Live from Confab: Speaking Truth to Power: How to Build Equity Through Writing and Design Standards

Speaking Truth to Power: How to Build Equity Through Writing and Design Standards, by Mai-Ling Garcia

Confab 2018 logo“Speaking truth to power” is the belief that love can overcome hatred (according to Urban Dictionary). Or “a powerful nonviolent challenge to injustice and unbridled totalitarian forces, often perpetuated by government, but sometimes not.” (Huffington Post)

What Goes Into a Style Guide?

Mai-Ling asked people at Confab 2016. They said:

It was worthless.

What Goes Into an Inclusive Style Guide

Government was built by old white guys. We (content strategists) need to find the inherent biases they built. But things have changed.

What’s changed?

There are systematic challenges. In Oakland, for example, the company is not taking care of some facts about the city that were not true when the government was created:

  • low literacy rates
  • 100+ languages spoken
  • One of the most diverse places on Earth

How Do We Make it Inclusive?

You can’t just put it in a document and sit it on a shelf.

  1. Build an inclusive team. Age range, skin color, background, all of it.
  2. Infuse inclusive language & design into everyday life.
  3. Make it count. Identify metrics to figure out if you’re successful.
  4. Make it public. Let you audience keep you accountable.
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