The Briefing

Brands Prioritising Accessibility and Inclusivity

The latest edition of The Briefing, where we highlight key trends and share more on the ideas and insights that are driving innovation today.

Dalziel & Pow
By Dalziel & Pow
Posted 10. 03. 2023

This Briefing looks at brands that are prioritising accessibility and inclusivity for those with disabilities. We previously identified this matter in our 'Top 5 trends to watch in 2023'. It is not a surprise that in 2023 brands are starting to push inclusivity, as customers favour personalised experiences and the demand for representation continues to grow.

Brands have been responsible for driving diversity and giving a platform to the underrepresented. When brands push representation, it benefits people and the brand as it reflects and demonstrates brand values, creating trust and loyalty. A study from GLAAD LBGTQ found that "82% of people believe marketing efforts to promote LGBTQ+ representation is reflective of brands valuing all forms of diversity and inclusion."

Disabled people have been under-represented through media, design, and the world generally. Disability Horizons found that “less than 2% of characters in the top UK TV shows are disabled” it is estimated that one in six people worldwide has a disability, adding up to around 1.3 billion people whose needs and voices are not being heard.

“57% of consumers surveyed say they are more loyal to brands that demonstrate commitment to addressing social inequities in all their actions” - Deloitte
Abilities Hero

In comparison, the Tech and Gaming industries are pushing boundaries for accessibility and inclusivity for people with disabilities and neurodivergence. Accessibility is no longer an afterthought for designers and software engineers across these industries (for the most part), and instead, accessible features are being built into the software. DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) stated they have seen huge growth within the past three years and said whilst there is still a long way to go, accessibility and inclusivity for people with disabilities are being purposefully designed for and addressed

The advances in accessibility in the digital world have highlighted the lack of inclusivity and representation in the physical world. The recognition and empowerment of disabled people with both physical and mental disabilities are long overdue. The spotlighted brands below are starting to pave the way and set the tone for a more inclusive future.

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Belgian initiative helps retailers welcome disabled and neurodivergent consumers better.

Belgium’s new strategy focuses on accessibility in retail for both physical disabilities and those who are neurodivergent. The initiative ‘The Warmest Entrance’ follows a partnership with Belgian Federation for Commerce and Services Comeos, Inter and Cawab, where inclusive and accessible information is online.

The strategy behind the initiative is to make all people with or without disabilities to feel welcome in retail and have the confidence to attend the space. It challenges an outdated perception of what a disability is and the accessibility needed regarding physical space.

By presenting all the necessary information in one place, retailers such as Zeb have already started implementing changes in their stores to become more inclusive.

George Easy On Adaptive PR

George at ASDA launches an adapted clothing collection

George at ASDA is the first UK supermarket to create an adapted clothing range. The brand has created the new clothing collection ‘Easy On Easy Wear’ to help support independent dressing for children and young people with disabilities.

The collection was designed specifically to make independent dressing easier for people with additional needs and reduced mobility. The brand consulted the help of 14- year-old Ava Joliffe, an award-winning deaf and blind artist who insightfully identified the need to have the adapted collection be a part of the main kidswear range so they can wear the same clothing as their friends.

ASDA, one of ‘the big 4 grocers’, specified the need for clothing to be affordable and accessible. The ‘Easy On Easy Wear’ range demonstrates a deep understanding of an unseen community and ASDA sets the bar for peers to meet inclusivity needs.

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Comic Sans reach out to designers to make their designs more inclusive

Dyslexia Scotland teamed up with Comic Sans in their ‘There’s Nothing Comic About Dyslexia’. The campaign was aimed at designers pushing them to rethink their design decisions and be more inclusive in their typography choices.

A statement from Dyslexia Scotland explained why Comic Sans is such a valuable text for dyslexics stating that ts “the same irregularity which makes it so undesirable to designers is what helps people with dyslexia put into focus texts that otherwise feel overwhelmingly chaotic.”

The campaign is focused on addressing designers with clever puns and comical industry-specific jokes. With the aim to not make all designers use Comic Sans but instead to push for a more inclusive design mindset where more dyslexic fonts are explored.

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Apple celebrates their commitment to supporting people living with disabilities

Apple’s campaign ‘The Greatest’ celebrates artists and athletes with disabilities using their products in a short film. The brand’s inclusive and innovative technology is at the forefront of the campaign, with the advert following different people, with different ability levels, using Apple’s products to assist them,

Apple, a massive tech brand are telling their community that they are committed to accessibility and looking out for its customers. Apple has been known for making powerful ads that bring awareness to important subjects.

