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How brands can be more inclusive of deaf people…

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Eleven million people in the UK are deaf*. Yet the majority of brands are still struggling to create inclusive content that can be easily accessed by the deaf community.

Jonny Cotsen, a performance artist and a creative access consultant who is deaf, recently spoke to us about his personal and professional experiences. He shared his recommendations on how brands can consider the deaf community to ensure creative PR, content and social is more inclusive:


tip1 work closely with deaf people to create inclusive content and image of two people working together

1: Work closely with the deaf community

The best way to support the deaf community is to work with them.

Before approaching any new campaign or project, take the time to talk to the deaf community to find out more about their personal experiences and use this to help shape your approach.

Asking about their preferences will no doubt uncover the best insight and advice in terms of what methods of communication work most effectively, or not, for them as deaf or hard of hearing individuals.


tip2 incorporate British Sign Language and caption all content

2: Always find a way to incorporate British Sign Language (BSL)

To serve a deaf audience, you must find a way to include BSL into your work and creative campaigns.

Make your content as readily accessible as possible by using a variety of communication tactics including closed captioning and providing transcriptions for all of your audio or video content.

Also, think about how you can use infographics and design to bring your campaign to life. The use of colour can be incredibly important to the deaf community as it represents a range of tones and emotions – so make good use of it!

Tip 3 - Image of people talking in plain English

3: Use plain English

For many deaf people, English is a second language. There are 151,000 BSL users in the UK and more than 45% of those use BSL as their first or preferred language.

So it’s more important than ever to ensure all of your written content (even transcripts) use plain English. Always aim to write simple sentences, avoid jargon and acronyms, and remember to be clear and concise!

Talking about his personal experiences, Jonny said: “I feel that diversity and inclusion is so important, ensuring that all voices are heard and taken into account.

“If brands are more inclusive, especially toward deaf communities then it means that they are communicating in the best way to each customer, regardless of background.

“Personally, if I see deaf people involved in their campaigns then it is likely that I will take an interest over others without it.”

*For the purpose of this article, the word ‘D/deaf’ is used as a general term to cover all types of deafness and hearing-loss.

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Chris Marshall

Chris Marshall

Hi, I’m Chris, Content Editor at BrandContent. I work on content strategy, planning and creation. I have nearly 15 years’ experience as a journalist and editor. I bring a newsroom mindset – along with a heavy dose of pedantry – honed from writing for the likes of the FT and Sunday Times. Outside of work? Pizza and my two small children are the first two things that come to mind.

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