Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Style Guide

Recommended by the ATLIS DEI Advisory Committee (2022)


Blindspots and biases exist in all of us. As a learning organization, ATLIS strives to ensure that our approaches, communications, and messages are consistently inclusive of all cultures and races. Language, like society, constantly shifts and evolves, and contains great complexity. Many organizations have wrestled with crafting and updating style guides for cultural inclusion. Therefore, after reviewing multiple existing frameworks, we have determined at this time primarily to rely upon the California State University’s Diversity/Inclusivity Style Guide, except with regard to disability language; for that, we will turn to the American Psychological Association’s Style Guide, which, in striving to seek bias-free language, stresses the preferences of members of the disability community. 

  • Diversity/Inclusivity Style Guide | CSU

    • “As the country's most diverse and largest public four-year institution of higher learning, the California State University has a particular obligation in setting the example for inclusiveness.

Staff from a range of departments at the CSU Chancellor's Office have created a guide that attempts to address common questions that may arise when CO staff create or modify content that is about and/or speaks to particular groups of people.”

Other examples of particular note from the Diversity/Inclusivity Style Guide | CSU

  • “The singular "they": In March 2017, the Associated Press voted to accept the singular they (as well as them/their ) as a gender-neutral pronoun when he/she or her/him is not accurate or preferred.

  • African American / Black (the B in Black is capitalized; African American is not hyphenated)

  • Hispanic / Latino/a / Latinx and related terms

  • Asian American and Pacific Islanders and related terms (no hyphen)

  • Native American and related terms (no hyphen)

  • Caucasian / White (the W in white is now capitalized, following the June 2020 recommendation of the National Association of Black Journalists: "NABJ also recommends that whenever a color is used to appropriately describe race then it should be capitalized, including White and Brown.")

  • “When you are writing, you need to follow general principles to ensure that your language is free of bias. Here we provide guidelines for talking about disability with inclusivity and respect.”

  • “Disability is a broad term that is defined in both legal and scientific ways and encompasses physical, psychological, intellectual, and socioemotional impairments (World Health Organization, 2001, 2011). The members of some groups of people with disabilities—effectively subcultures within the larger culture of disability—have particular ways of referring to themselves that they would prefer others to adopt. When you use the disability language choices made by groups of disabled individuals, you honor their preferences. For example, some Deaf individuals culturally prefer to be called ‘Deaf’ (capitalized) rather than “people with hearing loss” or “people who are deaf” (Dunn & Andrews, 2015). Likewise, use the term “hard of hearing” rather than ‘hearing-impaired.’ Honoring the preference of the group is not only a sign of professional awareness and respect for any disability group but also a way to offer solidarity.”

  • “The language to use where disability is concerned is evolving. The overall principle for using disability language is to maintain the integrity (worth and dignity) of all individuals as human beings. Authors who write about disability are encouraged to use terms and descriptions that both honor and explain person-first and identity-first perspectives. Language should be selected with the understanding that the expressed preference of people with disabilities regarding identification supersedes matters of style.”

Accessible and Inclusive Graphic Design Style Guides

Accessibility and inclusivity are important factors to consider when designing materials and websites for people with visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive disabilities. The following resources offer guidance on how to design inclusive and accessible materials: