You may be thinking: “Well… not many of my clients have some kind of disability. Do I really need to have an accessible brand?”
Let’s start with a few facts. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank, more than 2 billion persons in the world have some form of disability. That is 37.5% of all humans living on earth. From those, 1.3 billion people are affected by some form of blindness and visual impairment. In Canada, we are talking about 6.2 million people. (22% of Canadians)
What does accessible mean?
In this day and age, when people are talking more and more about WCAG 2.01 and AODA2 (if you live in Ontario), it is really important to know what accessibility is and to evaluate how accessible your brand is.
If you google “what is accessibility” you will find the following: “Accessibility is the degree to which a product, device, service or environment is available to as many people as possible.”
That is an interesting definition: Accessibility is usually associated with people with some kind of disability. But now, we are talking about allowing as many people as possible to access your information.
Have you ever thought that there are different levels of disability? Yes, there are permanent disabilities like blindness, but there are temporary (i.e. cataracts) and situational (a space that is too bright) disabilities as well. And, many people will have some type of disability as we age.3
So, if your brand is indeed accessible, you are automatically improving your brand awareness.
How your brand can be accessible.
Accessible design is good design. Period. Your customers deserve a brand that is as inclusive, legible and readable as possible—an accessible brand.
In order to achieve this, you need to keep in mind certain considerations4:
- Understand the most common disabilities, constraints and limitations so you can develop a brand that is inclusive.
- Consider people with conditions that affect their ability to process or interpret information. Keep in mind that this has nothing to do with intelligence but rather challenges some individuals face when consuming information. A good brand is great at communicating clearly and simply. This can also help customers who may not speak English proficiently.
- Hierarchy in communication is critical for easy reading. Make your messages short and scannable, as literal as possible and avoid relying on words or phrases that could be difficult to understand for your audience. Keep in mind that communication is different than brand personality or voice.
- Choose the right colours by always considering recommended contrast ratios, and focus on legibility if you are going to have words on top of coloured backgrounds or images.
- Good typography is accessible typography: Arial, Calibri, Helvetica, Times New Roman and Verdana are commonly rated as the most readable, and most preferred by people with vision or reading difficulties.
It’s all a matter of mindset.
Creating or refreshing a brand to achieve accessibility is a matter of mindset. You need to make sure no one is excluded: From its conception, its intent, the experience you want to provide to your customers, to the execution. And keep in mind, that “seeing disability differently and understanding exclusion helps us extend a solution for one person into a solution for millions of people.”5
In other words, you have the responsibility to make your brand as accessible as possible. Brands that don’t transform, that don’t adapt to their environments are doomed to fail. The good news is that achieving accessibility does not have to be a painful experience. If you have any questions about this topic, or would like to discuss further, feel free to give us a call at 416-322-2865.
1. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines: https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/
2. Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act: https://www.aoda.ca/the-act/
3. Gregg Vanderheiden
4. Access Ability – A Practical Handbook on Accessible Graphic Design, RGD
5. Inclusive Microsoft Design – Inclusive toolkit manual