Inaccessibility alienates disabled consumers

accessibility keyhole

New research conducted by Purple – a UK-based disability organisation encouraging accessible shopping and responsible for the Purple Tuesday movement – has revealed that one in two disabled people struggle to make purchases online or in person and, as such, has released a call to action exclusively aimed at the insurance industry, noting that the accessibility imbalance is causing UK insurers lose out on roughly £249 billion of revenue each year

The organisation’s latest poll highlights that more than half of respondents asked are struggling to make purchases of products/services online due to their disability, and it seems that disabled young people (aged between 16 and 24) fare the worst – over three-quarters note that they have found it difficult to buy goods online or in person due to their disability on more than one occasion.

Purple cites data suggesting that one-fifth of the UK population (more than 13 million people) has a disability, and 80 per cent of these have a hidden disability. “This means that, on average, 20 per cent of your customers are likely to have a disability and the majority of those people will need additional customer care, but you would not be aware who those individuals are at first glance, if at all,” the company writes in its letter to the insurance industry.

Indeed, Purple’s new poll of people who consider themselves to be disabled has revealed that respondents spend on average £69 with insurance businesses every month. So, there’s a lot to be gained from taking part in the campaign.

So, what’s the solution? With Purple Tuesday fast approaching on 12 November (a day which celebrates UK companies that are improving the customer experience for disabled shoppers), Purple has detailed some of the ways in which respondents feel that companies can improve their accessibility to disabled people.

Disabled customers revealed that inaccessible and unusable locations, poor customer service and a lack of understanding about disabilities were the main reasons they struggled to spend their money. So it should come as no surprise that more than half of respondents (56 per cent) agreed that improving staff understanding of different disabilities would encourage them to spend their disposable income, estimated to be £249 billion a year. Furthermore, over one in five respondents said that hiring a disabled person would make them more likely to make a purchase.

“It should simply not be the case that one in two disabled people struggle to make purchases online or in person,” said Mike Adams OBE, Chief Executive of Purple. “Small changes can make a big difference to the customer experience; we want to give organisations the confidence to improve their services for disabled people.”

Poll respondents advise businesses to sign up to Purple Tuesday to mark their commitment to providing improved accessibility to disabled shoppers. Organisations that register for Purple Tuesday will benefit from free resources from Purple on topics such as website accessibility and customer service training, and in return, Purple asks that business make a minimum of one commitment to improve the customer experience for disabled people, such as conducting an audit of an organisation’s website to ensure that it’s accessible, or staff training to help them communicate effectively with disabled consumers.