Why are brands failing to market to deaf and blind consumers?

by Digital Europe

Posted on 11-10-2017

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?

Topics: Digital Transformation, accessibility, audio descriptions, British Sign Language, consumers with disabilities, visual impairments, UK, UK Exclusive, Digital EMEA