Business owners take note. Discretionary spending to the tune of $175 billion is at stake.
People with disabilities enjoy going out and socializing with their friends and family… and they spend money. If they cannot enter your establishment without a great deal of difficulty, they will patronize your competitor. If you are under the impression that there are no people with disabilities in your neighborhood, it is more likely that they simply are not visiting your place of business and are spending their discretionary dollars elsewhere.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 10 percent of the world’s population — approximately 650 million people, of which 200 million are children, live with some form of disability.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau (2007), 18 percent of the population of the United States has some level of disability, representing 51.2 million people, 11 percent of which are children. Of those, 32.5 million have a severe disability.The number of Americans age six and above who need assistance with one or more activities of daily living is 10.7 million; 2.7 million aged 15 and up use a wheelchair; and another 9.1 million use other mobility aids such as a cane, crutches, or walker. We’re talking about a lot of people — and potential customers.
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates this large group to have $175 billion in discretionary spending, more than four times that of highly sought-after demographic of 8-14 year olds.
Business owners may believe their establishment to be accessible when it is not. The best way to know for sure is to invite people with various disabilities to visit. Ask them to rate the parking lot, entrances, rest rooms, and take full advantage of whatever services you offer. Listen carefully to their feedback, both positive and negative. You may find that only a few inexpensive tweaks will make the difference between a business that welcomes people with disabilities and one that shuts them out.