Hi guys! Would you like to introduce yourselves?
Sure! We’re Nicolò, Roberto and Carola, and we’re the founders of indig communication. We’re 29, 25 and 23 respectively and we’re all from Padua, although we originally come from different parts of Italy. But we met in Padua, where we developed a deep friendship, which was our motivation to create indig.
Apart from our common work experience in the retail sector, we have different backgrounds and educations, which later came together in the communication field.
We chose to work together because we know that we share the same values and vision of the world, and so we founded indig in December 2020, with a great desire to change the world and digital communication (and also a little carelessly, because we threw ourselves into it without much thought).
Can you tell us about the indig communication project?
At the moment, we publicise inclusive communication and digital accessibility matters online, but we will soon be expanding our offering to include training and consultancy to organisations and freelance professionals.
We have just launched our website (www.indig.info) and a guide we have written, a sort of intensive course in pdf format which explains how to communicate correctly (from a marketing and corporate perspective) during Pride month, and in general when touching on topics pertaining to the LGBTQ+ community. .
In general, what we do is work to deconstruct the cultural habits which exclude diversity from the conversation, trying to explain how people can change the manner in which they communicate. These topics are increasingly becoming an essential value required to firm up an organisation’s CSR efforts, helping bolster the reputation of anyone with an online image
At the same time, a focus on inclusivity in one’s language represents an important social value which can feed a virtuous circle of solidarity which we want to be part of.
We started off communicating on social networks because, as they are part of so many people’s daily lives, we believe they are a good way to spread this kind of information. We see hundreds of pieces of content on social media every day, and for this reason we believe that we can start there: sometimes very little is required to make them inclusive and accessible to whoever wants to make use of them.
Left: Roberto, Middle: Carola, Right: Nicolò
For those who are not engaged in communication, it can be disorienting to find out how many different aspects you need to consider in order to communicate in an inclusive manner – how did you get started?
We actually started to get interested in these areas at different times and for different reasons.
Nicolò has years of experience with LGBTQ+ activism, and over time he “trained” us, in a manner of speaking on the importance of “correct” language.
All three of us naturally have a strong sense of justice regarding discrimination, so we can say that our evolution as people who decided to inform themselves and study to become “better” towards those who are discriminated against led us to deal with these matters on a daily basis.
We perfectly understand that, for those approaching these issues for the first time, all the information which needs to be taken into account can be disorienting and confusing, and even reduce the desire to commit to them a bit. What we think is fundamental, however, is to always engage in discussion, and to choose to inform yourself as much as possible; it doesn’t have to be all at once, but must be done with respect.
We also think that a good way to “learn” is to take a step back and apologise. People do make mistakes, because it is difficult to know everything there is to know in order not to discriminate against or offend anyone, but recognising your errors and learning from them is the way to get back on the right track.
During the translation process, we often come up against the need to find neutral solutions to address players, to translate dialogues or to give voices to non-binary characters.
While in English we can simply use the pronouns they/them, there is not yet a definitive solution for Italian. Could you explain why it is important for people to specify their own pronouns and ask what the preferred pronouns are for the people they are talking to?
Gender neutrality in the Italian language is, indeed, a very complex topic, and until a practical solution has been found, above all for the spoken language, the only way to address non-binary people or those who prefer neutral pronouns is to rework your sentences to use neutral words and forms, avoiding gender declinations as much as possible
But of course you should respect the linguistic forms that your interlocutor prefers to refer to them. In any case, while it may be more difficult than in English, it is not a completely impossible task. There is almost always a way out from such linguistic impasses, and at the end of the day, that’s what our job is.
Getting used to specifying our pronouns, and asking the person we are interacting with to provide theirs, is key in getting used to not taking for granted what our eyes tell us.
Asking someone for pronouns also demonstrates that you are attentive towards the person or people you are communicating with, and helps everyone who uses neutral pronouns, or pronouns different from those which you may assume from their physical appearance, to feel included in the conversation.
It can be difficult for some people to correct someone who is using the wrong pronouns, so asking what they are in advance can also help prevent such embarrassing situations.
For a very long time, video games have been the almost exclusive preserve of white male players. Nevertheless, things have started to change in the last few years, sometimes following traumatic events.
