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Reach more people through inclusive communications

12 March 2015

I’ve got a problem – I can’t look at any form of marketing communications without thinking about inclusion and accessibility.

We all have busy lives. During a normal day we might be working long hours, looking after our family and even trying to fit hobbies in. But while we’re awake, thousands of messages are being thrown at us to entice us to take actions.

Now, imagine if you have barriers to those messages. You may end up thinking – they’re not considering me, so it’s obviously not for me.

Despite advances in technology, there are still a number of different factors preventing groups of people or individuals from receiving communications. There are approximately 11 million disabled people in the UK: as marketing professionals we are potentially missing out on supporters and donations.

As with any other large group, there can be no one-size fits all approach to how to communicate with disabled people. The way in which some disabled people access communications may be different to non-disabled people. People with different impairments have different needs or experience different barriers to accessing information. Research studies by the national charity I work for, the English Federation of Disability Sports (EFDS), have found a clear need to boost positive representation of disabled people across all channels.

To reach more people and help us prepare better for the messages, design and channels in our planning for resources, campaigns and websites, we need to think about the wider audience’s communication needs a little more. An after-thought in communications can also mean bad PR, more money spent, or loss of custom.

EFDS has produced a guide to inclusive communications, written in partnership with Big Voice Communications, to support providers in reaching a wider audience, including more disabled people.

It addresses the main communication barriers many people experience in sport and physical activity, potentially preventing them from taking part. But the principles of inclusive communications work for everyone, whatever area you work in.

As well as providing essential best practice guidance on planning, terminology and language, the guide explains the purpose of accessible formats and shows how providers can get the best from their communications.

In my professional capacity, I may quietly judge your organisation’s font choice or colour contrast but I’m not alone: there are vast numbers of people you communicate with every day who are judging you too.

Download it here (other formats are available). Please contact Sarah Marl, marketing and communications manager or call 07764 291671 to find out more about EFDS’s work in sport and physical activity.

Sarah Marl

Marketing and communications manager, English Federation of Disability Sport

Sarah has been involved in sport and physical activity for disabled people for over a decade. She now leads the marketing and communications function for the national charity, the English Federation of Disability Sport.

Sarah’s role involves supporting organisations to maximise their own marketing and communication potential, to reach more disabled people. This is backed by a wide understanding of the barriers in disabled people’s lifestyles. With these in mind, she encourages people on a daily basis to think about communications in a more accessible way.