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Debra Ruh

Employability & Technology

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25th Anniversary of the ADA Series: Marketing to Persons with Disabilities is a Business Advantage

Making it possible for stakeholders with disabilities and age-related limitations to access your goods and services is not only an important part of complying with federal – as well as international -- accessibility standards but also a strategic aspect of any organizational management plan.

Market opportunities have grown tremendously in the 25 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This is no longer a potential marketplace, but an exponential one

Image: Market opportunities have grown tremendously in the 25 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This is no longer a potential marketplace, but an exponential one.

A study by the U.S. Department of Education found that one in three households is affected by a disability. Let’s look at the numbers in other parts of the world. The 2000 U.S. Census reported that almost 42% of older adults (65+ years) have one or more disabilities. In fact, in the U.S., the percentage of persons with disabilities is larger than any single ethnic, racial, or cultural group.  At 19.3%, the size of this constituency exceeds the next largest group - Hispanic people (14.9%) - by a fairly wide margin.[1]

In the UK, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Europe estimates that 8.6 million people (aged 16 and over) self-identify as having a disability, which translates into 15% of the population. By 2010, 40% of the population will be over 45 – the age at which incidence of disability increases. On the aging scale, 33% of 50-60 year olds now have a disability.[2] Those over 50 years currently account for one-fifth of the UK population, and they own more than 80% of the country's asset wealth and are the group most likely to vote in general elections. 

In all of Europe, it is estimated that at least 39 million people live with a disability. It is also estimated that in every country, 10-20% of the population has some form of disability, a number that is only expected to grow (CSR).  

It’s obvious that millions of people living with some form disability go on about their day like all of us; they go to school, participate in leisure activities, venture out with family and friends, and eventually aim to be gainfully employed. Customers with disabilities, their families and friends represent a trillion dollar market segment. They, like other market segments, purchase products and services from companies that best meet their needs.

A large number of people polled say they prefer to patronize businesses that hire persons with disabilities as opposed to those that do not. Another benefit of employing persons with disabilities is increasing your opportunity to gain a lasting customer base.

Tapping into market benefits:

Recent trends demonstrate that everyone – people with and without disabilities - benefit when government agencies and businesses give stakeholders with disabilities an equal opportunity to access their services and obtain their goods. By positively recognizing people of all ability levels, businesses, schools, and government agencies can make it easier for all users to gain access to products and services.

Results that Count: By implementing some of these simple and cost-effective strategies:

  • Organizations can increase the effectiveness of government services and/or business sales by demonstrating and documenting product accessibility. 
  • Businesses and organizations can anticipate setting themselves apart, thereby creating a market differentiator.
  • Organizations can leverage a new market segment by demonstrating their leadership in the growing accessibility movement, and therefore capture a valuable consumer base that is currently up for grabs. 
  • Organizations can increase their public image and socially conscious standing by demonstrating their embrace of all people – those with disabilities, those without disabilities as well as those who may be aging and acquiring a disability for the first time in their lives.
  • Enables organizations to use accessible products to recruit and hire from an untapped, qualified labor pool.
  • Organizations will also gain loyalty of users and positive brand recognition from those who rely on their accessible products and services. 
Market opportunities have grown tremendously in the 25 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This is no longer a potential marketplace, but an exponential one.
For more information about Debra Ruh, please visit www.RuhGlobal.com or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In, G+, Pinterest, or Instagram: @debraruh.

[1] U.S. Department of Justice, 2005

[2]Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Europe


Related Items:

• Making Advanced Technology Useful for Independent Living for Disabled People at Home


• USA: Help Improve the Accessibility of Online Tools for Workers with Intellectual Disabilities

• Press Release from Council of Canadians with Disabilities

• BSI documentary points the way to accessibility in buildings and the Internet

• CSUN 2014: 29th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, San Diego, USA

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