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PRCA publishes new accessible communications guidelines

One in eight people globally have some form of disability and struggle daily to access content and communications from brands and organisations of all kinds.

Today the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) has published new guidance – in partnership with Current Global – to help PR and Communications professionals deliver accessible content.

This is a topic close to my heart, particularly as someone with hearing loss. I blogged in June about my experience of receiving my first hearing aid after a lifetime of struggling to hear.

Only last week I joined an online conference which had poor audio and no captions. I had to log out and leave the conference as the audio caused my ears to ring.

Tweet depicting Rachel Miller on screen. Wording states: Batching up 12 new videos tonight to send @rev for captions. A plea as someone with hearing loss - please caption your videos, so we can communicate. If you’re organising a conference, please consider people with hearing issues. Poor audio + no captions = no communication. Ear with hearing aid.

I’ve also tried Clubhouse and participated in a number of chats, but it’s not the platform for me. I love audio content – listeners of my Candid Comms podcast will attest to that! But Clubhouse’s inability to pause, rewind, lipread (you can’t see the speakers) or read transcriptions means it’s not a platform I can easily access.

Finally, there’s help at hand to learn about accessible communications. This is a practical guide packed with tools, advice and case studies designed to help PR professionals ensure their content is available and accessible to people of all abilities. The resources sections are particularly useful to work your way through.

Download the guidelines: PDF version or Word version.

Illustration stating accessibly communications guidelines and PRCA logo

Illustration detailing disability figures around the world as a circular diagram.

There are different forms of disabilities, but those most directly connected to and impacted by the accessibility of communications content and campaigns are: Visual, Hearing, Cognitive and Speech.

These guidelines break down the different kinds of content and work typically produced by the communications industry, and the key considerations for making them accessible for people with disabilities in these four categories.

PRCA state: “By ensuring that everything developed, curated or published within the remit of a communications campaign is made more accessible to people with visual, hearing, cognitive and speech disabilities, we will create more inclusive work that engages widest possible audiences.”

Illustration outlining types or permanent disabilities and how they are most often manifested. L-R: visual, hearing, mobility, cognitive, speech and neural.

What does the data say?
The new guide follows research by Current Global, MAGNA and IPG Media Lab revealing 15% of the global population live with a disability. Crucially, the study reported 64% of those who use an assistive tool said they experienced issues accessing content.

PRCA Director General and Chief Executive of ICCO, Francis Ingham MPRCA says: “As professional communicators, it is incumbent on us to make communications inclusive for people of all abilities so we can reach every member of society.

“The technology and tools to help us do this are readily available, so the key priority is to update the way we work to adhere to best practices laid out in the guidelines.”

Current Global, Co-Founder and CEO, George Coleman commented: “Every day content is published that isn’t accessible to all. It doesn’t have to be this way. Over a billion people worldwide have some form of disability, a significant audience many are excluding. We have a moral duty to address this – and we hope the guidelines provide a practical starting point to instigate change to the way the industry works.”

Illustration stating 20% of interviewees find that social media platforms are very difficult to access making it the most problematic media channel.

Illustration stating accessible communications guidelines statistics

 

Download the guidelines:

– PDF version
– Word version

I found the guide helpful and I’m trying to make edits to my content e.g. using ALT text more and writing descriptions. Congratulations PRCA and thank you for publishing these guidelines.

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Post author: Rachel Miller.

First published on the All Things IC blog 21 April 2021.

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