Nearly everybody encounters difficulties and challenges at one time or another. However, for differently-abled people, barriers can be more frequent. And these can have a significant impact on their day-to-day lives.
Today, there are over 1 billion people around the globe that live with special abilities. So, if you are a global brand - and not inclusive - maybe you are losing 1 billion customers!
Before going into the crux of how your business can turn into a ‘differently able(d) brand’ let’s understand certain ‘differences’ clearly.
Certain types of physical barriers faced by differently-abled consumers may also be a significant growth barrier for businesses. For instance, some companies may not understand that inadequate access to a place can prevent such customers from using their products or services. This may include the unavailability of a lift that accommodates wheelchairs. The presence of stairs in business premises may also be a disadvantage.
Communication barriers are faced by individuals who have challenges with writing, reading, speaking, hearing, or understanding. They use different means of communication compared to abled people. For example, written promotion messages with barriers limit individuals with impaired vision from receiving the message, such as the use of small print. Videos that lack captioning and oral communications without manual interpretation also lead to difficulties for the differently-abled.
Qualified persons with physical and mental challenges are denied reasonable accommodations. This snatches away their opportunities to make use of their special abilities to carry out the important tasks. They are also denied opportunities to participate or access benefits, services, and programs due to physical barriers.
As a result, differently-abled are more likely to be unemployed, compared to the rest of the population.
Every organization should strive to achieve inclusivity and equality in the workplace. Likewise, it is also important to consider easy access to services for specially-abled customers. A few compromises have to be embraced for both employees and consumers. For instance, adapting equipment and premises for persons with physical impairments. For workers with psychological challenges, conveying messages in different formats and allowing extra time for tasks may be necessary.
Ensuring an organization accommodates the special abilities within the workplace carries several benefits with it. Ensuring they feel appreciated will not only give an organization a positive image but will also:
Survival in the flooded business world calls for extra efforts. Being considerate about disabled customers lowers a brand’s competitive power. This is because a part of the potential customer base is locked out. Considering disabled customers in your marketing strategy translates to more sales.
The challenged people are an untapped candidate pool for businesses. Recruiting and retaining them is one approach to control the impacts of the aging and shrinking workforce. In addition, unlike the consumers a brand deals with on a daily basis, differently-abled workers can empathize with any specific needs that some prospects may have regarding a given service. For instance, a staff with hearing challenges may help customers struggling to communicate through sign language. This way, they can also bring their unique additional expertise to the organization.
Teams work in solidarity to achieve one set goal. Therefore, a much more inclusive business can improve productivity levels by using a wider variety of skills. Employees can learn from one another by using diverse experiences and strengths. Fresh ideas are developed and can help realize development.
Creativity is also a bigger factor in an inclusive work environment. Employees with different perspectives and viewpoints can understand issues differently, meaning that challenges can be solved faster and aid decision-making.
Having an inclusive workplace means your brand is most likely to attract more customers. Not just the general population. But if you are an inclusive brand, the entire 1 billion differently-abled population turns to you. As your brand emerges as a social performer, it eventually increases customer loyalty for a lifetime.
There are over one billion specially-abled people worldwide. Most of these individuals are cut off from full economic and social participation. Today's society understands the importance of creating an accessible world for persons living with challenges.
Many brands are striving to become more intentional in serving the population. Here are some of them that have adapted their business model to be more accessible in creative ways:
Nike's hands-free shoe is a step forward for inclusive clothing. Nike believes if you have a body, you're an athlete. It is an inclusive perspective from a brand closely linked with elite athletes at the very peak of their physical prowess. Nike appears to have stayed true to their statement with the introduction of the FlyEase shoe accessible to all.
This is a shoe without laces, which you can step into and out of without the need to use your hands. That's great news for individuals for whom tying shoelaces is an intractable problem. For persons living with different conditions such as hemiplegia, cerebral palsy, dyspraxia, and autism, tying shoelaces usually means asking for assistance from somebody else.
Starbucks established its first sign language store in Washington, USA, in October 2018, where all works are fluent in American Sign Language. From the services to the attire, the company is mindful of hearing the specially-abled customers.
Hard hearing workers wear an apron that spells out ‘Starbucks' in American sign language and wears a pin indicating that they can use sign language. For individuals open to learning American sign language, they can use digital devices to communicate with the store workers.
The British online fashion retailer has introduced a wheelchair-friendly, tie-dye waterproof jumpsuit. The jumpsuit is accessible to persons living with different abilities. It has a zip around the waist to easily get out of it. This feature also renders the jumpsuit versatile, where the top and bottom can be worn separately.
The cuffed ankles on it allow persons of any height to wear it. The waterproof pocket on the jumpsuit is an easy place to keep essential personal items such as medication pills or a mobile phone.
The equality act imposes a responsibility on employers to ensure that employees with special abilities can perform efficiently. If necessary, an employer must adopt reasonable adjustments to ensure their work does not limit specially-abled job applicants or workers.
There are various ways employers can reasonably adjust without costing a lot of money. Whatever might appear reasonable will depend, in part, on the size and nature of the business. Here are some of the ways:
Worldwide differently-abled marketing is wide. Reaching the challenged customers should be your company's top priority. Regardless of what industry you serve, there is always a small section of such prospects you tend to leave out. They are everywhere, and they form part of your target audience with or without your knowledge. You can reach, interact and serve them through the following:
This is the foremost and primary marketing technique. You need to make your website accessible to specially-abled users so that they can navigate efficiently. If your website does not load efficiently or has any accessibility problems, it will turn such visitors away.
Find the differently-abled local micro-influencers and collaborate with them. This is one of the best ways to interact with customers as well as potential clients. People tend to follow people that feel like them or share similar attributes.
Making connections with government institutions, NGOs, and specially-abled organizations helps you reach a huge customer-base faster. Arranging and attending relevant events and speaking to your target audience helps them remember you and your brand.
The perfect way to tap into any market is to make sure your target audience has a place in your workforce and supply chain. Be proactive in your training and hiring efforts and include specially-abled individuals. This will help your business by adding value and different perspectives.
Ensure your business is inclusive by partnering with differently-abled people in your advertising campaigns as spokespersons, actors, and models.
PulsAero is the new age creative agency moving ahead while breaking stereotypes, building flexible workspace, and serving with a solution-driven mindset.
In a workspace that is nurtured with transparency, flexibility, and non-hierarchal culture, we use cutting-edge technologies to solve every challenge. For efficient project management among team members, we use Notion. For effective communication, we use Slack. And to provide inclusive website solutions to brands of all scales, we tap into the enormous benefits of Webflow.
When it comes to branding, we help businesses realize their role in the differently-abled communities or any other group of the target audience for that matter. We use our ability to think, evaluate, analyze, and decide clearly about a given problem. How can a brand describe and build itself as ‘inclusive’? Is your business more focused on building relationships with customers? Are you inspired enough to help find and create solutions for the specially-abled population? Everything lies in the solution-driven approach.
As one of our greatest strengths that we use in branding, you can reach out to us to realize your brand personality and its potential in the new world that you haven’t entered — or perhaps expand yourself!
Be a part of the inclusive world and the world will be a part of your business growth :)