What are your thoughts on videogames as a medium to increase representation of marginalised groups?
We believe that representation, when done right (therefore avoiding caricatures, stereotypes and the like) is essential in any form of mass communication.
We don’t know the world of video games very well, but considering their popularity and their role as training tools for many people, we are sure that they can be the perfect medium to increase representation of those who don’t usually find much space in the media.
Videogames can also be an excellent tool for talking about discrimination and minorities in a familiar manner to those portions of the population who are less attentive to these topics, even for purely cultural reasons – being a man in a patriarchal society, cisgender in a cisnormative society, heterosexual in a heteronormative society, white in a predominantly white society, etc. makes many people blind to the difficulties encountered by those who find themselves in a non-privileged position for one or more of these characteristics.
Do you believe that representing and giving a voice to many different categories of people can also help sensitise those who are not familiar with them or who harbour prejudices?
Undoubtedly yes, with time. Unfortunately, prejudices are difficult to eradicate, it takes time and often the right language.
Talking about and representing them more and more certainly helps us see marginalised people as not being so far from our own experiences or as outsiders, which is often what feeds judgement and prejudice.
On your page you also talk about accessibility – can you give us some tips to use when creating videogames, and multimedia content more generally?
As we unfortunately don’t have specific training in the videogame field, we would suggest some tips which can apply to all audiovisual content.
The first thing is to take care to avoid media directed at one of the senses only. The general rule is therefore that audio content should be accompanied by text, while visual content should be accompanied by audio content, or else you should provide the possibility to access the contents of the image with assistance software, like when entering alt text for an image, for instance.
At a practical level, you should therefore include:
– Subtitles for all spoken content, in order to allow the deaf or hearing-impaired to understand the dialogue (as well as simply all those who prefer to read speech rather than listen to it).
The subtitles must be clear and easily visible, as well as high-contrast where possible in order to allow them be seen against a moving background. A simple and unfussy font should also be used. The size should also not be too small.
– Audio recorded for all written content, in order to allow blind or sight-impaired people to access the text. The audio must be clear and clean, with the worlds clearly pronounced and without excessive background noise.
Clear and clean audio, like clear and legible writing in a simple font, are things which also help those who struggle at a cognitive level for whatever reason to concentrate on reading, listening or processing a lot of information in a short space of time.
It is also advisable to avoid excessive visual stimuli such as flashing lights in order to prevent convulsions in those with such a sensitivity. If it is not possible to completely eliminate such visual stimuli, it is essential to provide advance warning of them.
As far as we have been able to tell, however, the world of videogames is significantly further ahead of other media in this area.
@indig.communication’s IG profile is a precious resource for those looking for clear, in-depth instructions on how to communicate in an inclusive manner. Can you recommend any other sources?
First and foremost, we have learned a lot from many people we follow and know who talk about their direct experience as members of socially marginalised groups on a daily basis on social media.
The best way to understand how to talk about their experiences in a correct and respectful manner is to listen to them.
We have also created (and are still working on) a series of video interviews with some of these people, which we have published on our channels. They are all people we would strongly recommend following: Lunny (instagram.com/lunnylunnylunny), who talked to us about autism; Chiara Pennetta (instagram.com/the.undeaf) who talked to us about deafness, with regard to language but also accessibility; Biancamaria Furci (instagram.com/farewell_bi), editor-in-chief of Bossy (another publication we would strongly recommend – www.bossy.it), who talked about fat acceptance and body positivity with us.
Staying on the topic of inclusivity, maybe one of the people we have cited the most is sociolinguist Vera Gheno, whose reflections on inclusive use of language are amongst the most expert and interesting around (her Facebook profile is public, while her Instagram handle is @a_wandering_sociolinguist).
We could recommend dozens of profiles, but maybe the best way to get some suggestions is to look at the profiles we follow with our Instagram account!
We also follow many accounts that talk about accessibility on the web; one in particular is called Access Guide (instagram.com/access_guide_).
There are also official guidelines for these matters created by the World Wide Web Consortium which can be consulted when creating digital content: www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag).
Happy Pride Month!