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Debra Ruh

Employability & Technology

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Promoting Your Disability Employment Milestones

Targeting customers and employees with disabilities impacts industry and government agencies.  Your efforts to improve disability employment and accessibility initiatives are the fastest ways to reach and better serve this growing population.  Steps to improve disability strategies will allow your organization to:

  • Maximize ROI
  • Increase Fiscal Efficiency
  • Expand Market Share
  • Avoid Litigation
  • Tap into New Markets
  • Reach a Larger Audience

If organizations invest in the right resources and accommodations, they will become an "employer of choice" which will attract and retain the skilled workers they will need in the years to come.  As an added value, studies have proven that the hiring of people with disabilities will increase positive public image and brand loyalty.  In carrying forward this message; let´s examine some key factors in developing a successful plan to promote your dedicated efforts and leveraging your disability initiatives. 

  • Disability employment and accessibility are actually quite simple – products and services are accessible if they can be used just as effectively by people with disabilities as they can by those without.
  • To begin, you must promote your accessibility solution up front.  Use it to set your organization apart, leverage the steps that you´ve taken, be proud of them, and make sure others are aware of your efforts.
  • In the ever changing landscape of today´s technology--we all must find ways to make technology accessible to employees with disabilities and the growing population of citizens with disabilities and age-related limitations. Make sure your efforts are known!  An accessible and universal design approach can capture valuable market share, generate a positive buzz, increase sales, and ensure return on investment when reaching this growing population.
  • Forrester Research indicates that in the US alone 101.4 million working-age adults ranging from 18 - 64 years are very likely to benefit from using accessible technology due to difficulties and impairments that may impact computer use. We Magazine, a lifestyle publication for people with disabilities, says people with disabilities spend $700 billion per year on technology.
  • To reach this population your organization must make sure to get the "right" people involved.  Create an accessibility team, or host of experts on the topic.  Partner with experts in the field, and whenever possible, ask a person with a disability how you´re doing – using a person with a disability to test the accessibility and usability of your product will allow for him or her to use a firsthand perspective as to what does and does not work. 
  • Become a trusted advisor, set yourself apart as experts on this topic, and leverage this knowledge to attract new customers, new employees, and new partners. 
  • Understand the buyer motivation and requirements. Understand that this market is no different from the rest of us – we all know someone with a disability and I´m sure we can all agree that his or her life is improved when given the opportunity to access the same technology that we do.

Becoming a Trusted Advisor:

  • Provide a means to evaluate your product.
  • Raise the bar, by highlighting key differences from competitors.

Unique Selling Proposition:

  • Promote your "accessibility story" and "disability employment story" based on history and commitment.
  • Promote your knowledge regarding disability employment and accessibility in general, as well as your Section 508 and accessible product knowledge.
  • Create an "Accessibility Statement" on your website, and place it front and center.  Promote your dedication to accessibility on all corporate collateral. 
  • Craft and distribute press releases on an ongoing basis that highlight your accessibility and disability employment milestones.  Turn what was once a potential liability into a marketplace advantage. 
  • Create a helpline, or simply a resource page on your website, with helpful contact information, resources, and accessibility tips for accessing your products and services.
  • Join disability support groups, forums, national organizations, and e-discussion groups.
  • Encourage people with disabilities to use and provide feedback of your products and services.  Listen to this feedback.


Explore the media vehicles that are currently speaking to the population that you are striving to reach. For example:

  • Accessibility Magazine
  • Disability News & Views Radio
  • Diversity Inc Magazine
  • Disability Matters Radio Show with Joyce Bender
  • Mainstream Magazine
  • Audacity Magazine
  • www.AT508.com

Create Targeted Marketing Campaigns:

  • Historically, there has been a major marketing disconnect between private industry and customers with disabilities. Though a booming demographic, with dollars spend, people with disabilities have been off the radar as far as advertising agencies are concerned. Organizations should take advantage of this opportunity.
  • Your organization should ensure that marketing efforts are reaching the disabled audience.  There is a current misconception by many companies that the on-line market is strictly for those under 30, and for those without disabilities.   Organizations should make certain that they appropriately target computer users with disabilities, or they will limit their opportunities posed by the older generations and the growing number of people with disabilities.
  • All organizations should focus their products and services on growing this consumer base -- comprised of "Baby Boomers," senior citizens, and persons with disabilities – in order to develop greater market share by considering accessibility in all stages of product development and marketing.
  • Around the world, people with disabilities are gaining recognition as a significant and growing market for products and services, and they are making their needs and expectations known.  Organizations should address the needs of this diverse customer population, and publicize their milestones. 
  • Organizations should always use marketing materials that challenge and overcome stereotypical, patronizing, and sentimental attitudes about disability.

Disability Employment:

  • As the pool of knowledge workers continues to shrink with our aging population, organizations will need to develop and put into place programs to keep older workers and attract people with disabilities by investing in accessible training programs and flexible work schedules, and offering to hire retiring employees on a consultant basis. 
  • If organizations invest in the right resources and accommodations, they will become an "employer of choice" which will attract and retain the skilled workers they will need in the years to come.  As an added value, studies have proven that the hiring of people with disabilities will increase positive public image and brand loyalty. 
  • By not addressing programs to keep older workers and attracting people with disabilities by investing in training programs, flexible work schedules, and adjusted benefits, organizations will lose their "brain share" over the next several years.


Rockville Commerce Center, Building A, Unit 1
2410 Granite Ridge Road
Rockville, VA 23146
Phone: (804) 749-8646, Fax: (804) 784-7493


Related Items:

• EZ Access


• EU: Study on Assessing and Promoting e-Accessibility

• Nominations Open for U.S. FCC Chairman’s Award for Advancement in Accessibility (AAA)

• Webcast: U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy's Accessible Technology Webcast, Online Event

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