I’m going to start this post with a little challenge. Grab the nearest textbook and look through the pages. As you do so, pay special attention to the photos and illustrations and consider this question: What story do the images in the book tell students about the world?
Images dominate the pages of many English language teaching (ELT) courses. They’re used to create visual appeal (decorative images) and they’re used to help students understand all kinds of content from vocab sets to reading texts (functional images). The fact they are so prominent means that they play a big part in constructing the reality the book presents to students.
So, take another look at that textbook. I’m willing to bet that the images represent a world that is largely attractive, Euro- or US- centric, financially comfortable, heteronormative, non-disabled and probably pretty limited in terms of ethnic diversity; a world in which these characteristics are considered normal. This depiction is at best, misleading, and at worst, it excludes students who don’t fit the narrow categories of ‘normal’.
This needs to change. We need to be creating materials with images that represent the world as it is, with all its beautiful diversity. Doing this allows students to see themselves in their materials, improving student engagement and their sense of belonging in the learning environment. What’s more, it helps to prepare students for the real world, making them better global citizens. Consider the effect of presenting the photos below as a complete family.
While many content creators are on board with this in theory, a practical stumbling block is that image banks often lack diverse photos and illustrations. The good news is that there are photo libraries that are starting to fill that diversity gap. So if you’re looking for stunning diverse images for your materials, check out the list below.
Do you know of any other diverse image banks? Let me know in the comments. And, do let me know what you think of the banks as I’ll be updating the list periodically.
|https://bodyliberationphotos.com/body-liberation-stock-body-fat-positive-diverse-photos/||stock images of large bodies|
|https://www.disabilityimages.com/||positive lifestyle imagery of authentic people with real disabilities|
Stock Image Library featuring individuals with disabilities
|https://disabilityin.org/resource/disability-stock-photography/||disability inclusive stock photography|
|https://affecttheverb.com/collection/||disabled Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) across the Pacific Northwest.|
|https://genderphotos.vice.com/||a stock photo library featuring images of trans and non-binary models|
|https://diversityphotos.com/about/||visual content that authentically represents our global community.|
|https://www.wocintechchat.com/blog/wocintechphotos||photos to show a different representation of all women in tech|
|https://www.pocstock.com/||diverse and culturally accurate images of people of color|
|https://www.mochastock.com/||quality images of people of color|
|https://www.nappy.co/||high-res photos of black and brown people|