Your potential audience comprises several diverse groups of people. Regular communication channels that are used to reach out to this audience tend to be, unfortunately, a little ableist in their tone and content. With more than 100 million differently-abled people in the EU alone, it becomes imperative for companies to be more proactive in their inclusivity initiatives, whether the intended audience is your employees, customers, investors, or other stakeholders.
The EU already has several policies in place to ensure that workplaces are more inclusive when it comes to people with impairments. Even so, everyday work life can still be a struggle for many differently-abled people. Sometimes, when organisations set up initiatives to be more inclusive in their communication approaches, they end up becoming a catchphrase, or a vague policy that will be implemented in the future. This is why inclusivity needs to become a part of the organisation’s standards, and it begins with changing the way communication channels work.
Why being inclusive is good for business
According to HR Magazine, there are more than a million differently-abled people in the workplace than there were, even five years ago. This means that leaders and communication teams cannot rely on a one-size-fits-all approach in their communication strategies. Increasingly, people prefer customised communication that is tailored to their specific needs, and applying this can be helpful, especially when reaching out to people with impairments.
Building inclusivity in your communication channels also boosts your brand perception. When your content is accessible by everyone, it makes it easier for more people to experience what your brand is about, so they can understand and appreciate it better. Eventually, they can even become unofficial brand ambassadors. Getting on the inclusivity bandwagon will help you set yourself apart from competitors, but there’s more to it than that. When inclusivity is approached as an implementable policy and when your audience understands that accessibility is an inherent part of your brand, they will know that you’re not doing this just for ‘woke’ points.
How to be more inclusive?
You need to create accessible communication by ensuring that inclusivity is not tacked on separately but becomes a crucial element of your company’s business communication. To begin, you might want to involve differently-abled employees when making communication policies. Feedback and suggestions from those with lived experiences of impairment are invaluable and can go a long way in creating a seamless communication experience for everyone concerned.
Several companies in the EU are already creating inclusive environments and communities which bring differently-abled consumers into the fold. Take the example of cosmetic company Urban Decay which used models like Grace Key who have Down’s Syndrome, showcasing and building awareness around the issue to the mainstream.
Some ways to be more inclusive
- Language is fluid and it keeps evolving, especially when it comes to inclusive content. So it’s important to understand your audience, become aware of your blind spots and make sure that you use approved inclusive language. There are several online tools that can help you in determining how inclusive your language is.
- Web accessibility can be improved for people who use screen readers, by using alt tags for images, closed captions for media, and ARIA tags which supplements HTML.
- Pictures speak more than words and so, it’s important to use images that represent diversity in all kinds of attributes – age, race, gender, disability, body type etc.
- To ensure that your communication reaches out to a wide group of people, including those who are differently-abled, make sure that you have a comprehensive and reliable group of testers who will test your communication and give you relevant feedback. When your content tests positively for readability, accessibility and usability, then it’s ready to go out to a wider audience.
By making your content inclusive, you are bringing everyone into the fold. With repeated and concerted efforts, inclusive communication practices can be normalised within the organisation until it becomes the de facto practice.