Cindy Powell

Accessibility attracts business

The 56.7 million Americans with disabilities comprise the largest minority group in the United States. One in six people will acquire a disability during their lifetime. The longer we live, the more likely we will acquire a disability, requiring products and services that fulfill age-related changes: cognition, hearing, mobility and vision. By 2030, 71.5 million Baby Boomers will be over 65, possessing half of America’s discretionary income and 3/4 of our nation’s assets. There are tax incentives available for barrier removal and making businesses accessible. Accessibility attracts business and discretionary spending from families and friends of people who have disabilities.


Below are a few considerations all Americans can provide to increase accessibility for people with temporary limitations resulting from accident, illness or injury; and people who have permanent disabilities, including older Americans:

1 Clutter-Free Counters

2 Face the person, speaking clearly, not covering mouth or turning away while speaking

3 Frequently tightening accessible restroom hardware (e.g., grab bars)

4 Insulating pipes under sinks to prevent burns (people who use wheelchairs)

5 Magnifying glass or printed information in large print (18 or larger Arial)

6 No deep pile carpeting

7 No loose gravel outdoors

8 Do not store goods in accessible restrooms or elevator

9 Obstacle free aisles

10 Prompt elevator repair

11 Prompt snow removal from accessible parking spaces and routes

12 Remaining on telephone when receiving relay calls

13 Selecting hypo-allergenic fragrance-free products: air fresheners, cleaning materials, hand cleansers

14 Sensitivity and customer service training for all personnel

15 Unlocked accessible entrance during business hours

Below are links to a few helpful resources.

„Accessibility Benefits Older Adult Customers

At Your Service: Welcoming Customers with Disabilities

— Free self-paced best practices web course

„ Customers with Disabilities Mean Business

„Reaching Out to Customers with Disabilities
Free self-paced accessibility web course

„Tax Incentives for Business

Cindy Powell is training and development specialist at Carmel Community Living Corporation and its nonprofit ACESO Foundation. Over the past four decades, Powell has advised businesses, employers, government agencies and nonprofits about best practices with people with disabilities. She has served on local, state and national disability organization boards of directors. In 2006, she received the International Association of Workforce Professionals Services to Specialized Populations award.

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