"As communicators," Current Global CEO Virgina Devlin tells Doug Simon, "I think we have a huge opportunity to do better to create accessible communications that connect with audiences of all abilities."

Devlin says that many companies are missing the boat when it comes to the goal of making their communications accessible to all members of their target audiences. "The World Economic Forum had this stat that kind of stopped me in my tracks," she says. "And it's that 90 percent of companies claim that they are prioritizing diversity in the workplace, but only four percent of businesses are focused on making their offerings inclusive of people with disabilities."

Part of Current Global's effort to close that "inclusion gap" is its Accessible by Design initiative, which aims to ensure that every piece of communication the agency develops, curates and publishes meets "the highest accessibility standards."

Devlin says that tech-based tools can help communicators in these efforts. Microsoft (a Current Global client) "has a lot of great technology functions that allow you to check the accessibility of documents you're creating."

Working with Microsoft on highlighting those features, brought home to home to Devlin how important accessibility is—as well as what a great opportunity it represents for communicators and clients. "Closing this disability and inclusion gap is not just the right thing to do, it also makes business sense."

Current Global did a survey aimed at understanding the lived experiences of people with differing abilities and found that social media was a major hurdle for many of them. "They find it very difficult to navigate and consume content on." She also says that many assistive tools don't help that much. "Really, the problem is the content itself."

One way Devlin's agency is helping foster the development of content that is accessible from the ground up is through "a very comprehensive set of free guidelines so anyone can download them and use them in partnership with the PRCA and the PR Council."

And she says that as much as artificial intelligence can help, making content accessible really requires the human touch. For example, when trying to take the information from a graphic and turn in into text, "it's important that you go in and read it yourself. Pay attention to exactly what's happening in the image and describe it for users."

She also cautions against getting overwhelmed by the work involved in making your messaging more accessible. "Just start taking the baby steps and those guidelines I mentioned will help you do that. If you just start putting it into practice on a daily basis, and it'll just snowball from there."

To find out more about Accessible Communications, Current Global has collected such information as articles, and webinars, and podcasts on its website, https://accessible-communications.com.

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Interested in taking part? Contact Doug Simon at [email protected]

D S Simon Media helps clients get their stories on television through satellite media tours and by producing and distributing content to the media. The company also produces live social media events.