Global Accessibility Awareness Day: How businesses can communicate with the disability community as a valued customer group

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Global Accessibility Awareness Day: How businesses can communicate with the disability community as a valued customer group
Developing communications for each of these audiences from scratch can be time consuming and expensive.

Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, which marks a fitting time for businesses to take a look at what they can be doing to help the disability community.

Doing this will not only have a positive impact on society but will enable companies to capture a valuable potential market segment.

About 4.4 million Australians, nearly one in five, currently live with a disability. The figure may surprise some, but it shows how imperative it is for firms not to dismiss people with a disability as a small, peripheral group in their user experience thinking.

Thankfully, the Australian federal government is stepping up to the plate by investing an additional $13.2 billion over the next four years to grow and develop the support of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. An important element of this is technology: for instance, a new Specialist Disability Accommodation platform is due to be upgraded out of legacy technology as part of a multi-year digital transformation effort.

Accessibility isn’t a buzzword, it’s a business opportunity

Just as brands are rightly considering how to adapt their communications offerings to the unique needs of different genders, ages and cultural communities, so too should they consider people living with a disability as a valuable customer segment. More than 90% of people with a disability in Australia have a source of personal income. This means that the disability community should not be discounted by big brands, as they make up a key consumer group with real purchasing power and money to spend.

Customer demand for seamless mobile engagement has been accelerated by the COVID pandemic, creating a sense of urgency for the digitisation and personalisation of customer communications experiences. Brands have resultantly doubled-down on investing in tools such as chat-bots and applications that are generally designed to benefit digitally-savvy customers.

However, these advances do not often consider the needs of Australians living with a disability, or other influential groups such as seniors who find such tools off-putting. Communicating with employees or customers with disabilities such as colour blindness, blindness, hearing difficulties, and motor skill disorders demands a tailored approach, rather than one-size fits all. As these customer groups are sometimes considered peripheral, their needs are often not prioritised in communications.

Finding a format that works

For all the advances in modern messaging, the most accessible solution has been around for roughly two decades. By delivering customer communications through the ubiquitous SMS messaging, brands can easily reach many people with disabilities in a format that they can engage with. Indeed, text messages are found to have higher engagement rates than other forms of communications for most customer groups, with an open rate within the first three minutes of receiving it.

For older customers or those who are blind and may have trouble interacting with a text-based two-factor authentication service on a hand-held mobile device, organisations can also turn to newer voice communications technologies to accommodate such disabilities. Organisations can also augment their chatbot customer journeys by considering advancements in speech, video capture and video caption technologies.

Developing communications for each of these audiences from scratch can be time consuming and expensive. However, through platform technologies such as CPaaS, organisations can centralise the communication to large and varied customer groups in an efficient manner. These platforms also enable companies to create tailored communications approaches without fragmenting their digital transformation strategy.

In 2021, businesses who fail to adopt new technologies to communicate with their valued customer base will lose market share to savvier competitors and even risk long term brand damage. After all, servicing the disability community isn’t charity - it makes business sense.

Find out more about Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

Matt Thompson is VP Global Marketing at Soprano Design.

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