Are You Getting Your Share of the Disability Market?

Disability Action Center, NW along with Lane Independent Living Alliance wants to create a more inclusive community for all residents. The blue-path.org online directory project is designed to help individuals with disabilities work and live independently in their community. And as more businesses become increasingly accessible to people with disabilities this has the potential for wide reaching and lasting economic impact on the community at large and yield quality, long lasting benefits and outcomes for all its citizens.

There is a huge, growing and virtually untapped market out there.

More than 20% of Americans are living with a disability. Wounded veterans are returning in record numbers and baby boomers are developing similar, age-related limitations by the millions every year. People with disabilities are the largest minority group in the country, crossing all ages, genders, races and economic sectors. Customers with disabilities and their friends and families are found everywhere and that represents an estimated $220 billion in discretionary spending. This is twice the spending power of the teen market.

Thinking beyond the local market, if you were a tourist with a disability, where would you pick as a destination to stop at this spring or summer? Say you had a vision problem like macular degeneration, would you be certain that you could find restaurants there with large print, online or Braille menus? Or if you couldn’t climb steps because of a hip replacement, would you know that there were area attractions or stores with easy access?

Does your business’s marketing include information about your accessibility? Would tourists browsing brochure stands or online see that your coffee shop or bookstore or restaurant is accessible?

The Tourist Industry of America tells us that four out of 10 travelers either have a disability themselves or a companion with a disability.

People with disabilities have extra things to consider when they travel that others don’t. When planning vacations online, can they easily tell that they’ll be able to book an accessible room? When deciding on a restaurant to visit, will they see that you have accessible entrances or that you accommodate specific needs?

September 9th marked the very first “Mapathon” event held in the Moscow area to get business surveyed and listed on the BluePath website. Going out en-masse, armed with yardsticks, empowered us as a group. With the BluePath ‘Quick Look checklist it took only 10 minutes for a team to complete the survey. And once the business owner understood the economic benefit they can achieve by being accessible, they were more than happy to assist our Pathfinders.

Clearly, posting your business on blue-path.org is a win-win for all area residents and businesses. Beyond making your business accessible for consumers with disabilities, these improvements also make your business more accessible as a workplace and creates greater employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Did you know that once you become a BluePath Member your business:

  • Is highlighted as accessible on the BluePath website, as well as marketed through local Chambers of Commerce and Centers For Independent Living?
  • Is provided with a window cling that promotes your accessibility?
  • Can receive information on tax incentives for changes to make your business more accessible?
  • Can receive employee training for helping customers with disabilities?
  • Can receive reviews from actual customers to help you reach that level of accessibility.

Often it only takes simple, inexpensive changes to remove these barriers. And these changes are good for business.