The Global Economics of Disability
Wed 30 April 2014
‘People with Disability’ is an enormous market that comprises approximately 1.3 billion people worldwide – on par with the population of China - according to a recent report from Fifth Quadrant Analytics. The report also states that, when combined with their friends and family, this group grows to 2.2 billion people, who control over US$8 trillion annually in disposable income.
In Australia, there are approximately four million people with disability, with a combined disposable annual income of around AU$54million. One in three Australians either has disability, or is close to someone who does. With an ageing population, and a strong correlation between age and disability, this figure is only set to increase in the future.
Despite the size and spending power of this group,many mainstream businesses still fail to recognise people with disability as an emerging market. Employing people with disability and developing accessible products and services for people with disability, is still more often than not thought of as an optional thing to do rather than simply good business, and many organisations can’t see how it could link to improved business performance.
The report Sustainable Value Creation Through Disability, aims to change business perception about people with disability, and persuade business to look at this group as a defined market to target with appropriate products, services and employment initiatives.
AND works to promote the business benefits of employing people with disability, and including people with disability as customers and stakeholders. Employers who make their recruitment practices barrier-free to people with disability ensure that they get access to the widest possible talent pool, which makes it easier to find the best person for the job.
Australian businesses that focus their attention on ensuring their products, services and premises (both physical and virtual) are accessible to people with disability, will gain access to not only the four million Australians living with disability, but also their families, friends and colleagues.
Generally, technology and processes that benefit people with disability benefit all consumers. One such example is text messaging (SMS), which was initially developed specifically for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and which is now one of the most used forms of communication on the planet. Creating products and services that are accessible to everyone encourages innovation and creativity, and can have an extremely positive impact on business performance.