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Understanding Accommodations

It’s just good service

Integrating accommodations within your organization to include everyone in your services is a marketing strategy that can be great for business. It can increase your profit and raise your brand awareness. Offering your menu in Braille, using the 711 relay system to contact deaf clients, and making your website accessible are a few ways to open your business to a whole new consumer base. There are many more opportunities to expand your business. Just check out our best practices to find helpful tips.

“Representing a population of 1.1 billion, people with disabilities (PWD) are an emerging market the size of China. Their friends and family add another 1.9 billion potential consumers that act on their emotional connection to PWD. Together, they control over $9 trillion in annual disposable income globally. Companies and governments seeking new ways to create value for stakeholders must begin acting to attract this newly unleashed cohort.”

Rich Donovan1

In Newfoundland and Labrador alone, the average total income of the 66,470 people with disabilities in the province amounts to $1.36 billion2 . In Canada, people with disabilities directly represent a purchasing power of $25 billion per year3 . However, very few companies have focused on this market, leaving a large window of opportunity and waiting profit. As well, nine out of ten Canadians know at least one person with a visible or non-visible disability.4 Add the dollars of these family and friends to the dollars of people with disabilities and you have a consumer base, with a sizeable purchasing power, that is not being reflected in the current market.

It’s not just family and friends who are invested in the business of people with disabilities. 78% of Canadians say they are more likely to buy a product or service from a company that has a policy of hiring people with disabilities, rather than a company that does not.5 Making your business more accessible to people of all disabilities can help your business become more socially responsible, while also improving your business’ image.

“Businesses with a better focus on the disabled customer have gained a new market and expanded their overall customer base to include family, friends, older people, and parents with pushchairs.”6

People with disabilities tend to be loyal customers with repeat business. Making your services more inclusive also enables many other people, such as parents who have strollers or customers carrying other packages, to enjoy your business. It could also broaden your worldwide market and may spark the creation of mainstream products.

“Companies could look at designing for accessibility as a sales opportunity. Most features that are accessible for the disabled have great value to everybody.”

Donald A. Norman, former VP of Apple Inc.7

There are many examples of products that have become mainstream in the global market, which were originally designed for people with disabilities. Ken Harrenstein, a deaf software engineer with Google, led the development of a captioning tool for YouTube videos. He was looking to benefit deaf people who were using YouTube, only to find that this technology could be an auto-translation tool. Now, 50 different languages can be instantly translated and captioned for people around the world to watch their YouTube videos.8

The innovation aimed at creating products for people with disabilities can quickly turn into huge profit. Take the VoiceOver technology for Apple’s iPod Shuffle, which allows the device to tell you what music you are enjoying. This feature started out as a way to make Macintosh’s electronic devices universally accessible so people of any ability or age could enjoy them. With VoiceOver, the iPod Shuffle’s sales were 51% higher than the previous generation’s initial sales. Similar software has led to the popularity of other global products, such as GPS voice command and hands-free dialling for certain brands of phones.9 Peter Mahoney of Nuance Dragon unit says that, “(people with disabilities) help us push the envelope when it comes to improving products for mass-market customers.”10

People with disabilities travel, they shop, they dine, and they access many different services. People with disabilities are diverse, not only in their lifestyles and their consumer preferences but also in their disabilities. Organizations need to be diverse in their inclusive practices if they want their services to be available to the whole community. Inclusion and innovation are integral to broadening your consumer base and diversifying your products and services, which gives you the competitive edge.


  1. Donovan, Rich, “Emerging giant – Big is not enough; The global economics of disability”, March, 2012
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  2. Participation and Activity Limitation Survey 2006: Tables (part V), Table 1.3 – Total income for adults 15 years of age or older, by disability status, Canada, provinces, 2001 and 2006 at:
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  4. BMO, “Count Me In” survey, conducted by Pollara, 2012
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  5. COMPAS survey for JOIN, 2008
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  6. “2012 Legacy for disabled people: Inclusive and accessible business – Improving messages to SME’s: The case for the disabled customer”, Department for Business Innovation and Skills, UK
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  7. Jana R. How High Tech for the Disabled is Going Mainstream. Business Week. September 24, 2009 at:
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  8. Jana R. How High Tech for the Disabled is Going Mainstream. Business Week. September 24, 2009 at:
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  9. Jana R. How High Tech for the Disabled is Going Mainstream. Business Week. September 24, 2009 at:
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  10. Jana R. How High Tech for the Disabled is Going Mainstream. Business Week. September 24, 2009 at:
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