What is your brand doing to connect with consumers who have visual or hearing impairments? For many companies, the thought of deaf and blind consumers interacting with their brand simply hasn’t come to mind, and few realise the important opportunity their brand is missing by failing to target a large cross-section of British consumers.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has estimated that more than two million people in the UK—or one in 30—have a visual impairment. Furthermore, statistics provided by the British Deaf Association reveal that more than 11 million people in the UK suffer from some form of hearing loss. Diversity and inclusivity are hot topics for brands striving to be socially conscious in today’s market, so why are brands failing to connect with blind and deaf consumers?
Not only are brands failing to connect; some of them are displaying outright insensitivity. After model Simone Botha Welgemoed was featured in a campaign image for Virgin Active, it was discovered that the company edited her cochlear implant out of the image, even though she was wearing the implant when the image was taken. Although the brand later apologised for altering the image, a message of shame over a hearing aid device was clear.
Fortunately, companies like Procter & Gamble are beginning to tailor their creative to be more accessible to people with hearing or visual impairments. In fact, the company has been working with Sam Latif, special consultant on inclusive design and global leader of P&G’s People with Disabilities affinity group. Latif, who is herself registered blind, understands the opportunity brands have to make people feel valued and a part of the broad base of consumers they’re trying to reach. And this isn’t just about economic growth; it’s about being inclusive and influencing change for the hearing and visually impaired.
Steps that brands can begin to take to connect with blind and deaf consumers include adding audio descriptions in advertisements, as well as subtitles, and using British Sign Language to communicate with the visually impaired.
As we’ve seen, blind and deaf consumers represent a large part of the population of consumers in the UK, and brands today can’t afford to miss out on connecting with these people. Would your company consider implementing new strategies to target this audience? Do you feel that inclusive marketing requires additional investment?