Is Your Marketing Inclusive Enough?
One of the positives of lockdown has been the proof that businesses can function effectively with people working from home. This opens the door to people living with disabilities to enter the workforce in a way that is suitable for them and their condition.Mandatory mask wearing has brought the issue of lip reading for people with hearing impairments to the fore as well. Even if you don't have a hearing impairment, you've probably noticed that it takes longer to understand verbal speech when you can't see the lips forming words and you're not getting the non-verbal facial expressions that accompany the message.
In general, the public have been supportive of taking measures to accommodate those with disabilities, but are marketers doing the same?If you're a hearing person you probably never even think about lip reading or subtitles and signing, and by the same token, if you're a sighted person you probably never think about braille, screen readers and colour choices. There are over 2 million people in the UK living with sight impairment, and 11 million with hearing impairment, which is just over 1/6th of the total population.
That's a lot of people, all of whom want to consume entertainment, enjoy leisure activities, work, and make purchases, yet still some companies’ overlook the issue of accessibility of their digital content.For people living with sight impairment there are screen readers, which narrate the text of a website, advert or email, and while some people have a sight impairment that means they can still see to some extent, screen magnifiers, or the ability to increase the text on a website can be vital. The choice of font and colour (including background colours) can make a huge difference here too.Optimising your website and marketing content for screen readers doesn't mean making changes that would be noticeable by your other users – it's about making the content accessible for all.
It's worth noting that sighted people may also use screen readers, as they're ideal for multi-tasking, for example reading the news websites while you're cooking, or exercising.As people become more used to using voice commands with smart home assistants, we are also becoming more used to receiving information verbally from technology too; so making your website work with screen readers opens up your content to people who are pushed for time. Optimising a website for screen readers involves some coding tweaks, so that the screen reading software can interpret the information and how it is laid out for the best user experience.
Video is becoming a more popular medium for advertising and general content, and while this is great for sight impaired people who can listen along to the video, for people living with hearing impairments videos can be a nightmare. Next time you watch a video online try to consider how much of it you would understand without the sound on. More and more content providers are providing subtitles on their videos and this is the single best thing you can do to make your video content more accessible. For videos with a person talking direct to camera, lip reading may be an option, but if the video then cuts to a picture or info-graphic that is being explained verbally then that oral content is lost, which is why subtitles are best.
As with the use of screen readers by sighted people, it's not just people living with hearing impairments that need subtitles.Many people “double-screen”, meaning they will be browsing the internet while watching TV, so they don't want the sound on a video online to interfere with the programme they are watching. Subtitles allow this to happen, and they are useful for a work environment where video sound would disturb colleagues, or for people with sensory processing impairments that may make taking in verbal information. difficult.
By making your website and digital marketing accessible for all you're demonstrating social awareness and making life easier for all your potential customers into the bargain.
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