Whilst the campaign has been getting criticism and is being called a ‘marketing tool’, many others are saying that Apple has started a conversation about the representation of disabled bodies as a message from and for the disabled community.

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Asda’s new in-store technology helps blind and partially sighted customers navigate stores

Asda once again, as they expand the trail of their inclusive technology, which makes it easier for blind and partially sighted customers to navigate stores creating a more accessible and inclusive retail expiernce. After the previous successes of the trial, ten more pre-existing stores will be compatible with the app.

The initiative app ‘GoodMaps’ helps assist customers with visual problems by pinpointing a user's location, then communicating directions towards the goal product group / area through audio, touch commands and enlarged visuals. The goal is to bring the customer as close to the specific product as possible.

Recently, awareness has been raised for the shopping experience for blind and partially sighted people. Campaigns have been created to highlight the struggles and lack of inclusivity. Asda has taken a step forward for a more inclusive shopping experience and set an example for other supermarkets.

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Google opens UK ‘Accessibility Discovery Centre’ to push inclusive design boundaries

Google has opened its first accessibility research centre in the UK. The ‘Accessibility Discovery Centre’ has been created to create technology to help people with disabilities through research and product development. The space has also been designed to allow for learning and interactive zones for visitors.

Built-in consultation with groups, including the Royal National Institute of Blind People, the Royal National Institute for Deaf People and disability charity Everyone Can, Google look to keep improving accessible technologies. The goal of the new Centre is to undercover the potential of assistive technology to help remove barriers and increase opportunities for disabled people.

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We have identified 4 key insights, why they are important and the possible opportunites

People are looking to brands to set the standard for inclusivity and accessibility

Why: As brands play a more tangible role in our lives and their societal influence grows, people are turning to big brands to act as their voice and set standards. It is not enough for a brand to just say they support something. Brands must be vocal activists for people who do not have a voice.

Your Opportunity: Brands that are putting accessibility and inclusivity on the map by setting a standard for other brands to follow will be favoured and rewarded with not only community loyalty but show their commitment to accessibility before it becomes a trend.

Brands are using their influence to encourage others to be more inclusive

Why: People expect brands to use their platform for good and influence their community and impact other brands and industries to do better.

Your Opportunity: Brands using their voice to influence accessibility outside their community are standing out and becoming case studies for other brands to learn from.

Brands are helping challenge incorrect and outdated perceptions of disabilities

Why: Brands are using their platform to help educate their community and others on outdated and incorrect views on disabilities. This awareness and accurate representation is currently seriously lacking, and people are looking to brands to fill this representation gap.

Your Opportunity: Brands putting disabled people on screens are helping normalise seeing people with disabilities and are helping break down the barriers disabled people face in their daily lives. Those brands improving their diversity on screen and within the workforce are creating a knock-on effect by challenging opinions and creating new opportunities for disabled people.

Inclusive brands are gaining the loyalty of people with disabilities

Why: People with disabilities are one of the most underrepresented groups in mainstream media. When brands provide a minority with a platform and presence, it reinforces a sense of belonging.

Your Opportunity: Brands giving disabled people a platform are more likely to be favoured by people with disabilities and other diverse groups because a brand is not cherry-picking diverse people.

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A summary of what we’ve covered in this edition of the briefing

Trend Recap: Brands are taking diversity seriously as they provide a platform for people with disabilities to express their voices and be seen. Driven by the development in the tech and gaming industries, the lack of disabled people on our screens and the accessibility within the physical world is changing and so is our inaccurate perception of disabilities.

3 Takeaways:

1. Personal Innovation Favorite: Comic Sans and Dyslexia Scotland teamed up to reach out to designers to make their designs more inclusive in ‘There’s Nothing Comic About Dyslexia’ campaign. Aimed at designers educating them on the benefits of Comic Sans but also encouraging them to rethink their design decisions and be more inclusive in their typography choices.

The campaign is focused on addressing designers with clever puns and comical industry-specific jokes. With the aim to not make all designers use Comic Sans but instead to push for a more inclusive design mindset where more dyslexic fonts are explored.

2. Brands are using their influence to encourage others to be more inclusive and challenge perceptions of disabilities.

3. Inclusive brands are gaining the loyalty of people with disabilities by giving them a platform.

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