Inclusive Storytelling in Higher Education

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Anne Stefanyk, CEO and Founder of Kanopi Studios, joined the podcast to talk about the concept of inclusive storytelling and using language that helps ensure our students can picture themselves in our institution’s story.

 

Kanopi Studio's Accessible Media Presentation
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxR3A-Se40c

Kanopi Studio's Inclusive Content Strategy Presentation
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BWxtqXURGQ&t=6s

Kanopi Studio's Blog: Accessibility Tools
https://kanopi.com/blog/web-accessibility-best-tools/

Inclusivity. Make sure that your individualscan really relate to your content and if it's not accessible, it's not relatable. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional developmentpodcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university.Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources,you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome backto enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect eedu podcast network.I'm Eric Olson with Helix Education and we're here today with Ann Stephanick, CEOand founder of Canopy Studios, and welcome to the show. Thank you forhaving me. Really excited to talk with you today about the concept of inclusivestorytelling. Before we dig in, can you give the listeners a little bitbetter understanding of Canopy Studios? So Canopy...

Studios is a web development agency.We Build, design and support websites for clients that want to make a positiveimpact and we work a lot with higher education as well as nonprofit and folksthat are more mission driven. Love it and to kick off our conversation today, can you give us a high level overview of what it means to createinclusive content. For sure. So inclusive content strategy really is presenting your digitalcontent in a way that really reach is enabled to speak at the largest audience, regardless of what makes us different. So it's really focusing on creating contentthat is, you know, filled with empathy, awareness and making sure yourcontent is really relatable. Yes, what's dig into some specific examples of this. Can you walk us through the difference between speaking with versus speaking at inaudience? For sure. So the power...

...of speaking with is to acknowledge thehuman and their points of view and really bring them into the conversation. There'sa great quote from Verna and it says Verna Myers says diversity is being invitedto the party, inclusion is being asked to dance, and I thought thatwas super powerful because when you're talking about it's pretty much about instead of showingoff, it is showing the way. So for example that I can giveis it's the difference of saying, like, let's say you have a zoologist programyou know, you could be saying on your website you will be studyingwith us to be a zoologist and here are the courses and here are professorsversus asking questions on your website like do yourself. Do you see yourself workingwith animals, studying animals? If so, we can provide the pathway for you. Yeah, so what are some of those kind of other important thingsto be aware of when pursuing inclusivity? You've talked about some of these keysto inclusive communications. What are those? Yeah, so first off it's reallypositioning your user as the hero and you...

...as the Guide and really helping themsee themselves in your communication. When you're thinking about the keys to inclusivity,is you want to avoid using very specific terms unless it's absolutely needed. Forexample, if you're offering a woman studies, course you definitely want to promote thefemale aspects of the story, but you can leave it out if it'snot needed. It's also really important to make sure that your content, ifit doesn't need pronouns and then leave them out, or if you are goingto be including pronouns, then make sure that you include both he she aswell as they them. You know, I I can give an example like, for example, if you have your application form, if you are goingto be watching like asking for demographic information, you may want to be careful abouthow much you ask because it may turn off your user. You wantto really acknowledge that people have a variety of backstories. For example, somepeople just say single or married, but...

...some people have they're turned off bythat. So you may want to say married or in partnership or single.So kind of taking a look at making sure that the form filters that youhave on your application form are inclusive and they don't essentially turn off your users. When we're talking about inclusive storytelling, how does and should accessibility play arole? So that's a great question, because inclusivity make sure that your individualscan really relate to your content and if it's not accessible, it's not relatable. So, for example, if you have low contrast text, people whoare visually impaired can't perceive these. You know. Another example is if youput this social sharing links above the content when you're using a screen reader,they won't be able to actually share the content without going back to the beginningof the article. So to make sure that your content is inclusive for socialsharing across all folks, you want to be able to make sure that you'vetaken care of those accessibility. You know...

