ACCESSIBLE BUSINESS: Stop Confirmation Humiliation

The word Anxiety spelled out

Call to action (CTA) is a marketing term for “any design to prompt an immediate response or encourage an immediate sale.” A CTA most often refers to the use of words or phrases that can compel an audience to act in a specific way. [SOURCE]

I don’t know about you, but I find some online CTA messages overly manipulative and incredibly insulting.

Using these types of over-the-top directives may also cause you to lose business with a particular audience…namely people who suffer from social anxiety who find these types of messages overwhelming.

FACT: Social Anxiety Disorder Affects 15 Million U.S. Adults

The ADA defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH):

“Social anxiety disorder (SAD – also called social phobia) is a mental health condition. It is an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. This fear can affect work, school, and other day-to-day activities. SAD affects 15 million adults, or 6.8% of the U.S. population. SAD is equally common among men and women and typically begins around age 13.”

According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America:

“The defining feature of social anxiety disorder is intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation. People with social anxiety disorder may worry about acting or appearing visibly anxious (e.g., blushing, stumbling over words), or being viewed as stupid, awkward, or boring.”

Ashley Firth, author of Practical Web Inclusion and Accessibility: A Comprehensive Guide to Access Needs lists some of these types of CTA message examples from a website called confirmshaming that seek a website visitor’s confirmation:

1) Choosing not to sign up for a beginner’s guide to gardening

Vegetable Gardening Book Offer

“No thanks, I know everything about gardening.”

2) Choosing not to subscribe to a magazine

Magazine Subscription Confirmation Method

“I’m boring.”

“In both cases,” Firth writes, “you can clearly see how the option that the site doesn’t want to happen is intentionally worded to either shame or scare the user, whether they meant to or not. Here, those who are susceptible to feeling embarrassed, humiliated, or judged negatively have their access needs used against them, simply because they don’t want to sign up to a newsletter or give out their details. Even if they choose not to perform the action, they still had to face the decision.”


Use CTAs that don’t shame or manipulate users.

How about simply using the confirmation options of “Yes” or “No” to be the most inclusive.


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