Marketing to People with Disabilities

by Meryl K Evans | Category: Business, Marketing, Meryl's Notes Blog 1 comment

Nadine Vogel has a great article on marketing to people with disabilities, but it is not available online. Her article references a U.S. Census Bureau report that says 20% of adult Americans have a disability. 20%! That’s one out of every five people you talk to. With numbers like that, why would marketers want to overlook this market?

One reason Vogel provides is that “People are generally uncomfortable with disabilities.” True statement. This year, I am taking a break from doing PTA Web sites for two local schools. I’m friends with one of the women who does the webmaster job and she tells me about people contacting her with requests.

I never had this many or these types of requests in my five years as a webmaster for one school. It isn’t long before the tune sounds familiar. People who take over my job receive more calls, requests, and comments than I did when in the job. Over time, I have figured out that some people may not be comfortable telling someone what to do when that person has a disability.

It sounds silly plus I have friends who ask me to do many things for them, but it’s the only logical explanation. My friend takes her duties seriously — so I know it’s not a factor of she isn’t keeping up. In my corporate career, I saw co-workers receiving constant phone calls and visitors while I had a hardly a drop. I understood about the phone calls, but not stopping by?

Seeing this makes a girl question herself. Was there something wrong with my personality? Did my voice annoy them? Or did the plain fact I was deaf make them uncomfortable?

No matter. People with disabilities have the same wants, needs, and hopes as an average person. We want people to like us. We want to succeed. We want to have family and friends. We want to look stylish. We want to come across as smart and valuable.

Marketers did get one thing right — targeting the Baby Boomers. If they can target that market because of “age,” then they should be able to take a similar approach with people with disabilities. Guess what? Many of these Baby Boomers face disabilities that come with aging.

Don’t shy away. Talk to us. You might be surprised and you might impress the boss.

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1 comment

  • Posted by bookwritegirl on October 17th, 2007, 6:18 PM

    Hmm…they tend to market to deaf people only on deaf websites. Like DeafNation.com.

    I’ve had a reverse case of marketing, however. The armed forces keeps trying to recruit me on my campus. I see them come up to me, so I casually tuck my hair back behind my ear, then they see my hearing aid or cochlear implant, then they practically ignore me. It’s a funny sort of sad.

    You’re right. I feel excluded when people ignore us like the recruiters do. We all want to be wanted, and are hurt when we’re turned down, though we can and often do whatever hearing people do, and often more than what they do.

    I mean, hearing classmates complain about their 15 credit hour workload, and get bad grades, while I’m doing a load and a half and am getting a 3.975 and a few scholarships.

    Sad. But nice to know I’m not crazy or the only one :)

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