British Airways traces its origins back to the birth of civil aviation including the world’s first scheduled air service on 25 August 1919, by Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited (AT&T), a former company of today’s British Airways.
To celebrate this centenary, British Airways is celebrating the best of Britain. One of the ways they’ve done this is to make an advert that showcases the “brilliant people of Britain who make us who we are”.
In the 90 second version, we see 12-year old profoundly deaf nonidentical twins, Natasha and Rhianna Cullen featured signing the word “trouble”.
It was fantastic to see deaf sign language users included in such a historic film, despite being a very short snippet.
The visibility of deaf and disabled people in the media can subtly educate viewers and these messages are given much further reach than they ever have before.
Customers need to relate to the businesses they deal with and see that they are represented in the services being provided; including their marketing and their workforce. This offers allegiance of the feeling of belonging.
Deaf people have long felt like a marginalised group and the opportunity of coming into the spotlight more brings not only more awareness but also offers more opportunities to engage with brands.
I recently attended the Business Disability Forum Annual Conference where there was a panel of next-generation change makers and innovators. It was both interesting and exciting to listen to their opinions on the impact social media has made on disabled people’s lives. Whether that’s being inspired by other disabled people; or sharing experiences on channels such as YouTube; they offer a way to speak your truth and share your thoughts. Once again it demonstrates the power that video media has in today’s society, and how we can share our message to millions of people with a click of a button.
We can also see from British Airways’ example (and many more) how businesses are now taking the lead and putting disability at the forefront of their message and therefore our minds. And by doing so are opening up their products and services to a broader global market worth $8 trillion.
And it’s when businesses start to recognise the financial incentives and are not doing this only from a corporate social responsibility standpoint, that we will begin to see real change happen.