As public health professionals, health equity is on our minds now more than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic, social protests, and other recent events have exposed the need for public health to expand its reach and influence in various communities. For years we have relied on the same formulas to disseminate and communicate public health messages, but those methods are often not enough to reach the populations that need health information the most. Fortunately, there are some easy ways public health professionals can work toward these goals. When we build accessibility into our communication design, we not only increase the reach of our message but start to change the social norms around who we are inviting to have a seat at our table. Designing communications for accessibility includes tools like video captioning and image alternative text (alt-text), but it also means addressing cultural accessibility--in other words, is the audience reflected in the language and visual design? While many targeted programs design culturally relevant communications for their specific audience, participants will learn how to include those that have been traditionally ‘othered’ in our more mainstream communications. In this workshop, we will provide an overview of the current standards, show where to find accessible features in software and on websites and social media, and teach participants how to make communications more accessible for every audience. Participants will be challenged to think about how they design everything from websites, to social media graphics, and even PowerPoint presentations. Everyone that talks about health-related issues - from researchers who present their findings at conferences, to health educators, to public health professionals working to advocate for change – will be able to learn new techniques to make their communications more accessible to those who have been traditionally left out. Our communities need our help, and we must rise to the occasion not only to address current inequities but prepare for the next crisis. By equipping participants with real-world skills to improve accessibility in public health communications, we can meet our communities where they are and expand our vision to meet their specific needs.
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