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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Columns and Commentary

Off the Map: Inclusion and exclusion

Kate Edwards

At the core, this topic concerns the perception of inherent equity and fairness. At the very least, we all want to be treated on par with our fellow human beings, regardless of any factors that make us different from them, whether it’s our language, our national origin, our skin/eye/hair color or whatever else. Everyone is aware of the biases of our cultures and the baggage that has been dragged along with them through history, but we thankfully live in an age where parity in treatment is no longer an anomaly, but an expected right. Some cultures continue to emerge in their understanding of this idea and it will take time. But as we create content and develop market strategies, we can and should act now with the conviction that diversity and equity are expected (while, of course, keeping a careful watch on how such concepts are locally perceived).

Many examples of inclusion and exclusion have arisen over the decades in product content and design as well as marketing. In my own time, I’ve seen it arise over both very simple and then very complex issues. For example, for the release of a major business productivity software package some years back, it became obvious that in order to appease the cultural forces of the region, we had to ensure that the Arabic and Hebrew versions of the software were shipped on the same day. This was considered to be fair and equitable, to avoid reinforcing a persistent notion that one group was being favored over another — and to be clear, there had already been some perception of this being the case due to prior product launches. Likewise, we of course had to ensure that the simultaneous releases didn’t conflict with both Jewish and Muslim religious observations. Some managers on the project didn’t see the point of holding up Hebrew’s launch for Arabic, but then they didn’t have a clear grasp on the long-term tensions of the locale and how far-reaching they can be. . .

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Above excerpt taken from the October/November 2012 issue of MultiLingual published by MultiLingual Computing, Inc., 319 North First Avenue, Suite 2, Sandpoint, Idaho 83864-1495 USA, 208-263-8178, Fax: 208-263-6310. Subscribe

October/November, 2012