The World Health Organization estimates that more than 15% of the approximately 8 billion people on earth are disabled, which may surprise some and is only projected to rise in the future due to factors including an aging population.
According to research from the Return on Disability Group, only 4% of the 90% of companies that value diversity and inclusion include disability in their programs. Disabilities can affect people of any age, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.
A key issue is that four out of every five disabilities are invisible, such as heart disease, lung disease, hearing loss, and numerous chemical sensitivities. Individuals are also reluctant to disclose whether they identify as disabled out of concern about bias, prejudice, and discrimination at work.
Disclosing my disability to potential employers has been a challenge. I know I am not required to. When I do so, they no longer want to interview me. Cerebral Palsy is an apparent physical disability, and I want potential employers to know this. I can’t hide my walker or power wheelchair.
I wouldn’t want to work for an employer who was hesitant regarding my disability. I would gladly help them understand my needs. The more my needs are met, the more successful I will be. However, if they didn’t hire me because of inaccessibility or other disability-related issues, it is not my problem to address.
According to research published last year by the Business Disability Forum (BDF), consumers with disabilities are frequently left in a state of confusion and hesitancy because businesses are unsure about how accessible their items may be and how this type of information should be delivered.
Among the significant findings were that 65% of disabled consumers felt their purchase options were limited on a daily basis by barriers, and 43% reported abandoning an online or in-person purchase assignment early attributed to a lack of understanding on design and how it may relate to accessibility.
The financial repercussions for companies not accounting for the population of disabled people worldwide are potentially devastating. Disabled people’s global buying power equals a market the size of China. This amount is equal to $13 trillion. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, considering disabled people are the world’s largest minority.
Companies must make their items and services easily accessible to everyone. Accessibility issues cost a company money. For example, because the local movie theater is inaccessible, I don’t watch movies there. The owners could make more money if the theater were completely accessible.
After all, disabled individuals want to spend their money, work, and conduct business where they know they are valued both as customers and employees. We deserve to be treated with the same respect and dignity as non-disabled people.
Alexiou, Gus. “Retailers Lose Billions by Not Signposting Product Accessibility – New Report.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 30 June 2022, https://www.forbes.com/sites/gusalexiou/2022/06/30/retailers-lose-billions-by-not-signposting-product-accessibility–new-report/?sh=7a14e6814b07.
Caprino, Kathy. “The World’s Largest Minority Might Surprise You, And How We Can Better Serve Them.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 14 Apr. 2016, http://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2016/04/14/the-worlds-largest-minority-might-surprise-you-and-how-we-can-better-serve-them/?sh=737aa3ca496f.
Parker, Rhiannon, and Paul Polman. “Why Businesses Must Stop Disregarding People with Disabilities.” Time , Time, 12 Jan. 2023, https://time.com/collection/davos-2023/6246262/businesses-must-be-inclusive/.