Knapp: Accessibility Is Fundamental

by Peter Knapp, Group Chairman, Landor & Fitch, with thoughts on Global Accessibility Day, May 19, 2022. He argues that making products and experiences both accessible and inclusive should be the fundamental building block of modern design and brand responsibility.

“The world we live in is actually quite inaccessible to those with disabilities. And this is astonishing when you consider that everything we use and interact with on a daily basis has been carefully designed. Whether a product, object or service – consideration has been put into how it’s developed and manufactured. Historically, style and aesthetics have been the main considerations underpinning design, often at the cost of accessibility. But that’s starting to change.

Making products and experiences both accessible and inclusive should be the fundamental building block of modern design – giving people equal right and equal confidence regardless of any challenges they may face.

Not only will it help make the world a better place, but it also drives brand equity and business value. Doing good, is good for business…and companies can’t afford to be seen falling short, or unintentionally excluding customers.

This is particularly true in today’s digital world. With this new age of information, also comes a new age of responsibility – and brands have no excuse to not translate this knowledge into tangible action, with informed and considered design an effective way to do this. A simple sentence or quick functionality fix can go a long way, while maintaining a distinctiveness of design that is unique to their brand. The financial cost for this is small while the gain for society, consumers, and brand reputation, is big.

But brands also have a big role to play in building knowledge and educating society on the value of accessibility and inclusion. With significant marketing budgets, scale and reach, brands can bring cognizance and awareness to the challenges around accessibility just through the way they design and market.

Technology is a prime example of this, and a real opportunity to put it into practice. The pandemic forced all of us online – to work, to shop, to live and communicate. And this quickly created real questions around the design of many online platforms, and lack of accessibility for many – those with eyesight issues, for example. As new platforms emerge, such as the Metaverse, there’s no reason why inclusivity and accessibility shouldn’t be considered and built in from the ground up.”