I don’t personally shop by television. I prefer to be a bit more deliberate in my purchasing decisions rather than just impulsively picking up the telephone and calling the indicated telephone number to buy some neat gadget or some CD collection from Time Life. There is apparently enough impulse buying from television advertising to make this a profitable venture for many businesses. Sadly, these companies are probably missing out on a sizeable amount of revenue due to the inaccessible format of some of their commercials.

While watching television, I notice that about half of all television commercials for mail order products provide no verbal information concerning how to place an order. The company’s mailing address, telephone number and web site are shown “on your screen” with none of this information being spoken for nonvisual access. A sighted person who happens to be looking at the screen at the time the commercial is played will be able to read this information, while the blind, those with other print reading disabilities, the illiterate and those who happen not to be in a good position to see the screen will miss out on a potential buying opportunity. Vision loss is a common condition for the aging baby boomer generation, who are in a strong position to purchase these products. When a consumer wants to make a purchase and is denied that opportunity, the seller isn’t doing their job. This results in lost income for the seller.

The solution to inaccessible television advertising is remarkably simple. Verbally provide at least the telephone number and web site address for customers to place an order. Speak the telephone number twice or even three times so that your customers have a chance to memorize it or write it down. Taking these simple steps toward greater accessibility will enable advertisers to gain more blind and sighted customers. What can we do to urge advertisers to provide this basic information verbally? As always, all thoughts are welcome. Please post a comment.