Opinion: Clodoaldo Silva – Clodoaldo: Consumers with disabilities are still forgotten by the market

Have you ever stopped to think about the difficulties that people with disabilities have to make a purchase, whether online or in physical stores. As I have discussed here in the column that we are citizens like any other, since we are married, have a family and work, among other things. Believe us: we have enormous potential as consumers.

But, after all, why are people with disabilities forgotten when it comes to shopping? Data from the 2010 Census show that Brazil has about 45 million people with disabilities (¼ of the population), 12 million of which are severely or totally disabled — an important portion of the population with purchasing power.

Persons with disabilities increase their consumption power from the moment they gain rights such as coming and going or occupying a position in the labor market, for example. How to go somewhere without using a car or public transport? How to work without having necessary adaptations on the computer or in the room you work in? How to make a purchase over the internet without the sales site being accessible so that the disabled person has full autonomy to exercise their purchasing power? How can a person with a disability enter a store without the place being accessible for him to exercise his right to be a consumer? How can a blind person make a purchase on the internet without the products having their description? There are so many barriers!

cadeirante - picture alliance/dpa/picture alliance via Getty I - picture alliance/dpa/picture alliance via Getty I

Not all commercial establishments offer accessibility for wheelchair users and people with disabilities

Imagem: picture alliance/dpa/picture alliance via Getty I

People with disabilities represent 15% of the world’s population. A survey of Accenture, demonstrates that around the world they have a disposable income of US$ 8 trillion. As such, the amount of money they can spend on a daily basis is significant. In the United States alone, the value reaches half a trillion dollars and in Brazil, according to the IBGE, US$ 5.3 billion (R$ 27.8 billion at the current exchange rate).

However, even with these expressive numbers, the purchasing power of consumers with disabilities is still underestimated and many companies ignore this portion of the population. As I said above, we still have many barriers when any purchase is at stake. We are also far from evolving in important issues such as: the market’s vision of producing exclusive products for this audience, the accessibility of this layer of society for purchases, and even the representation of this audience in advertisements.

We have huge gaps. Do not you think? I remembered now the emblematic case of the lawsuit that was brought in the US against Domino’s Pizza by Guilhermo Robles, a blind man, who claimed that both the portal and the pizza network application did not work like the common screen reading software that he uses it for other websites. In 2019, the US Supreme Court denied the company’s petition that it wanted to prove that its sites did not need to be accessible for people with visual impairments.

The decision was a victory for accessibility advocates, who argued that the lack of accessibility on websites would be excluding people with disabilities from substantial parts of the economy. The Brazilian Inclusion Law makes it mandatory to provide access to websites maintained by companies with headquarters or commercial representation in the country or by government agencies, however, the situation has not been resolved to date. If there’s a law, it’s worth action, isn’t it?

In search of solutions for this audience, I met this week an initiative developed by Talent Include, diversity and inclusion consultancy in Brazil, which launched the UinHub, a digital platform for people with disabilities, with the objective of connecting these consumers and entrepreneurs who have businesses related to this audience. The environment brings together products, services and content on accessibility, health, culture, education, employability, sport, leisure, mobility, clothing, entertainment, rights, support networks, among others. Cool huh? Worth knowing!

I’m looking into any kind of exclusion. It’s not nice not to be remembered at the time of purchase. It is always good to highlight that we are citizens, we pay our bills, we buy clothes, transport tickets or cars, we access the internet, we date, people! We are consumers, even though it doesn’t seem like it.

Great Thursday weekend for everyone and water hugs!

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