Accessibility January 13, 2021
Top 10 Accessible Brands & Brand Campaigns Globally
Mass media has a big role in shaping people’s attitudes and leading brands and brand campaigns have the potential to address deep rooted biases towards disability. Here are Top 10 brands and brand campaigns that put the message across effectively in 2020.
Microsoft/ ‘We All Win’
When Microsoft realised that children with certain physical disabilities found it hard to play video games with traditional controllers, they came up with the Xbox Adaptive Controller alongside charity organisations like the AbleGamers Charity, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, SpecialEffect and Warfighter Engaged.
This product launch culminated in a Super Bowl commercial where Microsoft interviewed the gamers about how the controller helped them. Titled “We All Win,” it shows the extent to which Microsoft will go to help customers with different abilities.
Amid the Covid-19 lockdown, Airbnb launched Online Experiences to show that people could travel virtually and connect with Airbnb hosts anywhere in the world, including people with disabilities. This was followed by many accessible experiences like wheelchair workouts with a pro trainer, a cooking class with a deaf teacher, to name just a few.
Wild Stone, the popular brand for men’s grooming products, launched a unisex perfume called Sense. Sense was created based on feedback from visually impaired persons. Launched on World Sight Day, the perfume has been developed based on feedback from visually impaired people. This is the brand’s first unisex perfume.
Guide Beauty/Accessible Makeup
2020 saw the launch of Guide Beauty, a line of accessible make up products especially for people with shaky hands. The founder is Terri Bryant, a makeup artist who decided to launch the line after she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, a chronic nervous system disorder. This led her to start working on prototypes of makeup tools that would be easier to hold steady. The collection was launched with four products, each of them with a built-in, pop-out Guide ring that steadies the hand and allows for easy grip.
Lego launched new building blocks called Braille Bricks that are fun and playful for children who are blind and visually impaired. The Braille Bricks are designed to help them learn the Braille system of reading and writing, where characters of the alphabet are represented by raised dots. The Braille Bricks were launched in seven countries including the United States, France, Germany, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Norway.
Mattel/American Girl of the Year
American Girl, a subsidiary of Mattel, launched its first doll with hearing loss. Called American Girl of the Year, the doll Joss Kendrick is described as “a fierce athlete born with hearing loss and a passion for surfing and competitive cheer ”. According to Mattel’s press release, Joss joins American Girl’s line-up of characters who impart “meaningful life lessons to help girls learn and grow with confidence”.
Google Maps launched a new feature that helps businesses indicate whether their establishments are accessible to wheelchair users. Google users can set it up through their account so that wheelchair accessible locations come up in search results. This will help users notice immediately if the entrance of the building they want to go to is accessible. They can also check for accessible parking spots and toilets.
Apple/ Apple Care
Apple launched a dedicated Apple Care support team for people with disabilities and re-designed its accessibility site to make users aware of new capabilities. In addition, it also showcased the work of photographer Jordan Nicholson on its Instagram account. Nicholson was born with TAR Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder characterised by the absence of the radius bone in the forearm.
Amazon/Alexa to enable SuperPower Speech
Amazon and speech start-up Voiceitt announced a collaboration to make Alexa more accessible to people with atypical speech. Voiceitt is an app that uses machine-learning and speech recognition technologies to help people with speech impairments communicate and be more easily understood.
Tommy Hilfiger/ Tommy Adaptive
Tommy Hilfiger unveiled their new range Tommy Adaptive in Spring 2020 which included many pieces with modifications like bungee cord closures, magnetic buttons, and one-handed zippers. Hilfiger worked closely with the disabled community to ensure that significant improvements were made on earlier lines. Apart from an empowering campaign, Hilfiger also released a behind the scenes video where director James Rath, who is legally blind.
Let’s hope 2021 sees more brands and brand campaigns that are inclusive!
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