click here.” Use descriptive call-to-actions like: Sign up, Try it for free or Subscribe.

  • No flashing images, intense bright colors or visual patterns that could cause seizures or other physical reactions.

  • Convey the content. Consider the difference in information conveyed when you compare “Image of a chart” to something like, “A bar chart illustrates that there has been a year-over-year increase in forest fires, peaking at 100 this year.”
  • Skip saying “image of” or “photograph of,” as the Royal National Institute of Blind People says most screen readers prefer to omit that information. 
  • Mention color if it is important to understanding the image.
  • Share humor. Descriptive text doesn’t have to be overly formal and should do its best to express what’s funny.
  • Transcribe text. If the image has copy that is central to its meaning, make sure you include it in the description.
  • Don’t forget GIFs. Twitter recently made alt-text an option for GIFs. If the platform does not support alt-text, include a description in the action.
  • Keep it clear and consistent to accurately reflect the dialogue
  • Allow time to be read (about 160 words a minute)
  • Avoid obscuring the visual content
  • Usually no more than two lines a caption 
  • Write in proper sentences
  • Capitalize letters using proper nouns and punctuation 
  • Include breaks at appropriate points
  • Background audio should be 20 dB lower than the foreground audio or there shouldn’t be background audio at all. 
  • Include audio descriptions where possible and appropriate, or take care to write voice-overs in a way that negate the need for audio descriptions.