Deaf BBDO creative: 'Your work may win awards, but is it accessible to everyone?'

People with disabilities make up one-fourth of the global population, and they are being ignored says Storm Smith.

People with disabilities are being ignored, to adland’s detriment, says Storm Smith, art director at BBDO.

As a deaf woman of color, Smith stressed that those with disabilities in the U.S. and around the world have been largely ignored by the industry. 

About 73 percent of people with disabilities will leave a webpage if it is not accessible. When you factor in the more than two billion people with disabilities around the world, that number begins to add up. 

"Your work may very well go on to win awards, and that is great, but is it accessible to everyone?" Smith said. "If it isn’t then that is a missed opportunity to be impactful," she said, speaking at ANA's 2019 Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference in San Diego on Wednesday.

In the U.S., nearly one-eighth of the population has a disability, often one that is not immediately obvious, meaning that they often face invisible discrimination -- and this may lie on top of other prejudices they face as well.

"We are literally the most disadvantaged group in society," she continued. "We have seen progress on diversity in the race and gender spaces, but less for people with disabilities. And the population of people with disabilities have many identities."

That lack of acknowledgment also exists internally in the advertising industry, with few hires of people with disabilities. 

In fact, according to Smith, more than 70 percent of people with disabilities have no job at all. 

"To think that as a deaf woman of color, BBDO was looking for me? Good choice on their part," she said.

She noted that BBDO recruited her for her work, and not as a way to fill a quota. 

Smith argues that much more needs to be done in order to bring people with disabilities into the fold, and create content that is easily accessible to anyone and everyone. 

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