This morning on NPR I heard a story about sensitivity readers who pre-read books from a specific cultural perspective to help authors avoid hurting the sensitivities of members of that specific culture. I was wondering if there is a similar process for vetting cultural sensitivities on websites, much like there are standards for accessibility?

  • 1
    interesting q. could you give a specific example? – Midas Feb 28 '17 at 15:24
  • 1
    I've never worked on a project that has a specific step in the process for this, but every competent visual designer will have learned about what sorts of culturally-sensitive imagery to avoid when designing icons, for example. This was recognised as an issue as far back as the 90's -- William Horton's The Icon Book is one source I can think of that covered it fairly well back then -- and probably before. An experienced copywriter should be able to bring similar experience to the textual content of the site. – calum_b Feb 28 '17 at 18:14
  • Ultimately this is a marketing issue. How best to sell a good or service. I, as an American, am still surprised that KIA is a brand name. And surprised that JVC managed to work in the 1960s and 1970s. One of the reasons Peugeot did so poorly in the US was that it was an unpronounceable name. So - to answer your question. This is what marketing and copy writers are focused on. – Mayo Feb 28 '17 at 22:08

There most definitely is, especially when you get into sites for public figures - like politicians. They often hire PR firms for this type of service and advice.

However, it would be very difficult if not impossible on many websites. The web is growing to be more dynamic and social then ever, maintaining a "sensitivity" awareness in this environment (outside of basic reporting/moderation) would be very challenging.

If you ever read a comment section of a web page, it is very clear that more often than not, the internet is a cruel, insensitive place.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.