The World Health Organization estimates that 15% of the world’s population — 1 billion people — experience some form of disability, and these numbers are expected to rise alongside an aging global population. When your customer support isn’t accessible to all, you’re missing a valuable opportunity to retain customers with disabilities, along with their friends, family and colleagues.
The sensitive nature of common customer support interactions creates an ever more pressing need to make accessibility a cornerstone of an inclusive support strategy. Reviewing bank statements, providing personally identifying information, and understanding lab results are just a few examples of private matters that all individuals should be able to handle privately — without a third party filtering your data.
Accessibility is Good Business
The business case for accessibility goes beyond it being “the right thing to do.” Accessibility creates better products, services, and experiences for all — not just for people with disabilities. Actually, many inventions that are common and widespread today was created to tackle accessibility barriers. Here are a few examples:
- Curb cuts were designed to improve wheelchair accessibility but make life easier for toddlers learning to walk, delivery people, and anyone pushing a stroller or carrying a rolling suitcase.
- The modern-day instant message was born from the SMS designed by Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen to help people who are hard of hearing communicate. Today it’s become the world’s de facto choice for communication.
- Color contrast and good UX help individuals with deteriorating vision navigate a webpage and also makes content more easily digestible.
Accessible customer support improves your company’s reach and usability to more than just the 1 billion individuals with disabilities — it reaches the billions more who don’t identify as disabled, have acquired a temporary disability, or people who see the challenges and frustrations of inaccessibility through a disabled family member, friend or colleague. These individuals’ global disposable income is estimated to be more than 8 trillion dollars.
With the prevalence of disability increasing alongside age, the number of individuals with disabilities is estimated to increase rapidly. According to the CDC, two in five adults aged 65 or older have a disability.
In a move towards highly technical products and 24/7 “accessible” services, at times we’ve removed the human element from support. At the end of the day, accessibility is ensuring the tools are there to provide a dignified and independent human experience for everyone. It's not just the right thing to do - it's also good business.