As Australia continues to grow and the population becomes more ethnically diverse, it is important that marketers ensure digital environments are more inclusive, especially for those who don’t speak English as a first language, writes Siteimprove’s Haley Doel (pictured below).
Having a readable and accessible website is no longer just a high priority for large global brands. Government organisations and educational institutions are now more aware of a need for inclusion, and as Australia’s diversity increases, this need is expanding to all businesses.
The 2017 National Census shows that Australia has a higher proportion of people born overseas – 26 per cent of the total 24.4 million population. That’s more than the US (14 per cent), Canada (22 per cent), and New Zealand (23 per cent). What about the UK, you say? Not even close at 13 per cent. With more than 300 languages spoken in our homes (including Auslan – Australian Sign Language), we are a hugely diverse nation.
When we delve even deeper, we find that almost half (49 per cent) of our entire population in 2016 was born overseas, or had at least one parent born overseas.
Is your website accessible for the 26 per cent of Australians for whom English is not their first language?
As Australia continues to grow and the population becomes more ethnically diverse, it is important that marketers ensure digital environments are more inclusive, especially for those who don’t speak English as a first language.
If your website does not meet readability best practices, is difficult to understand or access, or provides a poor user experience, you could be missing out on valuable opportunities to effectively speak to your audience.
All industries are affected by this change in demographic, but if we look at the education sector, we can see some of the biggest changes developing. The Federal Education Department shows a 10 per cent increase in the number of international students in 2016 – that’s more than 550,000. The higher education sector saw the largest share with 43 per cent. Of those numbers, the majority came from China and India, where English is not the primary language.
With foreign student intake projected to hit one million per year, how can we afford not to work toward digital inclusion? The interaction and buying potential of those students doesn’t stop with the educational industries – those students will be shopping, eating, travelling, working, and just buying in general! There’s not a marketer out there that shouldn’t be thinking about website accessibility for this growing audience.