Diversity Includes Disability: How Your Company Can Craft Accessible Communications
by Ariana Moyer
by Ariana Moyer
Today, diversity, equity, and inclusion are top of mind for marketers and PR pros, but DE&I includes more than what most people might assume. DE&I in communications doesn’t stop at race and gender— it also includes the disabled community. More and more businesses are employing accessible communication tactics to reach this audience, but what does accessible communications really mean? Accessible communication is when companies create content that can be read or listened to by all people, including those who experience disability. People have different communication needs, and it’s important to keep inclusivity as a key priority when creating content
Take a look at Lego, which launched Braille Bricks in 2020 after a successful pilot period. The bricks are “play-based methodology that teaches braille to children who are blind or have a visual impairment.” To launch the product, Lego needed to communicate with parents, kids, and people who are blind or visually impaired. The company launched a website dedicated to Lego Braille Bricks that is fully accessible, includes interactive activities for children who are learning braille or who already know how to read braille, and shares tips for facilitating activities with children who are blind or visually impaired. What’s more, the website’s accessibility page shares an email address users can contact if they’re having issues with the website’s accessible features.
For companies looking to make their communications more inclusive, an easy step to adopt is using person-first language. Person-first language references the person before the disability in writing, i.e. “person who is blind.” This tactic shows that people are not necessarily defined by their disability. But the words we use aren’t enough. It’s so easy for companies to not consider the tools their audiences may need to use to read websites, get their news, or digest information. This is where accessible communications come into play.
A recent study from the National Industries for the Blind (NIB) found that 68% of Americans are more likely to support a company that prioritizes diversity. To truly place diversity at the forefront of your company, especially when reaching key audiences, try making digital content accessible, like Lego. When crafting this content, it’s important to think ahead and provide ways for everyone to access it. Simple ways to do this are:
Xbox is another company that is working towards inclusivity, from the product to the message. Xbox created and launched an adaptive controller that can be used by people with less mobility in their hands. The product was built in partnership with organizations like The AbleGamers Charity and The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, as well as community members. These groups helped Xbox shape everything from the design to functionality and packaging of the controller. But the communications tactics shine on Xbox’s website. The landing page has large photos, a video about the controller, subheaders, minimal amounts of color, and spaced-out paragraphs.
The same goes for NIB’s website—content is readily accessible to all audiences. NIB clearly displays the organization’s career training programs, the products and services NIB employees help perform, and the organization’s mission, which is “to enhance the personal and economic independence of people who are blind, primarily through creating, sustaining, and improving employment.”
Accessible communications tactics are neglected by so many organizations, but they are a skill any PR or marketing pro should add to their toolbox. In 2021, diversity is a consideration for job seekers analyzing a potential employer and consumers determining which brand to support. For a company to be truly diverse, it’s not enough to make a statement. They need to follow through with action, and accessible communications is an easy place to start. As PR professionals, it’s important we are conscious of how content will be consumed by everyone within a specific target audience, including those with disabilities.
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