When I began writing about disability six years ago, it seemed the majority of disability-related media coverage and product design was centered around senior citizens. Representation has improved since then, but there is still a long way to go. The reality is that anyone can find themselves disabled at any time. People at all life stages require products and places to fit their needs. That’s the beauty of disability-inclusive design. It isn’t “just” for one group: Inclusive design can be used by and benefit all. And it can make sound business sense.

Here are three ways businesses can use disability-inclusive design to make meaningful changes in 2024 and beyond.

1. Increase accessibility-focused offerings within existing major retail sites 
In 2023, several major retailers introduced dedicated categories on their websites to assist customers in finding disability-inclusive products in one place.

The Adaptive at Walmart marketplace features disability-inclusive housewares, mobility aids, medical supplies, adaptive sports equipment, educational products and more. Target’s specialized storefront focuses on children’s items. The page has links to adaptive fashion, disability-related books, sensory furniture and toys, and more.

2. Focus on products that actually reach and benefit consumers
We’ve seen the scenario countless times: A company introduces a “game-changing,” innovative new product that promises to make an entire industry more inclusive for the disabled community. After a few months (or even weeks), we never hear of the miracle project again.

The reality is that these items are often never actually sold in stores. They remain prototypes or are manufactured in extremely limited quantities, and were created solely to generate publicity and awards.

Lego Braille Bricks are an exception to this rule. The toymaker first introduced the bricks in 2019. Each plastic block has raised studs corresponding with a letter or number in braille, a tactile language system designed to help visually impaired people. The bricks are made to be used in conjunction with all other Lego bricks and sets.

3. Couple disability-inclusive products with policies
What if, instead of devoting resources to garnering short-term buzz, a company focused on including more disabled creators and voices in every step of the creation process? When these long-term issues are addressed, and people with disabilities are represented across all levels of the organization, there is a greater opportunity to create accessible, inclusive products that make a real difference.

Read the full article about disability inclusive design by Megan Amrich at Triple Pundit.