So, you want to make marketing more accessible?
As marketers, we want to get our content in front of as many people as possible, but how can we truly do that if we ignore accessibility? Here are some startling stats that all marketers should consider:
- 15% of the world’s population experience some form of disability.
- Most disabilities aren’t immediately visible.
- There’s an 88% chance people won’t tell you if they have a disability.
As a marketer, there are a lot of people that I serve who have a barrier that I can’t see and won’t know about. Knowing this has changed the way I approach every marketing channel and brand element I work with. Here’s another statistic worth considering:
- The Journal of Accessibility Studies found that only 28% of blind users were able to successfully complete an online job application.
That last point really rattled me because I know that challenge probably applies to a wider number of situations (such as applying to university).
Over the past few months, I’ve been on a journey to learn more about how to make marketing more inclusive. There are a lot of stats that have helped shape my views and guide me on what I can do to improve.
What I’ve come to learn is that inclusive marketing means creating something everyone can experience. One of the main marketing benefits of making accessibility part of your overall marketing strategy is that you’ll connect with larger audiences. The conversation is evolving but there are a lot of free tools that can help make it easier. Below are four marketing accessibility tools I use and examples of how you can build them into your processes.
Emojis are fun but a lot of times they don’t make sense if you’re using a screen reader (an app that reads out web content when you can’t see it).
If you’re unsure of the contextual meaning of an emoji you can look it up on emojipedia.org. It will explain to you how a screen reader will present an emoji to someone who can’t necessarily see it.
Colour blindness affects 1 in 12 men. There are a lot of different conditions that can impact someone’s ability to see colour but the most common type is known as ‘red/green colour blindness’. The combination of red and green can represent holidays (such as Christmas) or act as an indicator if something is a success/failure.
Once you understand that not all users will be able to see these indicators or can pick up on the intended cultural meanings, then it becomes clear that colour accessibility should impact your marketing strategy.
To update your marketing processes to prioritize accessibility, you can check that your new landing page or website meets colour accessibility standards by using accessible-colors.com. If anything fails to meet the guidelines then this tool gives you alternatives that help you stay true to the original colour.
3) Youtube captions
Adding video captions helps many users.
Video is becoming a more prominent part of many marketing campaigns across the board and adding captions to those videos will help people who are deaf or hard of hearing. It also helps people who are commuting and don’t want to bother others with noise. Additionally, it helps people who live together in lockdown and don’t want to force their partner to listen to another TikTok video. 🙃
Adding video captions on YouTube
If you host your video content on YouTube there is a free captioning tool that a lot of people are unfamiliar with (mostly because it’s new). This platform uses speech recognition technology to automatically create captions for video content.
Here’s how to set it up:
- Go to your Video Manager by selecting your account.
- Next, go to creator studio -> to video manager -> videos.
- Select the drop-down menu next to the “Edit” button for the video you want to add captions to.
- Choose “Subtitles/CC.”
- Select the “Add New Subtitles or CC” button.
There are lots of tools that will help you add captions to your video files but the advantage of doing this via YouTube is that it’s free and there’s minimal training needed. YouTube makes it really easy to add and edit subtitles to all of the videos on your account.
There’s also added search engine optimization (SEO) benefits because the captions will help search spiders know how to index it. YouTube is owned by Google so this may have a bigger advantage than using a different type of captioning tool.
Clear and concise writing is the best way to ensure that your marketing is as accessible to your audience. Accessible content should always use plain language, and avoid idioms and jargon. If you need to use an acronym, make sure to explain it first.
The Hemingway app is a writing and editing tool that’s designed to help you polish your writing. It helps you edit out complex phrases and identifies common errors that could impact the quality of your writing (eg. writing in past tense).
Any writer can contribute to improving accessibility. In addition to using the Hemingway app, here are some best practices to consider:
- Write in short, clear sentences and paragraphs.
- Use lists when applicable.
- Include headings and subheadings.
- Avoid using complex words and phrases.
- Expand acronyms on first use. For example, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
Marketing tools for accessibility
Whether you’re looking to improve your social media, website, or blog there are a lot of basic best practices you can implement to make your marketing and online presence more accessible to your audience.
When most people think of accessibility features, they think of something like alt-text for vision-impaired users or subtitles for those who are hearing-impaired. But this only scratches the surface. Accessibility includes a wide range of tools, tactics, and strategies that are designed to help all users take full advantage of what’s presented in your marketing material.
We all know that accessibility is important. The problem is, it is not always clear exactly how we can apply this to our marketing campaigns. Instead of writing up guidelines that live largely unnoticed in a drive, think about integrating accessibility practices into your workflow. Make it part of the whole process.