A recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that 1 in every 6 people on the planet has some form of disability. This includes visual impairments, hearing loss, mobility impairment and cognitive disabilities. All these individuals have different needs when navigating websites and digital content. However, too often, their needs aren’t considered during the marketing process.
It’s worth noting that while some of your audience will have accessibility needs, they may not consider themselves differently abled. Audience members in their later years, whose sensory relation to the world has changed, may not think of themselves as needing accessibility. To that end, it’s worth thinking about how much accessibility you can include in your site without the need for any additional user interaction.
An example of an accessible design choice is using high-quality images. Images are important because they tell a story without words, but it’s also important that the images have alt-text. This will ensure that people with visual impairments, either diminished or divergent, can still take in the content from your site.
In general, labelling can help with other components too. Labelling colours supports those with impaired colour vision and can support colour interpretations across multiple cultures.
Alt-text on images also plays an important role in your SEO. It’s another variable that you control that can tell web spiders about your website’s content and who it aims to reach.
Another accessible design choice is using contrasting colours for text and background so that those who have low vision can discern a clear difference. There should be at least a 25% difference between background colours and text colours to ensure text is legible. Pale coloured text over a pale background will start to become illegible, even for those without vision impairment
Likewise, if there are too many colours on the screen, users will have to spend more time looking at what they’re seeing. This distracts them from connecting with what you are trying to communicate to them and will likely impact their recall of your messaging.
Additionally, when it comes to site policies, statements and any other document on your website, find a way to signpost website users to larger font versions or, where appropriate, translated versions.
In accessible email marketing, images are also an important part of the layout. Inaccessible images use a lot more space and can overwhelm users as they have to stop and focus on what is being sent. If you’ve spent significant time growing your email marketing list, you want to avoid making your content inaccessible.
Keep any logos or branding in one corner so that it doesn’t overwhelm your introduction. Likewise smaller, well-placed images throughout your email can complement text and communicate ideas effectively without being domineering.
Social media may be one of your most direct forms of marketing, appearing in front of your audience every day. Thus, accessibility is perhaps at its most important when it forms part of a social media campaign.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all have alt-text options for images you upload, and most social channels are optimal places for the sort of copy that works well for those with linguistic impairments, such as dyslexia, as well as text-to-speech synthesis applications. The British Dyslexia Association has a comprehensive style guide that also offers suggestions on how text is presented as well as written. The guidelines encompass font choice, spacing between letters and words as well as colour choices. For example, using sans serif fonts makes it easier to read online while avoiding italics for text in titles is also advised since they can be misread by assistive technology or people with poor eyesight.
Whether you think of yourself as marketing to people with disabilities or not, the fact is you are. The WHO’s 1-in-6 statistic shows that even minorly successful marketing content is being encountered by someone with accessibility challenges. Can you afford to lose one sixth of the people that see your social post, visit your website, read your newsletter or watch your video because it wasn’t developed with accessibility in mind?
Could you consider that to be wasting one-sixth of your marketing budget?
The design team at Mulberry MC understand the need for accessibility across all forms of content. We can work with you to make sure that when your content and collateral appear in front of your prospects, it will be visible and accessible in all its glory.
If you want to find out how we can support your accessibility efforts across your digital and traditional marketing efforts, contact us today.
Mike McConnell is a Creative Director at Mulberry Marketing Communications. An award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in London, Chicago and Melbourne. He has years of experience creating and editing written work alongside developing ideas for a diverse range of clients across multiple formats. He has impaired vision due to a red-green colour weakness.