Most people in education have a strong desire to give everyone the opportunity to learn. Can that be done for those who are deaf? Absolutely!
Think about your last webinar (or virtual lecture or virtual campus tour).
Did you provide captioning?
Did you optimize the captioning for deaf participants?
Did you make it clear to all participants that you were providing this service?
Unless all three answers were yes, you should think about making your marketing more inclusive.
Let me confess up front that I have little experience with the deaf community.
At first, I was a little intimidated by the challenge of including members of the deaf community in our marketing strategies.
How do you even know where to begin if you’ve never lived with such a challenge?
Strategically and morally, it makes sense that marketers should include prospective students and families from different backgrounds as much as possible in their marketing.
My co-host, Troy Singer, and I had a conversation with Courtney on The Higher Ed Marketer podcast, and I want to bring what she shared with us here on the blog.
So here are some of the lessons we can all learn from Courtney to make our marketing more inclusive and more successful.
(Normally, I place the podcast player in the blog for you to listen to. But for this conversation, I encourage you to watch the YouTube video where you can turn on captioning for clarity.)
Provide captioning for your video content.
I first met Courtney when she attended a webinar Troy and I were hosting.
She reached out to us and asked us if we could provide captioning because she is hearing impaired.
That spurred a long conversation about making our content more inclusive.
Troy and I were happy to begin learning how to make our content more accessible to those who do not hear like we do.
The first thing I learned was that you don’t necessarily have to learn sign language to make inclusive content.
By providing more video content (in addition to audio), you can provide captioning.
And you don’t have to type out your transcriptions manually, either!
We discovered a service called Otter that can live caption your webinars, Zoom calls, or other forms of video content.
I’m sure there are other live-captioning services like Otter, but so far, we’ve been very happy at The Higher Ed Marketer podcast with how quickly and accurately it transcribes our conversations.
Another reason to consider moving more towards video content is to enable hearing-impaired audiences to see your lips moving as you talk.
Many in the deaf community are quite good at reading lips, and enabling them to see you will go a long way towards engaging them with your content.
Make it clear that captioning is provided.
At the beginning of our conversation, Courtney pointed out how difficult it was for her to figure out if we had a captioning option or not.
One way you can immediately set yourself apart as an inclusive institution is simply to state that you have accessibility options like caption available in your content.
I think it’s important to include everyone when you try to market something.
[Using my case as an] example, I wanted to learn more about higher education marketing. I saw a webinar last week that I wanted to [attend] and learn more. So, I emailed [you] after I watched your show to ask if there would be captions available. They emailed me back and said they would try.
But [if I had gone] to the registration page to sign up for the webinar [I would have] seen at the very bottom that it will be captioned…
If I had seen that [option] in the first place in the marketing post, flyer, [or any other form of content], then I wouldn’t have had to navigate through all that trouble to try to figure out if it would be accommodating for me.
This, of course, was a big eye-opener for me.
Again, if this hasn’t been your experience, then you might not know that people are struggling to access your content!
Some might say that it isn’t hard to email and ask for captioning.
I like how Courtney anticipates the question. She is right on.
People are people. They don’t have time to try to figure out if [your content] will help or not. So, it’s important to show that you will have a [beneficial] communication.
It’s really on the part of the marketer to show that they are inclusive.
Not only should your content be inclusive, but you should also let your audience know that it was made with them in mind.
To make it even more inclusive, make your inclusivity obvious.
Don’t place it as a postscript or an asterisk.
Show them that you’ve been thinking about their needs.
You’ve already taken care of all the barriers so they can get the most out of your content.
This kind of obvious inclusivity can make hearing-impaired prospective students and families feel welcome and accommodated.
As we bring this post to a close, look at the video below and see what Gallaudet University is doing to be inclusive in their enrollment marketing.
Discover more when you listen to the podcast!
Like all of our blog post reviews of The Higher Ed Marketer podcasts, there’s so much more to learn in the podcasts themselves.
Listen to our interview with Courtney Cannon to get even more insights into:
- How to decrease exclusive friction points (like captioning your webinars)
- The ways Gallaudet serves its diverse student community
- Understanding bilingualism among Deaf students
- The framework for building an inclusive marketing strategy: empathy
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Featured image via gallaudet.edu