My name is Sena Pottackal, and I am passionate about using strategic communications and social entrepreneurship to make the communications industry more disability-inclusive through the work we do; the workforce we employ; and the workplaces we create.
In 2020, I earned my M.S. in Public Relations and Corporate Communications from New York University, where I completed my thesis on disability-inclusive communications. This February, I joined Current Global as a junior associate in client experience, DEI, and corporate communications to support Accessible by Design, its commitment to make every piece of content created, curated, and published on behalf of itself and its clients accessible to audiences of all abilities. This innovative initiative deeply resonated with me because I am a person with a disability.
Specifically, I became legally blind when I was 15-years-old due to a genetic degenerative eye condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa. For the past 17 years, my eyesight has continued to deteriorate every few months. As a result, I can no longer use my residual vision to read text, look at pictures, or watch videos. Instead, I depend on adaptive technology such as a screen reader, alternative text, and audio description to impactfully engage with content.
I am among the over one billion people with a disability, constituting 15 percent of the global population and controlling $8 trillion in buying power. Despite the size and economic power of our market segment, every day content is published and campaigns are launched that are not accessible to those of us with sight, speech, hearing, and cognitive disabilities.
In February 2021, Current Global commissioned a study of over 800 people with disabilities from the United States and United Kingdom to explore the lived experience of accessing media and content. The research revealed that the majority struggle with accessibility, and even those who use assistive technology encounter significant problems. For many, they have normalized their consistently inequitable experiences, leading to negative feelings and low expectations of companies, brands, and the content they produce. But when content and communications are accessible, the response is overwhelmingly positive, leading to a significant rise in brand preference, purchase intent and peer recommendations.
These research results felt astoundingly accurate and effectively articulated my lived experiences as a blind person, who loves consuming content but frequently encounters accessibility issues. Access the full report and join the disability-inclusion revolution. Together, we can bridge this inclusion gap and ensure our communications are accessible for all.
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