New assessment aims at accessibility in marketing

November 10, 2022

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Nashville content marketing firm Crayons & Marketers has launched a diversity and inclusion marketing assessment helping brands target all audiences, including individuals with disabilities.

According to founder and chief marketing strategist Jacqueline Hayes, the study asks a broad range of questions that touch on various types of identity. She said creating the survey was a way to help companies discover barriers that may not be apparent.

“It’s very hard to have a cultural perspective when your team is very monolithic, and so that is one of the [most important) areas that the assessment looks at,” she said. “We look at … talent, marketing, strategy, branding, collateral and supplier diversity.”

In addition, Hayes spoke about the firm’s recent partnership with AccessiBe, a technology company aiming to make the internet more inclusive.

“Sixty-one million Americans live with some form of disability, and more than half feel like marketers ignore them,” she said. “Less than 1 percent of advertising features people with disabilities, and only 3 percent of websites are accessible.

Hayes said one-in-four Americans live with a disability, but 97 percent of websites are not accessible to them.

“Ifound out some time back that one of my clients is colorblind,’ Hayes said. “At that point, our website was not accessible, so that means that anytime he went to our website, he struggled to see it. … We don’t think about that, and that’s a big part of marketing, making sure that not only do they see the messages in our social media posts but when they navigate to your website, they need to be able to have the same experience as an individual who does not live with a disability.”

LeeSherwood, spokesperson for advocacy group Disability Rights Tennessee, told the Post she is supportive of the partnership and wants companies to know that making branding and content accessible is far easier than people and companies realize.

“There are very basic accessibility guidelines that if a company, especially a digital marketing team, has not done any research or received any training on accessibility, it can feel like almost this four-letter word and very difficult concept,’ she said. “Leaving out a portion of the community who may have any sort of disability that prevents them from using their digital resources is a disservice for sure.”

Furthermore, Sherwood said she believes companies need to aim at including everyone in employment, not just marketing. She said there is a misconception that hiring individuals with disabilities can be time-consuming or not beneficial to the company.

“Companies have viewed accessibility and including people with disabilities as this additional cost, this additional labor to make thatinclusion happen, when in reality, it’s just implementing simple solutions intoyour everyday actions and hiring practices,” Sherwood said.