4 Companies That Are Inclusive to People with Disabilities

March 18, 2020

To move into the future, marketers need to make the present moment one that not only speaks to the “now and next” but is a better environment for all. If everyone is included and able to be part of the larger conversation as an equal participant, then everyone can enjoy and work to the same opportunities.

However, this isn’t always the reality. Marketers need to help make this the case — which starts both from a product and packaging standpoint. For instance, the firm eSSENTIAL Accessibility reported that 1.3 billion people globally have a disability and that this group controls $2 trillion in income — which illustrates that this demographic not only has tremendous spending power that businesses can’t ignore.

To give an even bigger picture: As the largest minority group in the world, people with disabilities control over $1.2 trillion in spending. Nor is that the full measure of their financial influence: friends and family of People with Disabilities (PWD) control over $6.9 trillion in spending, according to Samsung Canada.

People with disabilities and differently-abled people deserve the same resources everyone has. To highlight how many large companies have worked to become more inclusive, we rounded up a few that have made strides within the past few years.

Samsung Canada

To help improve the user experience for people with impaired vision, hearing, dexterity, and other limitations, Samsung's mobile phones and tablets come equipped with technical solutions, such as Talk Back, Mono Audio, and Assistant Menu.

However, these advances don't address the most severe user limitations, creating a disparity in the People with Disabilities (PWD) market. To bridge this gap, Samsung Canada partnered with eSSENTIAL Accessibility to develop an innovative assistive technology application for Android devices with touch-replacement solutions designed to help people with physical disabilities browse the web, listen to music, watch videos, and communicate hands-free.

Samsung Canada was able to offer this technology at no cost to customers who needed it and reported that over 950 users installed it during the first phase of its launch. The company further reported that the app was well received by people living with the most pronounced disabilities, such as quadriplegia, and by occupational therapists working with individuals with disabilities.

By bringing this critical technology to market, Samsung Canada is empowering individuals with disabilities as customers and employees, thereby helping to unlock the power of the $8.1 trillion in annual disposable income commanded by them and their friends and family globally.

Wavio

Wavio developed a product called See Sound that can listen for a variety of sounds and distinguish between them with a high level of accuracy as a way to help the deaf and hard of hearing community. The product uses AI-powered machine learning to listen for common household sounds, such as glass breaking or a baby crying. Once detected, the technology sends a tailored smartphone notification to the user.

The goal was to give deaf and hard of hearing people the same access to sounds that everyone else has, renewing their sense of freedom and control in their home environments. Working with Google, Wavio leveraged a data set of over two million human-labeled 10-second sound clips.

The clips were manually analyzed, annotated, and organized into the Google Audio Set. Wavio's machine learning model was then trained with this data to achieve an incredibly high accuracy level when it came to identifying sounds.

Microsoft

Videogames let people experience community, connection, and a chance to enter new worlds and make new friends. But those with limited mobility have been routinely left out, as the videogame industry has ignored the challenges for gamers with disabilities who have limited mobility.

To combat this, many gamers with disabilities often have had to piece together homemade controllers or invest in custom controllers just to be able to play. To remedy this situation, Microsoft designed the first controller for gamers with limited mobility that enhances the gaming experience and empowers people of all bodies to compete in new ways.

Considering 33 million American gamers are living with disabilities, this affects a lot of people — and these people deserve to be included.

The brand promoted the product through a campaign that captured documentary-style content highlighting the impact that this type of technology can have on people's lives and edited together the real stories of these gamers' experiences with the product.

Microsoft launched its long-form campaign video on social media platforms the Thursday before the Super Bowl to build momentum and get the conversation going; then the 60-second commercial launched during the game. To help, Microsoft enlisted social media influencers, including celebrities and gamers with limited mobility, as well as real people living with disabilities to share their own perspectives. After the Super Bowl, the conversation grew with coverage on key morning shows and across major press outlets.

A&W Restaurants

Brian Cowart, Chief Development Officer at Disabled American Veterans (DAV), said, “If you’re being authentic in your storytelling, that’s what matters. Fundraising is storytelling. But you don’t want to convey stories that aren’t real or make them seem like something they’re not. Some veterans come back wounded with unseen injuries. But images of physical injuries resonate better for fundraising. It’s showing a balance of both types of trauma, because they’re both very real.”

To make these words a reality, DAV partnered with A&W Restaurants on August 6, 2019 for National Root Beer Float Day. Veterans could visit an A&W location and receive a free root beer float. Cowert stated DAV always strives to let its members know about partnerships and what’s being done for them because it creates a loyal customer base for partners. The event ultimately raised $250,000 in donations.

Source

"4 Companies That Are Inclusive to People with Disabilities," ANA, 2020.