The Spending Power of People with Disabilities Can Expand Your Business
Updated: March 16, 2021
During 3Play Media’s ACCESS at Home Event, Journalist Emily Yates mentioned the concept known in the United Kingdom as The Purple Pound and how it can expand your business. It represents the billions that businesses lose out on due to a lack of digital or physical accessibility.
In total, disabled people and the members of their household wield £274 billion (~$383 billion) in spending power in the UK – and it’s estimated that businesses lose out on £24 billion (~$34 billion) per year by ignoring the needs of disable people.
The implication of the Purple Pound is not limited to our friends across the pond. Here in the United States, a similarly untapped market exists. According to the CDC, more than 60 million (or 26% of) American adults live with a disability – ranging from a mobility issue to an inability to see or hear well. This constitutes a massive amount of people whose needs are oftentimes not met during a commerce experience, causing businesses to lose out on revenue.
All in all, disabled working-age Americans earn an estimated annual income of $490 billion and have an estimated annual discretionary income of more than $20 billion – not to mention the spending power of the friends, family, and professional network of those with disabilities.
This poses a question to all entrepreneurs hoping to expand their business – how can a business, its product(s), and/or its service(s) be made more accessible? An investment into accessibility is an investment in a multi-billion dollar market, composed of millions of buyers, who have a network of millions more.
And on top of that – it’s the right thing to do.
Below, we cover three simple yet effective ways to impact your bottom line for the better through accessibility.
How to Expand Your Business By Becoming More Accessible
1. Make Your Website More Accessible
By failing to make your website accessible, you set up your business for a potential costly accessibility lawsuit – which only serves to hinder the ability for you to expand your business.
As a rule of thumb, businesses should strive to make their websites ADA compliant – particularly businesses with online stores and/or businesses which have a publicly accessible location. Making a website accessible not only helps avoid these lawsuits, but it also increases the chance of securing the business of somebody with a disability.
For example, 80% of younger shoppers make impulse purchases online – but if your ecommerce site is not fully accessible, you run the risk of losing the sale to younger shoppers with disabilities that prevent them from understanding your product page without a screen reader or adding an item to their cart if they can’t use a mouse.
Progress towards a more accessible website can be made with simple, effective methods, such as:
- Adding alt text to your images to make images readable to those using screen readers.
- Adding captions to videos on your website (we’ll cover this one in-depth momentarily) for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- Adding a toggle to increase website text size for those who have vision impairments.
- Ensuring your website can be navigated without a mouse for those who use alternate methods of website navigation.
These fixes require little effort and investment, but have the potential to exponentially expand your business by appealing to this vast audience.
2. Add Captions to Your Videos
Video is one of the most impactful channels for a purchasing decision, with businesses relying on it for their marketing and sales efforts. Brightcove found that 76% of consumers have purchased a product or service after viewing a video – and that statistic makes complete sense. Video captures the authenticity of a user’s testimonial in a case study, shows the ease-of-use of a product in a demo video, and generates excitement for an online ad in a way that an image or the written word can’t always do.
Unfortunately, without captions, videos that feature voiceover or someone speaking on camera make it difficult or even impossible for those who are hard of hearing to understand the intended message. The sentiment of a satisfied customer or the pitch outlined by your marketing team is lost, causing frustration among certain viewers – and perhaps costing you a sale.
Fortunately, captioning your online videos is affordable and easy, and it can make all the difference to somebody who relies on captioning.
3. Think of Workarounds
The thought of developing accessible solutions purely for accessibility purposes is simply too limiting. Oftentimes, accessibility innovations end up seeing wide use by both those with and without disabilities.
For example, curb cuts – which were originally designed for wheelchair users to access sidewalks – can be used by parents pushing strollers or cyclists getting off a main road. A flat, long door lever – a necessity for those unable to grip and turn a traditional door knob – is also a favorite for those who have their hands full and can’t put down what they are carrying. Lastly, while video captions may be essential for those who are hard of hearing, they’re also used by those who are not hard of hearing for enhanced clarity, understanding another language, or added focus.
As you work to make an aspect of your business more accessible for some, you may find that you’ve made it better for all – which, naturally, could yield a chance to expand your business and generate more revenue. This success can only come with the mindset that accessibility measures can improve the overall situation for more people than you were intending.
Expand Your Business Through Accessibility
Whether it’s making adjustments to your physical location to allow more people to enter your store, making your website more accessible to online visitors, or expanding the power of your video’s messaging with captioning, making your products and services more accessible is a sure-fire way to expand your business. The spending power of people with disabilities is not to be ignored, so start planning ways to tap into this market – your new customers and their large networks will reward you for it.
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