Image Descriptions: The Power of Everyday Language to Cause Harm

Full description of the featured image for the post “The Power of Everyday Language to Cause Harm“:

Word bubbles show a conversation between two different speakers:

Speaker 1: Words can’t hurt you.
Speaker 2: Yes they can. A lifetime of words have shaped how everyone around me perceives me, and even how I perceive my own worth.
Speaker 1: Grow a thicker skin.
Speaker 2: I’ve endured countless violent insults and threats. You can’t handle being accurately described as racist, sexist, or ableist just once.
Speaker 1: I’m fully confident that I’m right and you’re wrong. I’m smarter than people like you. 
Speaker 2: Want to know how you came to believe those things? Through a lifetime of words.

Below the speech bubbles, a line of text says: Words matter. They shape how we understand the world, each other, and ourselves.

At the bottom of the graphic, the paper the words appear on emerges from a typewriter. Above the typewriter ribbon is the black text www. copyeditor. com with the red word “radical” inserted so that, edited, it reads www. radicalcopyeditor. com.

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Image description: dehumanizing language

A cloud of word bubbles that contain the following words and phrases: criminal aliens, illegals, infest our country, violating our borders, hordes, animals, unending wave, illegal alien invasion, nabbed in a raid, offenders, war zone, illegal immigration onslaught, parasites, flood of bogus asylum-seekers swamping cities, overrun, dirty, alien minors, pouring in, monsters.

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Image description: Pathologizing Language

A cloud of word bubbles that contain the following words and phrases: visually challenged, AIDS victim, afflicted with PTSD, invalid, homebound, mentally ill, confined to a wheelchair, crippled by anxiety, suffering from schizophrenia, stricken with autism, struggling with her weight, deformed, hearing impaired, feeble-minded, mental deficiency, teenagers struggling with their sexuality, brain-damaged, birth defect, poverty-stricken.

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Image Description: Invisibilizing Language

A cloud of word bubbles that contain the following words and phrases: Native Americans believed…, primitive, history starts with white people, the New World, the Plains Indians were…, Columbus discovered the Americas, the USA is a nation of immigrants, a powwow is a quick business meeting, artists are modern-day shamans, Western countries, this land was once the home of…, Indians are in the past, North America was a largely uninhabited wilderness, real Indians are full blood, you don’t look like a real Indian, real Indians wear headdresses, Indians are sports mascots, this land was made for you and me, previous inhabitants.

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Note: Why does this page exist? Because folks who are blind and use screen readers can’t tell what’s in an image without a description, and images like the ones in this blog post deserve a more thorough description than can be provided via alt text. Learn more about web accessibility from WebAIM: Web Accessibility in Mind.