Marketers need to do more to make their work accessible to people with disabilities – a move that could have important ethical and financial benefits alike.

Storm Smith, a producer at BBDO Los Angeles, focused on this topic in a session at the Digital and Social Media Conference held by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).

“Accessibility is a human right,” she asserted. (For more, read WARC's in-depth report: Why advertising needs to step up inclusion of people with disabilities.)

Given this ethical imperative, Smith continued, it is critical for agencies and brands to ensure they are meeting the needs of people with disabilities at the beginning of the process of advertising development.

“Do not sleep on accessibility. Don’t minimise it. Don’t ignore it. Have the work. Don’t say, ‘We have to add it on.’ Say, ‘It is already part of the process,’” she elaborated.

“When you create your brief, produce your content, shoot, edit, do the rest of the work, make sure you check the boxes.”

As a person who is deaf, Smith is more than familiar with the industry’s common failings to take even simple steps to increase accessibility.

“Be proud to commit to implement captions, audio descriptions, and image descriptions for people with disabilities. Make sure they have access to your work,” she said.

The case for inclusivity can be buttressed with a set of financial indicators, as Smith quoted numbers from the US that demonstrate what marketers miss out on when they fail to serve people with disabilities.

The total after-tax disposable income for working-age people with disabilities, for example, is about $490 billion, while discretionary income for working-age people with disabilities is about $21.9 billion.

“I get it,” Smith said. “People are in a hurry to get the work out the door to meet deadlines. But we need to reframe our mindsets to plan better, and to include accessibility as a natural part of the process.”

Sourced from WARC