IPG agency Current Global makes accessibility vow for all comms

Interpublic comms agency Current Global has made a commitment that every piece of communications from the firm and its clients will be inclusive of people of all abilities.

Co-CEOs George Coleman and Virginia Devlin
Co-CEOs George Coleman and Virginia Devlin

The "Accessible by Design" agency commitment and client service offer has been announced today to coincide with International Day of People with Disabilities.

Current Global said all content and campaigns will be designed from concept to delivery to be inclusive of people of all abilities, such as those with sight, hearing, speech and cognitive impairments.

The agency has developed guidelines and an accessibility toolkit, which has been rolled out to its global team and "embedded into best practices, processes and workflows".

Virginia Devlin, co-chief executive of Current Global, said: “We believe we are the first global PR agency to launch such an offer, and it goes to the very core of our proposition and belief that human-centred communication has the power to move all of us. We are proud to take a leadership stance on this important issue, and we hope that we inspire and instigate changes across the industry.”

Fellow co-chief executive George Coleman said: “Over a billion people around the world have some form of disability, which is a significant audience to exclude by default or design. Every day in our industry content is published that’s inaccessible to many, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Not only do we have a moral duty to change this, it makes clear commercial sense for our clients.”

'Comprehensive commitment'

In a blog post to accompany the news, Coleman related his personal experiences to the new agency commitment.

He writes: "My father is deaf. So is his twin brother, my uncle. Communicating with them was always a challenge as I was growing up. But as a family, we always made the effort. That’s what you do.

"Sadly, it’s not always been my experience in professional communications.

"Every day content is published that’s inaccessible to many. Campaigns are launched that aren’t designed to be inclusive of people of all abilities, such as those with sight, hearing, speech and cognitive impairments.

"Over a billion people – one in eight of the world’s population – have some form of disability. With an ageing population, more than two billion will need at least one assistive communication, memory or hearing aid in the next 10 years. That’s a significant audience to exclude by default or by design.

"Not only do we have a moral duty to change this, it makes obvious commercial sense for our clients, too. We’re potentially excluding customers with a collective buying power of $8tn globally.

"The technology is already there to help us, including tools from our client Microsoft. Office has an embedded accessibility checker tool. Teams offers live captioning. Modern browsers all have the functionality to convert web text and images into speech. Every major social network has a range of accessibility tools. And the list goes on.

"Leveraging these tools isn’t hard – but it does require us to embed accessibility standards at the core of our approach to designing campaigns and all forms of content. For the most part, the necessary changes to ways of working are relatively straightforward. The more challenging aspect is ingraining new behaviours so it becomes as natural as, say, hitting 'spell check' when drafting a document. That requires comprehensive commitment."

The agency has produced a video to accompany the announcement:

Current Global Accessible by Design from Current Global on Vimeo.

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