When website accessibility is mentioned as a growing trend or a necessary step to mitigate legal trouble, you usually get one of two responses:
- There aren’t that many people that use the internet with disabilities, and they probably aren’t using our company website.
- Bigger companies are the only ones at real risk here.
It’s a common misconception that the market for accessibility is small.
That there aren’t a lot of people with disabilities that are prevented from using inaccessible websites.
Or that it’s just not worth the money, time and effort required to do it.
But that’s not true.
The size of the disability market is and has been growing for years, and it’s a hidden fact that their discretionary spending power is impressive as compared to other markets.
Here’s why accessibility is smart business, and why ignoring it isn’t.
There are 61+ Million Americans With Disabilities (and it’s growing year by year)
Ignoring those with disabilities isn’t just unfair for equal access… it’s terrible for your market share and your bottom line.
Even if you are a small business or a niche company, the data shows that disabled Americans are attempting to interact with you online, yet fail due to inaccessibility.
According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 61 million adults in the United States live with a disability.
Compared to the overall United States adult population, that’s 26%, or about one out of every four adults living with a disability.
People with disabilities experience mobility, cognitive, hearing, vision, and other impairments that may impact their ability to access your website and engage with your business. This prevents them from purchasing and being a loyal customer.
But do they even try to access the internet? Of course they do. And they have significant spending power.
Those With Disabilities Have Big Spending Power
According to a 2018 report from the American Institutes for Research:
The total disposable incomes (post-tax) for working-age individuals with disabilities is nearly $500 billion.
Compared to other segments and markets in the United States, they hold impressive buying power.
- African American market: $501 billion
- Hispanic market: $582 billion
Disposable income is defined as “the amount of money available to a household for both saving and spending, after taxes. This is the net income after taxes or the take-home pay that an individual can choose to spend or save.”
Discretionary income, on the other hand is defined as “the disposable income remaining after paying for personal necessities, such as food, shelter and clothing.”
While those with disabilities have a slightly lower total disposable income than other markets in the United States, they have a higher discretionary income, or money to spend after taxes and necessary living costs.
According to the same study from AIR, discretionary income for working-age people with disabilities was $21 billion, higher than the African American and Hispanic markets combined.
So, ignoring the disability market is bad business.
Not only is it smart to target these customers, but supporting socially responsible causes is the right thing to do.
And in the modern era, consumers love companies that work to support causes and make a difference.
U.S Consumers Like Companies That Support Causes
Supporting causes isn’t just the right thing to do for your business; it’s also the smart thing to do because consumers love brands that care about helping others.
According to a recent study of more than 2,000 Americans, 66% of people ages 18 to 34 were more likely to desire working for a company that supports ethical and social causes or charity than those that don’t.
Looking to expand your employee base and grow your business?
You need to be supporting social causes.
Not only does supporting causes improve hiring of talented young people, it improves sales, too.
A 2017 study by the Havas Group found that 75% of consumers expect brands to make bigger impacts on wellbeing and quality of life, yet less than half are doing it.
This presents a significant opportunity to be an early adopter of doing more than just making your business money.
A similar study looking at consumer behavior and social causes found that 90% of Americans surveyed wanted to purchase from companies backing social issues.
- 26% of adults in America, or 61 million people, have some type of disability.
- They have a discretionary spending power that’s larger than African Americans and Hispanics combined.
- Supporting accessibility widens your target market and allows you to cater to this segment.
- Your brand is more likely to be viewed favourably and appeal to customers who aren’t buying from you yet, as 90% of Americans prefer companies that back social issues.
U.S consumers love supporting companies that work to make the world better.
By making your website accessible, you expand your target market to those with disabilities and even beyond to those who support companies backing social change.
Catering to Accessibility Has Compounding Impacts
Disabilities that impact internet usage come in a multitude of forms.
According to data from the 2017 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, millions are motor impaired, impacting their ability to use traditional mouse navigation:
15.5 million Americans have a cognitive disability, like severe brain or head injuries that make complex website navigation tough.
Another 11.4 million Americans are hard of hearing or deaf, leaving them unable to hear videos on your website and consume content without proper captioning.
7.7 million Americans are visually disabled or legally blind and must use assistive devices like screen readers to use your website. Yet, most websites are not coded to be fully-compatible with these devices.
On top of that, 3.4 million are prone to seizures from intense website features, popups, or flashing designs.
Catering to different abilities involves several changes to an existing website to make it user-friendly.
For instance, traditional website navigation with a mouse is difficult or impossible for those with motor impairments, forcing them to use a mouse-stick for navigation. But navigating an entire site like this can take far too long if sites aren’t built with keyboard-only navigation in mind.
Or someone that has a hearing impairment needs captions to fully grasp the video content on your site. Without them, consuming the video content isn’t possible:
These changes are critical for driving better performance and opening doors for a bigger accessibility-friendly target market.
But the impacts of these fundamental website changes reach far beyond just the accessibility market.
Take captions on video content for example. While mainly used to provide accessibility for hearing impaired users, captions will benefit any user on your website when they are in public spaces:
People work from coffee shops, libraries and bookstores every single day. Captions aren’t just helpful for those with disabilities, but they improve your site functionality for everyone.
Similarly, providing better contrasting colors on your website for visually or cognitively impaired users not only improves their access, but also makes browsing on the go more natural for everyone, preventing glare in bright or sunny spaces.
Navigation designed to be simple and accessible benefits those with cognitive disabilities, but it also benefits all users.
Better navigation provides better experiences for anyone using your site, reducing frustration, bounce rates, and improving conversions.
The size of the accessibility market alone should be enough of a catalyst for small business owners to institute accessible features on their websites. But, when you look at the potential outreaching effects like consumer brand loyalty and overall better websites for any experience, it’s a no-brainer.
How to Cater to Your Customers with Disabilities
Chances are, if your website was not built with accessibility in mind, then it’s not accessible.
So, how do you cater to your disabled customers? What’s the first step you can take?
First, make a firm commitment to accessibility.
This could involve letting your customers and users know that you are working with your company to create an accessible site for any user and to generally improve the user experience.
This will not only open your doors to the disability market but also improve the browsing for customers of any ability.
While accessibility can take a few weeks or months to implement, it’s great to inform your user base that you are working on it.
This reassures them that you are supporting their needs, supporting social causes, and improving the experience for everyone.
Accessibility can come in many forms when it comes to developing a website.
But most are expensive. Specialized, experienced developer teams are going to charge you $27,000 to $50,000 and even into the hundreds of thousands for a one-time build. This doesn’t include maintenance and retainer contracts that could cost you thousands extra each month.
At Accessly, we’ve developed a platform to host your website that complies with WCAG standards to help your website achieve accessibility.
In three easy steps, we develop your website in just four weeks directly on our hosting platform:
For a fraction of what an accessible site normally costs, we open the doors for your company to have a potentially 26% bigger target market by providing access to those who don’t currently have it.
Accessibility is smart business, and waiting any longer could even land you in legal trouble.
With website accessibility becoming a growing trend, it’s common for businesses to ask questions.
Accessibility has typically been expensive to achieve, requiring the hiring of full-time developer teams with extensive experience in ADA law and accessibility standards.
For many, the misconception that the disability market is small and lacks spending power, has held them back from taking website accessibility seriously.
But, as this article has shown, there are 61 million disabled Americans with a larger discretionary spending power than multiple markets combined, so website accessibility isn’t something you can afford to ignore it.
Companies that support social causes are also gaining traction amongst American consumers, providing yet another way to benefit from accessibility: brand loyalty and support.
Simply put: accessibility is smart business that opens your target market and helps you grow.