Making the case for greater accessibility in TV advertising
10 reasons why TV companies need to prioritise accessibility today
It is simply the right thing to do
As a society, we have a responsibility to create a world in which everyone is able to access, and benefit from, the same services and experiences, regardless of their disability status. For too long, people with hearing and vision impairments, physical disabilities, speech and language disorders, or learning and cognitive disabilities have been excluded. Accessibility is about making sure everyone can participate equally, confidently and independently in everyday activities.
TV is a medium for everyone
TV excels as a broad-appeal medium that reaches more people than any other advertising medium. Its broad reach means that TV has the power to both reflect and shape society, bringing people together. With this in mind, accessible advertising is a way to ensure that TV continues to be a medium that is truly for everyone, including all sections of our society.
Accessibility is an opportunity for TV
TV has long been a well-loved and highly-trusted medium with a huge potential as a force for good and positive change. By embracing the challenge of prioritising accessibility, TV has the opportunity to stand out and to lead the way as a truly accessible and inclusive medium.
Greater accessibility means greater reach
The European Blind Union estimates that there are around 30 million blind and partially-sighted people living in geographical Europe, with an average of 1 in 30 Europeans experiencing some form of sight loss. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), almost 200 million people in the European region experience some degree of hearing loss, with just under 50 million adults living with disabling hearing loss. Access services allow TV companies and advertisers to expand their audiences and reach those who have traditionally been excluded.
There is a strong business case for advertising to people with disabilities
Accessibility features allow people with disabilities to enjoy the TV advertising that informs their consumer choices. According to the WHO, people with disabilities make up over 1 billion people globally - this figure set to increase due to ageing populations and other demographic trends. People with disabilities, therefore, represent a sizeable emerging market. One study estimates that the total disability market influences over $13 trillion USD in annual disposable income – a market larger than China.
Accessibility is viewed positively by the general population
Over 3.3 billion people globally have a friend of family member with a disability and almost everyone is likely to experience some form of disability – either temporary or permanent – at some point in life. As disability affects almost all of us in one way or another, greater accessibility is positively viewed by the wider population. In fact, one study found that purpose-driven companies, such as those with commitments to inclusion and accessibility, have a distinct advantage in the marketplace.
Access services are not only enjoyed by disabled people
Ofcom found that 18% of the UK population (7.5 million people) use closed captions while only 1.5 million of those people are deaf or hard of hearing. 80% of those television viewers, therefore, are using closed captions for reasons other than a hearing disability – perhaps they are non-native speakers or are watching in noisy environments. TV content is now available anywhere, anytime and on any device, and so users are increasingly watching TV on the go, on the bus or metro, with subtitles activated. In fact, young people today are almost four times more likely than older viewers to watch TV shows with subtitles, despite having fewer hearing problems.
Major advertisers and industry bodies are committing to accessibility
Global advertisers are making commitments to ensure their campaign messaging across all channels are more accessible, with accessibility increasingly considered within the context of wider diversity and inclusion objectives. P&G, for example, aim to make 100% of their advertising accessible by 2025, an important first move that is being supported by other advertisers such as Unilever, Mastercard, Diageo and others as well as the World Federation of Advertisers and the European Association of Communication Agencies.
Ensuring greater media accessibility may soon be a requirement
While there are virtually no legal obligations for access services on advertising at present, this may change in the near future as European countries implement the transposed the EU’s 2018 Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Directive. Currently, almost all markets have transposed the Directive, which includes aims to ensure wider accessibility on all audio-visual media services, including commercial communications. This may well include video advertising depending on how the Directive is implemented in each European Member State.
Delivering access services for TV advertising is easier than you think
The technical infrastructure required to deliver access services on TV already exists and is already being used for TV programming, where subtitles and audio description is more readily available. For TV sales houses, little is required to enable these access services on commercial breaks. TV companies that are already delivering advertising with access services say that it is, on the whole, relatively easy to achieve and has more to do with willingness and cooperation between the broadcaster and sale houses than any additional financial investment.