This year marked the 30th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, a basic law on the civil rights of people with disabilities. It was also the 75th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, a key way for employers to understand the importance of creating inclusive hiring practices.
In marketing, brands have continued to make progress, both internally in how they approach talent and externally in how they present themselves to the world. While there is progress in both areas, there is still a long way to go and an opportunity to create real depth of representation and understanding.
“We can’t just look at disability from an accessibility perspective or show talent in an advertisement,” said Josh Loebner, director of strategy, diversity, equity and inclusion at Designsensory and member of Adweek DCI Council. “It’s not about ticking a box, it’s about going up to the talent pool and recruiting more people with disabilities in advertising.”
In Loebner’s view, while DCI is critically important, he believes that reframing the marketing language not only solves the problems, but creates an even greater opportunity for marketers and advertising professionals. to understand how to approach the practice.
“It’s really about the creative brief and how this initial creative step in the development process [work] where diversity, equity and inclusion – and disability – can be introduced early, ”he said, noting that his preferred acronym is IDEAS.
“It stands for ‘inclusive, diverse, equitable and accessible successes,” said Loebner. “What’s important are ‘successes’ because too often brand advertisers view disability, and sometimes diversity, as more corporate citizenship, as opposed to the business case for diversity and disability inclusion. ”
Loebner admits that brands, even those that are progressing, can make mistakes, but that “we have to move forward to accommodate disability”.
“There is a phrase in the disability community: ‘nothing about us without us’,” said Loebner. “And that can apply to any minority group. In the creative process, if you don’t want to make a mistake, invite a person with a disability to consult and let them be a part of it. “
Even without the Paralympics this year due to the pandemic, Loebner said the brands have created solid work throughout the year. Here are 10 strengths he shared.
Microsoft: surface advertising
The latest Microsoft Surface ad features a family using American Sign Language, seamlessly incorporating their joy of using the device alongside clips from other families. This is the latest in a series of disability inclusion initiatives by the software giant. Although few companies disclose the number of employees with disabilities, Microsoft is one of the first large companies to share this 6.1% of its employees identify as disabled.
“What’s great is that people who used ASL weren’t segmented and siled to say this device is dedicated to people with disabilities. On the contrary, the people with disabilities who were in the advertisement liked the product like everyone else. And that’s really what helps advertising show that people with disabilities genuinely use products like anyone else, and it gives them a sort of tone of truth and speed, ”said Loebner, who points to the brand as one of the most committed to accessibility and disability.
Loebner also said Microsoft works to ensure accessibility and disability inclusion are deeply embedded in its software products. Microsoft has innovated with its Xbox Adaptive Campaign.
Comcast / NBCU: Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade
Macy’s 2020 Thanksgiving Day Parade had to be redesigned due to the pandemic, which gave organizers and broadcasters a chance to incorporate new techniques. For the first time in the history of the parade broadcast, NBCUniversal provided live audio descriptions on the secondary audio program channel. This audio allows people who are blind or visually impaired to hear additional descriptions of events taking place on screen outside of the hosts or stars.