...items like, for example, youmay have this amazing administrative video that you know shows beautiful tours, but ifyou don't have captions on them, you're not telling the story to everybody.And there's also the as a reminder that not all folks have perceived disabilities butthey still may use the accessibility tools. For example, if we have ayou know, a busy mother who's on the bus and who has two orthree children around them but still wants to look up something on on the Internet, still being able to use captions very easily without having to turn on anddevice allows all people in all situations to be able to digest your content andcreate more inclusivity. The examples are super helpful as we are developing new websites, creating new stories. anythings for us to keep top of mind to makesure that we are thinking from an excess ssability first mindset? Yeah, Ithink there is a bunch of tools out there that I can actually share inthe show notes so people can can actually...

...test. What they have right nowis a baseline, but there's some basic things like color contrast, spacing oflinks, captions. A big one is not having videos autoplay or, ifyou do have videos, making sure that the user has the ability to pauseand play. You also want to be mindful about your content in terms ofhaving vague calls to action like, for example, using the words read moreor learn more. Are Vague, so it would be nice to have acall to action read more about this or learn more about that. And ifvisually, if you're working with it a content management system that doesn't allow youto write over these buttons, you can do something with programming tools to havenon visual content queues. So there's lots of little things that you can doon your website, including even basic things like making sure that you add alttakes to all of your images. And if you want to try it out, every computer is already set up with a screen reader, so if youwanted to turn that on and your accessibility...

...tools and try navigating a website,you'll see what is really easy and what is not. Starbucks actually does awonderful job of making sure that their website is very accessible. So if youwant to go just to a starbucks website and check it out and then goand check out your website, you'll automatically see some of the differences, agreat advice and the super helpful information for us. And finally, any finalnext steps advice? After we get back from starbucks website and realize how muchwork we have to do, what are those next steps we can take towardsmoving to inclusive storytelling at our institutions? How do we operationalize that? Ofcourse, I think that's a really great question. I mean, first off, people want to be able to see themselves within their content. So ifyou want to really just as very low hanging fruit is, you can lookat image representation. If folks of also be able to is that if you'reworking with your marketing team, that you...

...probably have persona's built out to actuallywant to build some of this stuff into your persona basis. Looking at likedata sets and doing your research on what our best practices is a great way. But really one thing that's really helpful is that, once you think you'vegot it, then go out and test, you know, talk to your communityask if they see and feel themselves as part of your communication strategy.Because when it comes to storytelling and making an inclusive you first off of coursewant to position the end user as the hero and you as the guide.So if you're, you know, a department or a large university or acommunity college, whenever it is, you actually have to get to know yourusers to be able to represent them. So doing strategic user research helps thenbuild that into the story and then it is about kind of building it intoyour culture a little bit more. So, for example, you want to makeit very easy for them to connect with you. So making sure thatwhen you position yourself, you have some...

...transactional ctias and then some direct CTAsor calls to action, and those can really be, you know, specificto certain pages. But again, it's about helping them solve their problem.So, as a student WHO's coming to the you know, wanting to findout what programs are available, you could be able to do a small transactionalCTA to ask them, you know, do a little quiz on what typesof things are you interested in and, you know, do like painting?Do you like math, and kind of go through kind of a questionnaire,which ultimately the in the end it's helping them decide maybe what program you cancollect an email address and then do some indirect follow up and, you know, guide them to the next step and then, when they're ready have thatdirect CTA, making it really easy for them to click on the apply nowbutton. And thanks so much for your time today and those wonderful, wonderfulnext step ideas. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you theyhave any follow up questions, of course.

So you can find me. Mywebsite is canopy, Ka and OPICOM and you're easily to connect with meon the contact form or send me an email. My first name is Annwith an e at canopy, Ka and OPICOM. You can also find meand canopy on Linkedin or social media, and we do have a couple ofother resources that I'm happy to share. We've recently done a bunch of trainingaround how to create accessible media, how to create accessible social media and howto create an inclusive content strategy overall. So I'm happy to share those linksif people want to check them out and if you have any other questions,with very successibility experts on staff that would be happy to also sit down forfifteen minutes and do kind of a strategy session and just take a look atthings with you. Awesome. Thanks against so much for joining us today andthank you so much for having me attracting today's new post traditional learners means adoptingnew enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth isuniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in...

...this new education landscape, and Helixhas just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brandnew content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloadedtoday for free at Helix Educationcom. Playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth universityfrom Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribeto the show on Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so muchfor listening. Until next time.

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