People with disabilities have an annual disposable income of more than $220 billion USD - yet the vast majority of market research is not designed to include them. All too often the exclusion of people with disabilities causes companies to seek retrofitted solutions to address access barriers. The tech industry finally is waking up to the realization that there is a need and a growing demand to create apps and other technology-based solutions that go beyond solving boredom and entertainment issues for the masses to offering personalized solutions that eliminate barriers for 57 million consumers with access needs.
High-tech solutions, fueling new assistive/adaptive technologies, including connected independence technologies, offer consumers with disabilities and their loved ones solutions to everyday at-home and away-from-home living challenges. Roughly one out of four consumers with a disability use some form of an assistive technology; and among this group, more than 2/3 use an alternative input device (devices designed to provide additional accessibility). In some cases a modified version of traditional hardware (that incorporates actions coordinated with the consumer’s unique ability to function), alternative input devices enable people with sensory, dexterity, mobility, language and learning/communication difficulties to use a computer, tablet or smartphone and reap the benefits these technologies offer.
Assistive technology giants (e.g., Microsoft, Apple, IBM and Google) see a great opportunity to design for accessibility from the start to enhance the abilities of consumers with access needs. Consumers with disabilities are frequently left in the shadows of technological advancements that are a source of empowerment and attainment for others. Since accessibility enables people of all abilities to realize their full potential, products should aim to be accessible to the widest possible audience.
Alternative Input Device User Profile
As part of our ongoing effort to increase awareness about individuals with disabilities, the most recent findings from the Pathways for Greater Inclusion of People with Disabilities Study (Pathways Study) focused on users of assistive technology and in particular users of alternative input devices. We found that:
- 49% have low vision and 25% are blind, 25% are deaf, 53% have dexterity difficulties, 39% have learning challenges and 21% have difficulties with language and communication.
- Median age is 38 and 43% are ages 18-34
- 1/3 are college graduates and more than 1/3 have a household income in excess of $80K/year
- 41% are married and 34% are married with children
- 65% bank at retail, 79% shop at grocery stores, 46% visited a car dealership within the past year, 55% ordered take out from a restaurant and 59% attended a recreational event (sporting, concert, theater, movies, etc.)
- ¾ say they are more likely to shop more often and spend more money with companies that take into consideration the needs of people with disabilities
- 78% believe there is a need for companies to create really useful products and services that improve the overall quality of life for people with disabilities
To review additional research from Pathways for Greater Inclusion of People with Disabilities click here.