Representation matters when marketing to the 26 percent of people with disabilities. In part four of her series, Rachael Hite looks at ways to make your marketing more meaningful.

In these times, double down — on your skills, on your knowledge, on you. Join us Aug. 8-10 at Inman Connect Las Vegas to lean into the shift and learn from the best. Get your ticket now for the best price.

National disability independence day is celebrated each year on July 26. This date commemorates the signing of the Americans with Disability Act (A.D.A.) in 1990. Kicking off a new series called Service Skills, we will tackle common barriers that disabled individuals face trying to find housing that they can modify or build for their specific needs.

These topics will cover workplace practices, consumer issues, and specific housing challenges that agents need to know about. In part four of the series, today’s video will cover how the disabled are represented (or not represented ) in marketing for major brands, and how smaller brands are missing the mark.

Our experts

In this fantastic interview series, I connected with two amazing women who are making change in our industry in a big way. First and closest to our crew here at Inman, we have the pleasure of working with Dani Vanderboegh, a long-standing senior editor.

In addition to her duties as senior editor, Dani and her team produce niche newsletters for first-year agentsveteran agentsbrokers and teams, and writes Inman’s Real Tea column, where real estate and reality TV intersect.

Since earning her master’s degree in magazine editing from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in December 2014, she has happily been part of the team at Inman, collaborating with industry-leading professionals, working with top real estate journalists, and speaking at industry events nationwide including WomanUp.

Living in a semi-rural suburb of St. Louis with her husband and daughter, she explores her passions for gardening, reading and writing, nerding out over all things pop culture, exploring new gastronomic frontiers, and sharing her life as a wheelchair user in hopes of creating awareness.

Second, we were joined by Alycia Anderson of The Alycia Anderson Company. Anderson is an international speaker and advocate for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training.

A celebrated TEDx speaker and advocate, Anderson is a vibrant and brilliant woman who has created more education around Disabling Ableism. Anderson is a wealth of knowledge and personal experiences to help businesses train better employees and offer more inclusive experiences for consumers.

Anderson also recently launched a new podcast called Pushing Forward with Alycia, where she gives disability a voice, challenges stereotypes, and promotes inclusivity.

Marketing and representation

First off, the discussion really addresses the lack of representation that the disabled community has had in commercial advertising and design in the past, and how in the past few years it has improved with better ads. These ads are not without pushback and controversy.

The first ad that Vanderboegh and Anderson mention is this ad created by Expedia. The ad was simple and showed a normalized experience of someone seeking some sun in the middle of an icy winter.

An inclusive advertising campaign in our discussion is for Skimms, the Kim Kardashian brand that received pushback when it revealed its adaptive wear line of clothing. Check out this great response and explanation from blogger and YouTube expert Jo Beckwith.

Aesthetics for consumers

In an ongoing struggle, folks who are living with disabilities often have to make compromises about their lifestyle, including clothing choices, housing choices, where they work, transportation that is reliable, and even what shopping experiences they can have.  Diversity, equity and inclusion discussions need to be part of marketing, advertising and design. There is a large portion of the consumer market that is not appropriately served or represented in the current standard and there is a long way to go to improve the situation.

The rest of the conversation

Check out the rest of our series, where we talk about housing and ableism. We provide plenty of resources and education to help you position yourself, your team and your brokerage into a more progressive and thoughtful space.

The main goal of this series is to build awareness and to help build content and education to help fill the gaps that many consumers are experiencing. We have to have these conversations; we have to be willing to look ahead since more and more of our society will need accessible spaces as two enormous generations begin to age in place and life expectancies are increasing.

If you don’t think these issues will affect you now, wait. Studies show 70 percent of us will need some type of long-term or assistive care.  Let that sink in. Diversity, equity and inclusion efforts are important for everyone, not just the minority.

Rachael Hite is a former agent, a business development specialist, fair housing advocate, copy editor, and is currently perfecting her long game selling homes in a retirement community in Northern Virginia. You can connect with her about life, marketing, and business on Instagram 

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