When it comes to brainstorming marketing ideas and developing communications plans, how comprehensively do companies take into consideration accessibility – how a person with a disability can access a website, system or application and also how positive their experience is while using it and consuming its content? The answer unfortunately is: probably not enough.
We know that technology has helped make the world a far smaller and more accessible place to the majority. Yet what about those who find accessing the digital world a physical or mental challenge?
It is clear there is definitely room for improvement in digital marketing when it comes to ensuring better accessibility. A creative and innovative idea can make for an incredibly successful campaign but, in some cases, it can also mean an entire community of people is completely unaware and unengaged.
A missed opportunity
The numbers are difficult to ignore.
- According to the Equality Act 2010, a person is considered to have a disability if they report a long-standing illness, disability or impairment which causes difficulty with day-to-day activities1
- 1 in 5 people – 13.3 million individuals – are disabled
- It was predicted that by 2020 the number of people with sight loss would rise to over 2,250,000
- About 4.5% of the entire UK population is colour blind
- Additionally, there are approximately 10 million people in the country with a form of hearing loss
Not considering the needs of the visually and hearing-impaired when creating digital content means there are huge numbers of people who companies are missing out on communicating and engaging with.
Having a strong digital accessibility strategy integrated as part of a digital communication plan would help companies potentially attract 20% more customers. It would also show what kind of role a company wants to play in its community – that the organisation highly values inclusivity by removing the digital barriers to access and allowing customers with disabilities to be part of the conversation.
With marketing and communications teams under more and more pressure to deliver results, generate leads and support constantly increasing sales targets, making digital accounts and websites more accessible is a corporate and moral responsibility that can have the added benefit of a fantastic commercial advantage.
Ultimately, designing digital campaigns and platforms for people who cannot see or hear can lay a great foundation for those who can. From concept through to execution, organisations need to cater for the disabled community and make sure that they don’t discriminate against them through accidental omission. So, this year, see if your organisation can make the conscious effort to ensure that your communications and marketing activities are more inclusive.
How to make digital content more accessible
So, what can we do to make sure that no potential customer is left behind? The great news is that some small changes can make a huge difference particularly because most disabled people are already likely to be using accessibility software such as magnification, text-to-speech or braille displays.
Here are six easy ways to make your content and platforms more accessible.
1. Alt-text to your images
Describing your website and social media images with alternative text (alt text) allows visually impaired people to build up a mental picture of what they contain. The alt text should simply describe what is in the image, i.e. ‘Woman running in a park wearing BRAND shoes’.
Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter all allow you to update the alt text of the images you upload. Alt-text is also a great way to improve your website SEO. Search engines, such as Google, look for image information to give users the best results when they perform a search query.
So not only will alt text make your platforms more user-friendly, it will also help increase traffic to your websit-.
2. Make sure your videos have subtitles
Subtitles are a great and easy way to make your content accessible to anyone suffering hearing-loss. Additionally, 40% of Instagram stories are viewed with the sound off, so subtitles and captions can help increase your engagement with pretty much everyone.
3. Provide podcast transcripts for your hearing-impaired audience
Transcripts are an accessibility feature. For people with significant hearing loss, reading a transcript is effectively the only way to enjoy your content.
Some podcast platforms, such as acast, offer transcription services and you can also find many automated transcription tools online. However, I would always recommend reviewing and copy-editing the automated version, so you give your audience the most authentic experience.
4. Make your hashtags screen-reader friendly
At least 80% of disabled people use the internet and social media almost daily. This means that all social media accounts should be optimised for any specialised software they may use. One quick way to increase accessibility is to capitalise the first letter of each word in your hashtag, for example #EasierToRead. This helps the screen-readers identify the words in the hashtag and read them out correctly.
5. Be mindful of colour contrast issues
Saturated colour clashes may be trendy, but these can be difficult to appreciate by anyone with colour-blindness.
When you can, try only using shades of a single hue. A colour-blind user will see all the tones and contrasts but in a different tint. Avoid using too many colours to convey key information, and make sure to use icons and labels if you are asking your clients or prospects to fill in an online form.
6. Consider the type of font and the size you use
Typography is one of the most important considerations of accessibility design. Usually, less is more when it comes to font. Pick one that is easy to read, such as Arial or Helvetica, and limit the number of fonts and variations (bold, italic, etc) you use on your website.
Also make sure that the text is displayed in a readable size, ideally 14pt minimum, and/or make sure that your website has an option to change the text size.
Not sure how to make your content more accessible? Want to get more advice to improve your online inclusivity strategy? The Difference Collective has a team of digital communications experts who are able to help you reach all your potential customers. Get in touch to find out how we could help you.
About the Author
Claire Delplancq is a Digital Communications Manager with more than nine years’ experience working in healthcare and technology. She works with clients to conceive communications plans which help support their goals by leveraging PR, digital, influencers and on/off-page SEO tactics. She is also a lifestyle content creator and a Difference Collective consultant.