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Accessible Design Makes Good Business Sense

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Accessible Design Makes Good Business Sense

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.

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Ann Pietrangelo

Ann Pietrangelo is the author of No More Secs! Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Multiple Sclerosis and Catch That Look: Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Triple-Negative Breast Cancer. She is a freelance writer and member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo

37 comments

+ add your own
4:10PM PDT on May 18, 2010

Thanks for the post.

9:52PM PDT on Mar 26, 2010

As soon as someone understands the importance of accessible design, they then must willingly decide if their content will be designed accessibly or not. For most of us, this ethical dilemma will provoke us to do the right thing.
iedge karte

4:19PM PST on Mar 12, 2010

Not all malls are accessible to persons in wheel chairs.

10:42PM PST on Feb 28, 2010

great article

11:38PM PST on Feb 26, 2010

thanks

11:38PM PST on Feb 26, 2010

interesting

5:30PM PST on Feb 26, 2010

Fantastic!

2:13PM PST on Feb 26, 2010

Areas should be open to everyone.

6:45AM PST on Feb 25, 2010

I think this is great

2:10PM PST on Feb 24, 2010

Thanks for the great post !!!

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