LONDON — Current Global has committed to making all content and campaigns full accessible to people of all abilities, including those with sight, hearing, speech and cognitive impairments.

In what is thought to be the first move of its kind by a PR agency, Current Global has launched – on the International Day of People with Disabilities – its Accessible by Design commitment and client service offer.

The agency’s commitment is that every piece of communication developed or published on behalf of the firm and its clients will meet the highest accessibility standards and will be designed from concept to delivery to be inclusive of people of all abilities, at no extra cost.

Current Global co-CEO George Coleman (pictured) said the initiative was grounded in his personal experience, as his father and uncle, who were identical twins, were profoundly deaf.

Coleman told PRovoke: “As a kid, I grew up in a household where communications was really challenging around basic things and special family moments. That lived experience of understanding just how challenging it is for people with impairments to feel connected and engaged has stayed with me. I’m passionate about comms, but it’s about communicating with everyone, and I’ve always felt that people with impairments have been an underserved audience.”

Coleman said the “epiphany” came earlier this year while working with client Microsoft on a brief around its accessibility tools and technology: “It dawned on the team and I that the technology already exists to make things accessible. Ten years ago it would have meant a load of coding, and been a challenging exercise. Now all Office applications have an accessibility checker – so you should hit that when you hit spellcheck – and browsers can translate writing and images into speech, and alt text captions can describe images.”

The IPG agency has developed a set of guidelines and an accessibility toolkit, which has been rolled out to its global team and embedded into best practices, processes and workflows. Coleman said he was already talking to the PRCA and the PR Council about finding ways to share the agency’s guidelines with the wider industry.

“Over a billion people around the world have some form of disability, which is a significant audience to exclude by default or design,” he said. “There’s nothing holding us back, apart from changing the way we work, and I genuinely hope this inspires change in the industry. Everyone is rightly focused on DE&I and this is one element of inclusion that the comms industry has got the power to change almost overnight.”

Current Global co-CEO Virginia Devlin added: “We believe we are the first global PR agency to launch such an offer, and it goes to the very core of our proposition and belief that human-centered communication has the power to move all of us. We are proud to take a leadership stance on this important issue, and we hope that we inspire and instigate changes across the industry.”