Vineet Mehra

Simon Dermer

Simon Dermer

Spiro Papathanasakis

Spiro Papathanasakis


Purposeful Marketing


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Trendsetters: Simon Dermer & Spiro Papathanasakis Discuss Building Purpose-Driven, Disability-Friendly Customer Experiences

How does a marketer enhance the customer experience for people with disabilities? Simon Dermer and Spiro Papathanasakis, co-founders of eSSENTIAL Accessibility, believe marketers have much to gain from inclusive digital marketing that underscores the benefits of a truly purpose-driven organization.

According to Dermer, "There are over 63 million people with disabilities living in North America. That's more than the entire population of California and Florida combined. As the continent's largest minority group, people with disabilities control over $200 billion in spending, yet this segment is mostly disregarded by marketers."  

He also points out that today's consumers with disabilities fully participate in society. They are employers and employees, homeowners and car owners, spouses and parents, students and retirees.  In other words, they are working, commuting, banking, shopping, vacationing, attending school, paying their bills and accessing a complete range of services from companies and brands.

"If one looks beyond this core market," he adds, "people with disabilities have family and friends, all of whom may be influenced by disability-related concerns in their spending decisions. Together, this adds up to a full 53% of the global consumer marketplace."

Through an approach to web accessibility that goes beyond the traditional framework of digital accessibility compliance, eSSENTIAL Accessibility created a comprehensive solution that integrates an assistive technology app with digital accessibility evaluation and remediation services.  It enhances the digital customer experience by enabling individuals with disabilities to effortlessly make purchases or conduct transactions at anytime and anywhere, while navigating a website as part of their purchase journey.

eSSENTIAL Accessibility regularly evaluates a brand's digital assets to ensure that there are no gaps in the customer experience and it is accessible to assistive technology like screen readers, braille and braille embossers, or assistive listening devices that allow customers to better engage with a website. By also providing an assistive technology application, brands make their digital properties welcoming to a wider group of people.

In fact, it is estimated that only 5% of the largest North American companies are making measurable efforts to connect with consumers with disabilities. "Disability" is characterized broadly in a digitally-dependent world.  It includes individuals who have difficulty typing, moving a mouse, reading a screen or using a touch-screen smartphone due to a variety of conditions—from temporary injuries and age-related issues to challenges ranging from dyslexia, arthritis, learning disabilities, and hearing or vision loss to the effects of stroke, paralysis, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and Parkinson's disease.

The companies that do make efforts to engage with people with disabilities are outperforming their competitors in long-term stock prices. In an era where the customer is king, marketers cannot afford to sideline anyone. On the contrary, marketers should be making every effort to ensure that their customers with disabilities are getting a high standard of service.

eSSENTIAL Accessibility works with some of the top brands in North America. Mastercard, Merck, Marriott and Macy's, among others, feature an assistive technology app on their website for customers who need the technology to engage with the brand. The app provides keyboard, mouse and touch replacement tools, so that motion technology and voice-activated controls can help these individuals make purchases or conduct transactions anytime, anywhere, navigate a website as part of their buying journey, and have a consistent experience with a brand across multiple devices.

Marketers who invest in their customers with disabilities will reap the rewards. They'll enjoy brand loyalty and repeat business from the largest minority group in the world.  And, most importantly, the individuals who need such services will significantly benefit.