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My father is deaf. So is his twin brother, my uncle. Communicating with them was always a challenge as I was growing up. But as a family, we always made the effort. That’s what you do.
Sadly, it’s not always been my experience in professional communications.
Every day content is published that’s inaccessible to many. Campaigns are launched that aren’t designed to be inclusive of people of all abilities, such as those with sight, hearing, speech and cognitive impairments.
Over a billion people – one in eight of the world’s population – have some form of disability. With an ageing population, more than 2 billion will need at least one assistive communication, memory or hearing aid in the next 10 years.
That’s a significant audience to exclude by default or by design.
Not only do we have a moral duty to change this, it makes obvious commercial sense for our clients too. We’re potentially excluding customers with a collective buying power of $8 trillion globally.
The technology is already there to help us, including tools from our client Microsoft. Office has an embedded accessibility checker tool. Teams offers live captioning. Modern browsers all have the functionality to convert web text and images into speech. Every major social network has a range of accessibility tools. And the list goes on.
Leveraging these tools isn’t hard – but it does require us to embed accessibility standards at the core of our approach to designing campaigns and all forms of content. For the most part, the necessary changes to ways of working are relatively straightforward. The more challenging aspect is ingraining new behaviors so it becomes as natural as, say, hitting spell check when drafting a document.
That requires comprehensive commitment.
We’re proud to announce today Current Global’s agency-wide commitment: that every piece of communication we develop, curate and publish on behalf of ourselves and our clients will meet the highest accessibility standards.
When we say we’ll develop campaigns that engage everyone, we mean it.
When we make online content interactive, it won’t just be for some, but for all.
When we build brands, we’ll make sure they can reach every single person.
We’ve spent a good part of this year developing our Accessible by Design guidelines and toolkit, which we’ve rolled out to our global team. We’ve embedded it into every aspect of our work, updating best practices, processes and workflows. We’ve been applying Accessible by Design for several months now, and thought today, 3rd December – International Day of People with Disabilities – a fitting moment to share our commitment publicly.
I feel passionate about leading the way on accessibility in the PR industry. Not only because of my personal lived experience, but also because I’m a communicator. I got into this vocation because I believe communications has the power to move all of us for the better – with the emphasis on all of us.
I feel truly inspired how positively every employee has embraced accessible communications at Current Global. Take a look at this short video. I hope it inspires you too. And check out more on our website to learn about what we’re doing. Together, we can make communications more inclusive.
George Coleman is Joint CEO, Current Global.