Josh Basile, C4-5 Quadriplegic, Trial attorney, Disbelieve Rights Advocate, Community Relations Manager at accessiBe
There are 61 million adults in the United States living with a disability. It’s a population that represents over 26 percent of the adult population.
That number is growing too. With the United States aging population, it is projected that number will grow to over 73 million by the end of the decade. Worldwide more than 46% of those aged 60 years and over have disabilities. There’s also the fact that a disability can happen to anyone at any time – not just as we get older. Life’s fragile and disability does not discriminate. I know this better than most. As a teenager, a wave slammed me headfirst against the ocean floor shattering my neck and paralyzing me below my shoulders.
Of course, the term disability is a very inclusive term — there are lots of different types of disabilities. Some people have mobility impairments; some have visual or audio impairments. Whatever the disability may be though, these people are just like everyone else and that they are trying to live their life to the best it can be.
Part of living that “best life”— actually, a big part of it — is looking towards the future and trying to prepare for it. Investing in your future is a crucial part of preparing for retirement, and just financial security in general.
Not only does this apply to people with disabilities, it is actually even more important for them to be doing so. Those with a disability are far more likely to have a surprise large expense, whether that be for medical equipment, a future surgery, or a post-secondary health condition related to their disability. When these expenses happen, they are often sudden and unplanned. They can lead to tens of thousands of dollars of debt, which can quickly spiral out of control.
All of this highlights the need for those with disabilities to be investing, and for them to be doing so intelligently. The saying goes that the best time to have started investing was yesterday, and the second-best time is today. With accessibility it is best practice to do it from day one, and if not then today.
Over the last 20 years or so, we have seen how technology has enabled everyday people to access the resources they need to invest in their future.
There are a dozen sites you can go-to to buy and sell stock with a click of a button. If you are looking for research to do your due diligence to ensure that an investment makes sense, you can find dozens of articles, videos, and charts with a simple search. It doesn’t even particularly matter what kind of investment it is — you would likely be able to find information on it somewhere on the internet.
There’s a caveat to this, of course. Very little of what I just described is actually accessible for those with disabilities.
Only 3% of the Internet in 2022 meet WCAG accessibility guidelines. This is a scary statistic that can and must change. So many business owners do not realize that they are missing out on millions of brand-loyal customers that have a huge buying power. Inaccessible websites are missing key features and elements to support people with low vision or blindness — such as having simple alt text to help describe images.
Personally, I use voice dictation software, and it is a regular occurrence for me to come across a website where I cannot progress to where I need to. It might be a form that has a field that I can’t fill out, or maybe a video that I can see exists but can’t access. There is nothing more frustrating than knowing what you were looking for is right there at your fingertips, but as you grab it you cannot hold on. It’s like standing outside the gates to an exclusive club – that could very well end up holding the keys to your future financial stability.
So now I ask, will people feel that way on your website? Do you even know?
I’m not asking these questions to villainize the many different types of financial websites; these aren’t often questions that people get asked. I mentioned that only 3% of the Internet is accessible, and that isn’t from maliciousness. It’s from people not really thinking about it. No business sets out to turn away clients with disabilities that are ready to engage and invest. Businesses strive to be compliant, avoid fines and lawsuits, and continually grow with new customer acquisition.
And people with disabilities represent a huge and often untapped market – ”total after-tax disposable income for working-age people with disabilities is about $490 billion.”
If you really want to be a part of the solution, as well as reach this ripe market a great place to start is to utilize a free auditing tool to learn in seconds about your website’s level of accessibility. For any website owner, this can be an eye-opening experience and can lift the veil on where your website is doing a great job, and where it is falling short. Once you know where you stand, you can do something about it.
Every day that goes by where people with disabilities are left unable to invest in their futures will end up setting them back months and eventually years down the road.
The financial ecosystems have a lot to gain by embracing inclusion and by opening their digital doors to people with disabilities. Leveraging supportive technologies can catalyze scalability to help create an even playing field, not one that tilts the scales even further. Wealth equity plays a crucial role in health equity and increases opportunities for people with disabilities to prosper, now and in the future, just like everyone else.
There is still a lot of work that needs to be done, but with the help of trusted web accessibility solutions and services, website owners can be a part of the solution.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.
Image and article originally from www.nasdaq.com. Read the original article here.