Andrew Ross is Public Relations & Policy Manager at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and he has responsibility for public relations, public affairs, regulatory issues and policy development within the institute. Membership figures have more than doubled in the last 10 years. Today the CIPR has 10,000 plus members based across the UK, of whom approximately 55% are female, having grown from 20% in 1987.
On 12th February 2015, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) published guidance on delivering inclusive communications, produced in collaboration with the Department of Work & Pensions in support of the ‘Disability Confident’ campaign, which seeks to challenge negative attitudes and improve employment opportunities for disabled people.
Be Disability Confident in your communications
Here are some of the top tips from the guide – the principles of which can be applied to reaching any type of diverse audience.
1. Your audience is bigger and more diverse than you think
Around one in five of the UK population has a disability, that’s around 12 million people. Where possible your communications should be accessible and inclusive to all. Working in this way also gives you greater access to tap in to the ‘purple pound’, the combined spending power of disabled people in the UK, estimated to be £80 billion a year.
2. Know the barriers
Understand that there are often barriers to accessing different forms of communication. Roughly 9 million people in the UK are deaf or have a hearing impairment; barriers to this audience could be speeches, presentations, or videos without captioning. Think about the next time you run that wide-ranging consumer YouTube campaign.
3. Tag it!
With more and more communication designed for the online, on your website, make sure that all your images have alternative text or ‘alt tags’. This means that even if you can’t see the image, through using a screen reader you can still read the text and understand the message that the image is attempting to portray.
4. Don’t be afraid of the everyday
Most disabled people are comfortable with the words used to describe daily living. People who use wheelchairs ‘go for walks’ and people with visual impairments may be very pleased – or not – ‘to see you’. An impairment may just mean that some things are done in a different way. On this subject, check out Scope’s ‘End the Awkward’ campaign.
5. Don’t take their word for it!
You shouldn’t assume that your designers or developers understand what accessibility is, even when they say they do! Make sure you actually have digital communications tested for accessibility and usability by different groups. For a quick test of any website, use the WAVE Web Accessibility tool.
Available to download from the CIPR website, the new guide covers advice on appropriate and inclusive language, producing accessible formats, issues concerning legality, and general tips on delivering inclusive and diverse communications.