Core Values of the Innovative Media Research and Extension Department

Our Mission: Why We Do What We Do

Updated June, 2023

Inspired by the Extension mission of this land-grant, Minority-Serving, and Hispanic-Serving Institution, we apply university-based research to create effective and meaningful transformational media for New Mexicans and beyond. We strive to be innovative by producing tools that reflect the most recent research in learning and technology and by offering a workplace and work processes that enable the best experiences for our team members.

Our team feels strongly that effective transformation requires a commitment to mission-driven work, and a workplace that fosters growth and support. Our end goal is to create high-quality products that represent a wide variety of individuals and are accessible to a wide range of users and their various needs.

Our Shared Assumptions:

Our products are designed for all learners.

  • Transformation is most effective when materials meet the needs of the learner. This is why we prioritize Inclusive Design. When we refer to Inclusive Design, we focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI),  Belonging, and Accessibility: we consider these at every stage of our work (research, need identification, design of materials, production, promotion, and dissemination).
  • Designing towards inclusion makes our products better. By making our products accessible and addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion, our team benefits users and enhances the quality of our products. 
  • We recognize that each of our users has multiple identities and is on a spectrum of needs for their learning and technology use.
  • We acknowledge the historical and systemic injustices felt by marginalized communities and strive to work toward social justice.
  • Inclusive design includes considerations in four key areas:
    • Team formation and support: how we select, hire, support, and facilitate discussion among team members and collaborators.
    • Origin and intent: how we determine needs, where we pull inspiration for stories and design, and the importance of culturally-informed practices.
    • Representation and world building: how we select, create, and share stories, photos, characters, and environments. 
    • Access and dissemination: how users find, access, and interact with our tools. This includes language support, the ways in which we promote and share, and accommodations made for those on a spectrum of accessibility needs.

Our workplace and our colleagues are important.

  • We will do our best. We accept that we may get it wrong, we may have previously worked from a less-informed place, and we will constantly evolve our thinking and approach without shame for our previous mistakes.
  • Collaboration enhances productivity, and we actively encourage relationships with other scholars and developers and across content areas and disciplines.
  • We can support positive change in our team members' lives by enabling health (both mental and physical), pride in work, flexibility in schedule and workplace, and supporting an appropriate work-life balance.
  • A diverse workplace is better for all team members: each person is valued for their individual views, approaches, and collective histories and should be respected for their effort, knowledge, and skill. Each person has something unique to contribute, and new ideas are important.
  • A healthy workplace includes the safety of raising concerns about any product or process, including issues related to inclusive design. It encourages curiosity and growth and accepts imperfections without shame.
  • Honesty and integrity are highly valued. We are each responsible for our effort, our interactions with others, and our stewardship of resources (Including funding, our time and the time of our colleagues) to meet the mission of our university, college, and department.

Our Guidelines for Representation

In our products, we seek to produce media that offers diverse representation, promotes acceptance, includes all learners, and counteracts stereotypes. Individual differences and attributes may include:

  • gender (acknowledging the spectrum);
  • sexual orientation;
  • body shape (weight, height, development, anthropometrics);
  • voice, accent, dialect, way of speaking, vocabulary;
  • skin, eye color, and hair color and style;
  • clothing and vestments, including culturally specific or faith-based;
  • age;
  • social class;
  • national origin, location (city, suburban, rural);
  • social relationships such as living arrangements or family structure;
  • abilities and preferences (such as physical, cognitive, motor or social); and
  • beliefs (such as religious or atheist).

Our Guidelines for Accessibility

We want all users to have access to and enjoy our products. We strive to make our products as accessible as possible, knowing that we will have to make some compromises. 

  • Accessibility lives in the product and not in the user: strong designs match the abilities of the users. We believe that a poor design that does not match a user’s needs disables that person, and a good design that matches users’ needs enables people — so we do our best to create designs that enable as many users as possible.
  • User variability may include:
    • Visual needs: the person has a certain degree of vision loss, such as low vision, legal blindness, complete blindness, and color blindness. This means our products should be reviewed for contrast, color, and on-screen text or visual cues, which provide alternatives for users.
    • Hearing needs: the person has a certain degree of loss in the ability to hear, either from one or both ears, such as deafness, hearing loss, or audio processing difficulties. This is met by offering captioning of both spoken text and other audible cues.
    • Cognitive needs: the person has a mental or psychological disorder that causes a deficit in the ability to learn, process or remember information, communicate, make social interactions, and make decisions. Cognitive disabilities include autism, attention deficit, dyslexia, dyscalculia, and intellectual and memory loss. Some people with cognitive issues need information provided in a way that supports literal language comprehension. Their thinking is more concrete rather than abstract. We address this in a wide variety of ways, including a design that offers explicit cues and expectations to guide users with cognitive needs.
    • Motor needs: the person has a limitation or a loss in mobility function and muscle control, such as arthritis, paralysis, or lack of mobility. We address this by developing resources with interfaces that can easily be mapped to alternative controllers.

Our Commitment to Action

We put our mission and guidelines into practice by:

  • Facilitating ongoing professional development and training, which include multiple perspectives and voices.
  • Integrating inclusive design in all stages of design and production, such as
    • Asking guiding questions in design summits related to these issues;
    • Using it to guide research and scholarship, such as by conducting evaluations or generating research to inform development;
    • Including it in dissemination by mentioning our approaches in articles or presentations;
    • Ensuring it informs discussions with and documentation for clients, including scopes of work, grant proposals, and design documents; and
    • Assessing how audiences receive our efforts through user testing and quality assurance and applying these principles in recruitment and analysis.
  • Creating a formal and ongoing review process of all materials with internal and external reviewers (currently in progress).
  • Transparency in our approach and actively share our process in working towards these values with others in scholarly and professional development fields. 
  • Reviewing this document annually to propose changes and review processes.