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Commercial During the Big Game Highlights the Importance of Digital Accessibility

The biggest football game of the year is over and the Kansas City Chiefs are repeat NFL champions. A year or two from now, most of us will struggle to remember who played in SB LVIII. It's some of the commercials that tend to stick with us.

Every year, there are wacky ads, celebrity cameos, and crazy stunts. But there are always a few commercials during the NFL championship broadcast that manage to pull on our heartstrings, and sometimes they even make important points.

The ad for Google Pixel 8, "Javier in Frame", is one of those memorable commercials. It tells the story of a man with vision impairments, showing key moments of his life through his eyes. Check out the commercial below, and if you haven't seen it yet, you may want to grab a tissue.

Google Pixel commercial focuses on accessibility

What you see in the commercial is how Javier uses accessibility features on his smartphone to help him capture photos and videos of his life - from getting a dog to falling in love to starting a family. By the way, that's also Stevie Wonder doing the voiceover in the ad, which was directed by award-winning filmmaker Adam Morse who is blind.

The commercial shines a spotlight on a feature called Guided Frame, which helps people with vision problems frame things up in their cameras. Many people with disabilities use special technology like this to access things and engage with the world.

For example, people with low vision as well as those with mobility issues often use screen readers to interpret the content of websites and emails. But here's the catch... Those of us who design and develop emails and websites still need to keep that software and the needs of people who use it in mind.

Let's say you place a graphic in an email with a coupon code that customers can use for a big promotion. Screen reading software may be unable to interpret the contents of the graphic. That's one reason why we strongly discourage sending image-only emails.

What screen readers can interpret is the alt text for images in emails, which should be written to accurately describe visuals in a helpful way. But alt text for images is only one way way to optimize digital content for accessibility.

Are you sending accessible emails?

Last year, the Email Markup Consortium (EMC) conducted its second annual study on accessibility in email marketing. To say the results were disappointing would be putting it mildly.

The EMC report found that 99.9% of the 290,000+ emails it evaluated had accessibility issues categorized as "serious" or "critical." The issues included everything from missing attributes that define the correct language to missing image alt text and link text that isn't descriptive.

Some may find the steps required to make an email more accessible tedious, but they are extremely important. Email engagement rates and accessibility go hand-in-hand. When people can't read, understand, or click on your email campaigns, they won't take the actions you expect.

If brands fail to consider digital accessibility, it can also get them into trouble with the law, specifically when they are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A study from UsableNet found a year-over-year increase in accessibility lawsuits in 2023. This study examined more than 4,600 cases, including federal lawsuits as well as state lawsuits in New York and California.

Because email is a key part of the customer experience, you need to be sure you are effectively communicating with all kinds of customers. Important information is delivered to email inboxes every day. Think back to the COVID-19 pandemic. Imagine not being able to access or understand an important email with health and safety information from a company you do business with.

The truth is, making emails more accessible can improve the experience for every contact on your list, not just those with vision impairments or other disabilities. Beyond that, improving digital accessibility is the right thing to do. It shows your brand cares about every customer and subscriber.

Check out our email accessibility resources

We were excited to see digital accessibility get the attention it deserves. Kudos to Google and the people behind the commercial for using the biggest television event of the year to highlight this important issue in a relatable way. As of this writing, the video already had more than 36-million views on YouTube.

If improving digital accessibility is on your brand's to-do list, we have some excellent resources to guide you as you make emails more accessible:

If you're interested in videos on email accessibility, you can check out Megan Boshuyzen's presentation at Unspam. Megan also hosted digital accessibility advocate and fellow email geek Najee Bartley on an episode of Notes from the Dev. In the episode, you'll hear what it sounds like when screen readers encounter email code that is not optimized for accessibility (and it's not pretty).

Evaluate email accessibility before you hit send

At Sinch Email on Acid, we've been big proponents of accessibility for quite some time. We believe it's so important that we built accessibility checks into our email readiness platform.

Use our tool to make automatic improvements to email code, check color contrast, and validate your email against important accessibility guidelines. You can even view your email design through filters that show you how it looks to people with color blindness.

Accessibility tools from Sinch Email on Acid come along with our industry-leading email previews, which show you how everything renders on more than 100 clients and live devices. With unlimited testing on every paid plan, you can keep working until you have total send-button confidence.

Give Campaign Precheck a Try!

While you can use our email readiness platform in a variety of ways, we’ve designed the optimal predeployment checklist with Campaign Precheck. It streamlines and simplifies the entire pre-send process for efficiency and accuracy. Log in now to start using Campaign Precheck. Or, sign up for your free trial today!

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