In today's business landscape, embracing diversity and inclusivity is not just a moral obligation but a wise business decision. One segment of the population that is often overlooked in terms of their potential financial power is people with disabilities and the aging population. By accommodating online products and catering to their unique requirements, businesses can unlock a wealth of opportunities. Follow along to find out why it is a good business idea to prioritize accessibility for these demographics.
It is imperative to acknowledge the significant market segment made up of individuals with disabilities. The American Institutes for Research reports in the United States, approximately 64 million people have disabilities, and 35% are of working age between 16-65 years old. US adults with disabilities have a total disposable income of approximately $490 billion, which is similar to other market segments, such as African Americans ($501 billion) and Hispanics ($582 billion). Working-age individuals with disabilities also have a discretionary income of approximately $21 billion, exceeding the combined discretionary income of the African-American ($3 billion) and Hispanic ($16 billion) market segments.
It's important not to overlook the senior population, especially since Baby Boomers hold 50% of the wealth in the United States as stated in The New York Times. Estimates show that Baby Boomers have assets valued at $78.3 trillion, which is nine times more than the wealth owned by Millennials. By making your products, services, and physical spaces accessible, you tap into a substantial consumer base with significant purchasing power.
Recognizing the financial power of people with disabilities and the aging population is crucial for businesses with online products, aiming to thrive in an inclusive society. By investing in accessibility, companies open the door to a significant consumer base, enhance their brand reputation, and drive innovation.
Here’s how you can make your online product more accessible:
- Design with good color contrast: the internet has free tools to check contrast ratio. Including high contrast in design helps people with low vision or in scenarios when the light is too bright to see the screen.
- Avoid small and confusing fonts: although this may feel like doing this is limiting design choices, consumers will be much happier when they can clearly read and understand what you are trying to communicate with them.
- Do not overcrowd your web pages: ideally, one task per page with lots of padding.
- Clear and concise forms: provide labels to help fill out the forms and explanatory error messages to help to fix the errors. Do not place any important information in the placeholders.
- Provide generous amounts of time to complete the tasks: Keep in mind some people may be very slow typers and need a break or not have enough attention to complete all of the tasks.
- Write for secondary education reading level: this helps to fight reading fatigue. It is also a good rule to simplify writing where you can.
- Make clickable elements hard to miss: this benefits a wide range of people from having shaky hands, using a mouthstick stylus, or simply trying to type in public transportation.
- Avoid flashing, moving effects: Strobing, blinking, flashing and flickering can cause seizures in sensitive people. Allow users to disable such features to avoid any harm.
- Allow users to zoom, use any size/width device, vertical and landscape modes: ensure your content reflows nicely to accommodate any width and height without the need of scrolling horizontally.
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