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Incorporating Inclusive Images

Student in a wheelchair studying for college exams with another student

Recently, an illustration by Chidiebere Ibe has made its way through the Twitterverse, and with it, a needed and necessary conversation about using inclusive images across disciplines and learning environments. Ibe's illustration is a diagram that likely all of us have seen a thousand times: the body of a pregnant mother with a gestating fetus. What made Ibe's illustration go viral was that these bodies--unlike many of those in medical resources--were black.

As educators, we make decisions about what images, bodies, resources, voices, and experiences do--and do not--get incorporated into our classrooms. Images like Ibe's loudly call out those choices and ask us to question our teaching status quo. Using images like Ibe's in the classroom also gives us opportunities to invite our students to our classrooms, open doors for discussions, and ask hard questions about representation.

As you review and reflect on the images you're selecting for your classroom, consider using inclusive image databases such as:

  • Women of Color in Tech: This stock photo library offers free images for technology educators that feature women of color in the discipline.

  • CreateHERStock: Offers some free and premium images of women of color. Usage and licensing vary.

  • Black Illustrations: Offers a large database of free and premium illustrations featuring black characters.

  • Gender Spectrum Collection: Vice provides a database of images gender-inclusive images that includes topics like technology, relationships, and health.

  • Can We All Go: Offers some free and some premium images of plus-sized women.

  • Disability In: Offers a database of stock photography featuring disability-inclusive images.

  • Affect the Verb: Offers a library of stock photos that feature Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC).

After selecting an inclusive image, we also need to incorporate that image into our classroom in ethical and accessible ways. As with all images, we need to abide by usage rights provided by the authors and publishers, including images credits, links, and citations as appropriate. We also need to make sure that our inclusive images are also accessible by using alt-text to provide thoughtful and purposeful descriptions.


Want to join us for more conversations about using multimedia in the classroom? Join the OLT Community of Practice where we discuss these topics (and many more!) with educators from around the world.

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