DEI consultant Meryl Evans smiling in image for interview on inclusive marketing campaigns

Accessibility Consultant Meryl Evans, on How to Create More Inclusive Marketing Campaigns

Planning to make your marketing campaigns more inclusive? Accessibility and disability inclusion consultant and trainer Meryl Evans shares how to avoid common mistakes – and make inclusivity a part of your brand DNA.

An interview by copywriter and content strategist Kristin Lesko.

One in 6 people in the world experience a significant disability, according to the World Health Organization. This underscores the importance of inclusive marketing, which considers the diverse needs of individuals who may need accommodations to access content. 

For instance, someone with a hearing impairment could use closed captions to consume a promotional video. Or someone who is blind could have an image’s alt text read to them using a screen reader to understand its contents.

But all of that is only possible if creators include those elements.

That’s where accessibility speaker, trainer, and consultant Meryl Evans comes in.

Expert guidance for inclusive marketing  

Meryl advises companies on how to be more inclusive of everyone, especially people with disabilities. As a person who is deaf, Meryl draws from her lived experiences, the shared experiences of others with disabilities, accessibility guidelines and best practices, and research to make her recommendations.    

In this interview, Meryl discusses:

  • Why marketers should prioritize inclusivity 
  • How to avoid common mistakes 
  • Checks and balances to ensure inclusivity is part of your brand DNA 

Your marketing content can’t be relatable if it isn’t accessible. 

Read on to ensure it’s both. 

How would you define “inclusive marketing” for our readers?

Inclusive marketing means creating accessible content that represents a diversity of people.

Why do you think marketers should prioritize inclusivity in their campaigns? 

The no. 1 reason is to expand their reach.

Marketing works hard to create a video that represents their brand and messaging. They work hard to get viewers to catch the video. Multiple statistics have shown many people browse social media videos with the sound off. No one is going to get the brand’s message if it doesn’t have captions.

That’s why accessibility is essential to inclusive marketing. It gives people choices in how they interact with the brand.

How can marketers ensure they’re including people from different identity groups with diverse lived experiences? 

Skip the stock photos because they’re not genuine.

For example, there are a handful of stock photos that represent a person signing. These signs are fake or often represent someone signing “help.” This communicates the message that deaf people who sign need help.

When you make your content accessible, you’ll win fans and customers in the disability community. Involve them in your marketing efforts.

There should be people in the company who represent these groups. If there aren’t, then the company has bigger things to worry about than inclusive marketing. 

DEI trainer Meryl Evans wearing red dress while speaking at live event
Meryl Evans highlights the benefits of inclusive marketing: “When you make your content accessible, you’ll win fans and customers in the disability community.”

What checks and balances or systems should be in place to ensure inclusivity is part of a brand’s DNA vs. an afterthought?

Create and evolve checklists. Now, checklists are not the end all, be all. They’re a good starting point to ensure you don’t forget image descriptions, captions, audio descriptions, and accessible color choices.

Marketing needs to get constant feedback from people with disabilities. Better yet, have people with disabilities on the team or at least in the company.

When it comes to feedback on accessibility, it must always come from disabled people. While everyone uses accessibility, disabled folks depend on it and need to have a say.

People who depend on captions know the little things make a huge difference in captions. People who like captions won’t notice these things. 

Create a comprehensive accessibility checklist for your marketing materials, including items such as:

  • Image descriptions
  • Captions
  • Audio descriptions
  • Accessible color choices

Too often, we rely on people from diverse groups to be the ones to point out inclusivity issues in marketing campaign drafts so we can fix them. How can marketers take a more proactive approach?

Be intentional with every campaign. It takes time and practice. That’s why I encourage progress over perfection. Maybe you start with making sure your blog posts are accessible using a checklist. Then, once you master that, work on making your social posts accessible.

Through it all, involve folks with disabilities and other underrepresented groups. They can ensure the brand does it right. 

How can each individual take greater accountability so the burden doesn’t solely rest on the person’s shoulders who belongs to the underrepresented identity group? 

This is why enterprise-wide training is important and a must-do. It takes multiple training sessions and even role-specific training to learn how to be more inclusive. They can establish a committee of people from different groups and disability categories and pay them for their time. They’d go to this committee whenever they need input during the idea stage, the creation stage and final product stage. 

What are some of the other common mistakes marketers make when it comes to inclusivity in their marketing campaigns? 

They make a lot of assumptions that tend to be incorrect and they don’t make their campaigns accessible. The biggest one is companies assume they don’t have customers, prospects or employees with disabilities. Therefore, they think they don’t need to make their campaigns accessible.

DEI consultant and traier Meryl Evans smiling talking to ZeroBounce about creating inclusive marketing campaigns through more accesibility

ZeroBounce has an email verification platform that allows people to check their email list to ensure every contact is valid and working before sending an email. Do you have any advice for our audience about how to make their email marketing campaigns more inclusive?

Two common problems I see in email marketing:

1. Putting all of the text in an image. It’s not just locking out those who are blind or have low vision. People may not be able to read the image for a variety of reasons. 
2. Poor color contrast choices. I can’t tell you how many email campaigns had text that was like reading in a fog. 

Is there anything else we haven’t asked that you’d like to share?

A good starting point for people could be this content accessibility page I created or reaching out to me directly.

Connect with Meryl on LinkedIn.
Photos: courtesy of
Meryl Evans.

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