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The disability market represents 1.3 billion people globally who face challenges across three general areas—dexterity, cognition or sensory issues. Equivalent in size to the population of China, the disability market represents an annual disposable income of $1 trillion—and $544 billion in the US alone. Individuals with disabilities and consumers who care about the disability community are beginning to direct their loyalty to companies that demonstrate action inclusive of people with disabilities—as customers and employees.

Businesses in the United States are losing a significant customer base when they are not considering the accessibility needs of individuals with disabilities. Millions of people with disabilities regularly travel, shop, and eat out with families and friends.  The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2002 Survey of Income and Program Participation found that there are 51.2 million people with disabilities in the United Sates.  That is more than one in six people in the United States that are potential customers for businesses that are accessible to people with disabilities. (US Department of Justice)

Companies are beginning to recognize that people with disabilities not only have disposable income that can increase their financial bottom-line, but they also bring a wide range of education, experience, expertise and perspective to the workforce.  People with disabilities build a more authentic, loyal, and creative culture. (Robert Reiss, Forbes.  July 30, 2015)

How can a retail store make their merchandise more accessible to customers with various disabilities? Some retail stores, such as department stores, may be able to rearrange display racks and shelves in a way that does not result in a significant loss of selling space. Placing lightweight items on higher shelves and heavier items on lower shelves and offering the use of a device for reaching high items will improve the usability of a store not only for customers with mobility impairments but also for customers with manual impairments. Otherwise, sales clerks should offer assistance in reaching items.  Moving boxes and displays that impede access to aisles or could trip a customer with a vision impairment is a simple, common sense solution to certain access problems that also makes access easier for other customers.

Freedom Resource Center staff provides technical assistance to businesses to improve accessibility for customers or employees with disabilities.

(image description: a female is facing a display of socks and a display of socks are behind her as well.  The shopping aisle between the sock displays is very narrow)

The path a person with a disability takes to enter and move through your business is called an “accessible route.” This route, which must be at least three feet wide, must remain accessible and not be blocked by items such as vending or ice machines, newspaper dispensers, furniture, filing cabinets, display racks, or potted plants.









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