Disability Demographics

Very few companies understand the size and complexity of the consumers with disabilities demographic. Helix Opportunity has the data points, and research.

The world of disability has been deeply rooted in medical terms for the last two centuries. The standard definition is: a medical condition that substantially limits one or more activities of daily living. Typically, that is seen as a physical or intellectual “impairment from the norm” as defined by a clinician. But, disability is just as much how an individual sees him/herself, or how society perceives that individual. Under what condition, time, and environment an individual considers themselves, or society considers them, disabled is an open question that is complicated by perspective.

DISABILITY DOESN’T EQUAL POVERTY

Once accommodated, other employees may resent and begrudge that employee, without even realizing that they have a disability. All they see is special treatment. You cannot share any employee’s disability information with anyone else, so your workforce may begin to resent the manager for treating one employee more privileged than others. “Harmony at Work,” through Cooperative Understanding teaches organizations how to accommodate every employee’s needs, and empower everyone to perform at their best, in collaboration with the team.

THE POSITIVE PERSPECTIVE

Persons with disabilities are a lucrative, driving economic force, amassing wealth, the world over. Still, we are an untapped global population rivaling the size of China. Consumers with disabilities are, potentially, your most powerful ally in a marketplace takeover.

G10 economies have been working towards including persons with disabilities to actively, and fully, participate in society and the economy since 1972. The initial beneficiaries of these efforts now command nearly $2 trillion in annual earnings. The demographics of the aging baby-boomer population are increasing the number of persons with disabilities, and their market wealth, on a daily basis.

As Boomers’ physical realities change, their need and desire to remain active in society harmonizes with the demands of the disability community. These seniors, age 50 and older, control a larger share of G10 national wealth than any previous generation. The result is three generations of skilled consumers who have similar needs, emerging identities and tremendous buying power. The Baby-Boomer population represents more than 77 million people, controlling more than $19 trillion in household earnings. 50% of this aging G10 population lives with one or more disabilities. These seniors have re-defined every generation they have touched. They are characterized as being dragged into old age, kicking and screaming.

A LITTLE BIT OF CONSCIOUS EFFORT MAKES A TREMENDOUS IMPACT

Companies and investors seeking to capitalize big returns on little investment, in a market rewarding innovation are now targeting consumers with disabilities in their business development strategies. However, most have yet to step beyond legal obligation and civic duty, into market recognition and capitalization. Consumers with disabilities are increasingly more self-aware of the significant impact that our buying power makes on your bottom line. Thus, we choose to make well-informed, calculated purchases, based on a number of emotional, rather than practical factors (i.e. how we feel about our customer experience).

Persons with Disabilities are more than just wheelchair users, and service dog owners. However, they are the group that receives the most public attention. That is because it is easier for legacy programs to use visuals to deliver a fund-raising message. But, in all actuality, 75% of all disabilities are hidden, or invisible. Those with visible disabilities and those with invisible disabilities may have different identities because of their disability, but we have one pertinent, common, interest. We all want to share in the same life experiences as our non-disabled counterparts, without being unintentionally stigmatized as different.

More than 2 billion consumers and employees, worldwide, controlling nearly $7 trillion in discretionary income, annually, are considered to be family members and friends of consumers with disabilities. They have an intimate reason to understand disability and its impact on those that they have an emotional connection with. Formal discussions with this group reveal that Friends and Family are “evangelists” that act on an emotional response to the experiences of persons with disabilities in the consumer marketplace. This has profound ramifications for any company, whether you are targeting, or ignoring, the consumers with disabilities demographic.

MEANINGFUL & AUTHENTIC VALIDATION IS A DEMAND, NOT A REQUEST

It is critical to view persons with disabilities as part of the mainstream market, and not isolate us as consumers. All too often, companies conceive products and services, conjure up land-use developments, websites, or building concepts and think, “now I need to make them accessible”. Persons with disabilities demand more than just the ability to use your products and services, or function in your physical and virtual environments. We demand to be included in the very same experiences that we see and hear our non-disabled family members, and friends, having. Accessibility and Universal Design merely create separate, but equal experiences.

It is time to focus on including consumers of all different abilities, backgrounds, cultures, and languages in the meaningful experience that your products, services, and environments offer, through “Harmony at Work”.

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