University of Waterloo Inclusive Communications Guide

Two people walking down a ramp with a guide dog on a leash.


Nick Manning, Associate Vice-President, Communications

I am extraordinarily proud to introduce this guide to inclusive communications at the University of Waterloo. This is a document developed by more than 30 dedicated and caring communicators who responded to a call to action to consolidate advice and guidance on ways we can make professional communications at Waterloo more inclusive for the audiences that we serve.

As the campus-wide team developed this guide we kept a few important principles in mind:

• Waterloo is committed to inclusive communications

We understand that this resource is a step in a long journey to keep learning and adjusting to the people and communities we serve and the audiences we reach. All of us who work to support communication with any audience have a responsibility to make our work deliberately inclusive of the audiences we serve.

• We’re not in the business of checklist equity

This is not a guide designed to give communicators simple checks to mark off in the development of communication materials. To serve audiences faithfully, communicators need to “do the work” and invest the time into understanding how our words, images and plans affect the people we are speaking with.

• We’ll stay flexible, because things change

Best practices, advice and guidance will change over time, and may differ depending on the perspectives of individuals or groups you are featuring in your work. This document provides general guidelines – each project will have specific and unique nuances that influence the language, images, design elements and channels that we select.

This guide is a living document that will continue to evolve, so please let us know if we have missed anything or if you have any questions by contacting us at

We have used many external resources to help build our guide as well as our own knowledge and that of the University community. The team, which developed this guide learned lessons together. We hope that this guide provides you with the resources and guidance you need to help you in your journey to being an inclusive communicator.

As communicators, our work is inspired by and reflective of the diverse community of individuals that make Waterloo. I am sure that the care and concern that our campus-wide communication teams have shown in developing this guide shines through. I hope this guide contributes to Waterloo’s strategic plan commitment to “make an impact on its campuses and around the world by fostering inclusivity, a sense of belonging and a culture of involvement.”

On behalf of everyone who contributed to this guide:

Thank you for reading and thank you for committing to inclusive communication practices.