In an age of mass media, the personalisation of consumer recommendations has become a necessity. From beacons to data management platforms, marketing companies are eager to make sure that the messages we receive are specifically relevant to consumers.

However, many marketers have been slow to reach out to blind and deaf consumers, and those with hearing or sight loss. With more than two million people in the UK currently suffering from sight loss, and one in six of us (roughly 11 million) with a hearing impairment, brands need to ensure that their campaigns are accessible to all consumers. Thankfully, technology has made huge strides in bridging this divide, especially in relation to the products now on offer to impaired consumers.

For example, scientists have laid out designs for the first Kindle-style tablet that enables deaf readers to feel text and images on-screen using braille. Apple already offers a range of touch screen technology to accommodate readers with visual impairments. They have devised the iBrailler Notes app, for example, that allows users to effectively transform their iPad or iPad mini into a braille keyboard. Even IoT devices now aim to provide assistance to deaf consumers. The Opticon Opn has been branded as the first internet-savvy hearing aid, letting people use their hearing aid to control smart devices at home.

A lot has already been written about how data science can be used to mine data to create detailed, personal profiles on each individual customer. However, there is less of a focus on how the same data can be used to potentially identify customers with hearing or visual impairments and facilitate tailored marketing or product recommendations. After all, not all websites or customer service portals have the option for impaired consumers to declare that they have different needs. Therefore, data needs to be closely analysed to uncover inferred, rather than declared, preferences.

When this customer set has been identified, marketers need to ensure that their campaigns and websites are optimised to best meet everyone’s needs. Helpfully, W3C has also devised a step-by-step guide that marketers can use to make their sites user-friendly for all. It recommends that non-text labels, captions, and video content also be in text, to enable hearing impaired consumers to access audio and visual content by reading text on-screen.

Big prints, flexible font sizes, and enlarged images are also useful visual aids. Headings and labels are also a great way of helping partially sighted consumers navigate campaigns by making it easier to group information systematically. This allows audiences to pick out relevant content from larger chunks of text and focus on the information that is most relevant to them. Magnifying screen content also enables customers to adapt online resources to suit their own particular needs.

Non-informative text should be minimised and, where possible, excluded so as not to distract users. This means that decorative text and images should be removed to avoid on-screen clutter. Narrowing down visual content can increase accessibility by making it easier for partially sighted consumers to isolate important messages.

Ideally, marketers should aim for a low contrast ratio, allowing text and images to be softer on the eye, but using colour is a helpful way to emphasise essential content. Sign-language alternatives can help accommodate BSL users (an audience of 151,000 in the UK) who may not be able to access audio content.

Deaf audiences can also benefit from assistive marketing campaigns. Voicing texts word-by-word, voice recognition, and screen readers allow consumers with hearing impairments to play text through audio. Marketers should be careful to ensure their campaigns work effectively with such technology. Alternatives should be offered to symbols, and unnecessary text links should be removed to help voice recognition software dictate smoothly.

Anticipated to be the “holy braille” of marketing, personalisation of consumer campaigns for customers with audio/visual impairments offers a host of advantages for companies. It ensures all consumers are catered for and empowered, can increase conversions and improve a brand’s reputation.