People with disabilities make up more than one-quarter of the US population, yet they are routinely excluded, underrepresented, and stereotypically portrayed by marketers. Despite legal requirements, a large percentage of digital content is still inaccessible to them. But as the pandemic forces more people to work, study, shop, and conduct other business online, brands can use new tech and inclusive design to better connect with this community.
Why should marketers pay attention to consumers with disabilities?
The disability community represents a large and diverse segment of the US population. People with disabilities—together with their relatives, caregivers, friends, and allies—have significant buying power and are loyal to brands that value and include them. They may also be facing higher risks to their safety and wellbeing during the pandemic and need access to information and resources that help them make informed decisions.
Are companies really required to provide accessibility, even for digital content?
Yes, it’s required under the ADA. However, because the law was written before the internet became integral to everyday life, digital requirements are vague, inconsistently enforced, and leave brands open to lawsuits. A recent bipartisan bill proposed in the US House of Representatives, the Online Accessibility Act, would provide more specific guidance to help businesses comply with the ADA.
Can AI help marketers improve their accessibility?
Yes. New technology, including AI, is helping make products and experiences more accessible, though it may also inadvertently cause exclusion and exacerbate inequality and bias.
How can companies better meet accessibility requirements?
After completing an accessibility audit, they can use inclusive design, which considers accessibility and inclusion from the very beginning of a project. This process can help marketers understand diversity and create products, services, and experiences for the widest number of people.
WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report discusses the current state of marketing accessibility and outlines the opportunities and challenges brands face in removing barriers for people with disabilities and broadening their campaign reach to other audiences.
KEY STAT: More than one-quarter of US adults have at least one type of disability, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This makes people with disabilities the largest minority group in the country.
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