While your marketing department may be meeting the creative standards of your brand, have you asked them lately if the content they’re developing can be consumed by all people living with a disability?
There are over 60 million U.S. adults — our neighbors, family members and colleagues — who have some form of disability. That is one in four Americans. Globally, 15% of the world’s population — 1 billion people — experience some form of disability. This number is expected to double by 2050.
The World Health Organization broadly defines a disability as a function of the mismatch between a person’s impairment and the multitude of influencing factors in their environment. Indeed, the disability community is extremely diverse and people with disabilities experience widespread barriers others often take for granted. Furthermore, two individuals with the exact same disability can be affected in completely different ways. As the rates of disability continue to grow, so too does the need for brands to refine their marketing efforts in order to broaden their reach and communicate to this underserved population.
Imagine if the call to action on your ad content was rendered essentially invisible because of the color, size or type of font. Or, what if your ad triggered a reaction from someone with motion sensitivity?
Implications For Business
Though people with disabilities have not historically been embraced as a target market by the private sector, consumers with disabilities and their family members recognize the value in products and services that are inclusive of people with disabilities. A Nielsen study found that households with people with disabilities spent more money per trip and made more shopping trips on average than those without disabilities. It is time we embrace seeing people with disabilities as equals and recognize the business implications for laying the foundation for a more equitable future.
One way businesses can avoid inadvertent barriers to this segment is by focusing marketing efforts on consumers with disabilities and their families.
Why? Because the disability market is not monolithic; it’s multi-layered. If you’re not considering the influence that family members and friends have in purchasing decisions, you’re only seeing one part of the total market who recognize the value in products and services that accommodate all people in society.
Disability can be temporary. Disability can be precipitated by age. Disability can be progressive. And not every disability is visible or immediately obvious to others.
By designing your assets and campaigns with anyone in mind, you’re ensuring that accessibility includes everyone. This likely involves the challenging work of reviewing site content and creatives, and then reformatting or recreating them with accessibility elements that are integrated and prioritized. Going forward, applying universal design principles at the outset and ensuring that all people with disabilities are prospective customers of your brand helps keep accessibility top of mind.
Not only will using inclusive design help you reach more potential customers and grow your business — it also demonstrates your brand’s pledge to serving the needs of as many people as possible. Which, in turn, will lead to a stronger bottom line for your business and greater options for consumers.
How To Think About Design For Inclusivity
Incremental steps can be taken to make sure your content is being built for the largest addressable audience.
Here are five questions to ask before you launch any marketing campaign:
- Is the ad creative’s call to action clear? More important than any clever slogan or punchline is the ability to discern what action can be taken from your campaign. The most creative concept can fall flat if it’s unclear how to interact with your brand; worse so when people are given the impossible task of searching or guessing why an ad creative might have been built.
- Are the fonts used deployed with readability in mind? The visual identity for a brand can often be treated as sacrosanct, but how a brand lives out in the world becomes about one key factor: accessibility. If your logo or fonts are hard to discern, your branding is blocking your customer from interacting meaningfully with you.
- Are you representing text with images? Too often, ads and landing pages are “designed” with such rigidity that designers will inadvertently express text as part of an image rather than ensuring alternative text are added to images. Alt text ensures all users, regardless of visual ability, can consume your content.
- Is the landing page for the campaign designed with accessibility in mind? You’ve done all this work to catch the attention of prospective customers, how do you carry them across the finish line? Ensure that your landing pages and website allow for your visitors to customize their experience with accessibility software.
- Could someone using assistive technology navigate the campaign target pages? By allowing your visitors to customize their experience with you, you’re putting their needs and interests first — the first and last step of any good customer journey.
As marketing leaders, the challenges that exist for people with disabilities have become opportunities for us to serve them. Getting on board with making these necessary changes to improve advertising and to provide an equal-access digital environment today is essential.
It begins with recognizing that there are millions of consumers who are hearing-, vision- or mobility-impaired. Tools and services out there can help your business ensure ad viewability accounts for the needs of those who are disabled. Making inclusion a core part of both the top-down and bottom-up goals of the company embeds the accessibility conversation into your company’s culture.
Top leaders must be accountable — and hold others responsible — for continued progress in ensuring that all employees understand that continued success for the company is only possible when there’s an understanding of the impact and value in recognizing that this community should no longer be overlooked or under-prioritized.
It’s on us to work together to build a digital future that is accessible for all.