In 2023, the CDC found that one in four Americans live with a disability. Globally, this equates to 15% of the population, with this number expected to double by 2050. Notably the largest minority population in the world, this group is still often overlooked by marketers, designers, and web developers across the communication sector.
Often, modern marketing excludes this audience segment by unintentionally barring them from effectively interacting, reading, or engaging with content, creating a gap millions of consumers wide. Imagine if your content is unreadable or unreachable to 15% of your target audience. Not only will the user dismiss the content, but it will also immediately influence their experience and opinion of your brand.
The landscape of experiencing disability is multifaceted, with factors like race, gender, and socioeconomic status shaping distinct and unique perspectives for individuals and their needs. This said, the reach of accessible marketing goes beyond those directly affected by disability and extends to their family, friends, network, etc. This audience proves to be an attentive segment that is not to be overlooked.
With this highly variable landscape, it helps to have a working definition of disability. The World Health Organization defines a disability as “a function of the mismatch between a person’s abilities and the demands of the environment”. Disabilities can be temporary, short-term, or life-long, and can impair vision, hearing, mobility and more. It is important to recognize the unique obstacles each of these present and keep this in mind, especially when developing digital content.
Ideally, the best route to accessible marketing is to invite the perspectives of those with disabilities into the developmental phase. While this is not always possible, taking the following into account can have significant impact on accessible design.
Consider the user experience with the following:
- Mobility: What types of movements and interactions are required to interact with my site or content?
- Vision: Are the shapes, colors, fonts, text size, and graphics readable to all consumers?
- Auditory: Does my content contain sound? Can I utilize captioning, transcripts, or subtitles to make my content more accessible?
- Cognitive: Is my content easy to interpret? Are my calls to action easy to follow?
Following are some tangible examples of practicing accessibility:
On the left-hand side, find an email marketing example where the text is overlayed over an image. This can be difficult to read for those with vision impairments. A simple solution is to move much of the text below the image for readability (pictured right).
In this example, find a sign-up or opt-in screen that has text with low contrast. For those with vision impairments, this would not be considered accessible. If you are concerned with contrast sufficiency, try using tools like Contrast (Link Mac OS App), Color Oracle, or WEBAIM Color Contrast Checker.
Lastly, find a display of appropriate Alt Text. Alt Text is a widely used resource to help those navigating a website with visual impairment who utilize an auditory aid. By having succinct, descriptive, and accurate alt text on images, the user can receive the full website experience. Appropriate Alt Text is also known to boost SEO on websites and acts as a key factor for search engine ranking and indexing.
Taking strides toward inclusivity may feel like another task on a “best practice” checklist but it proves to be much more impactful. Evolving mindsets to make space for those with different abilities not only creates a better marketplace for those individuals, but also expands target audiences into fullness. As marketers, we are firstly communicators, and hold the tools and responsibility to begin habitually crafting inclusive content designed with all abilities in mind. When this is done properly, everyone reaps the benefits.
Is accessibility top-of-mind as it pertains to your organization’s marketing efforts? Contact us today to gain the value of an outside perspective.