i3 | July 01, 2019

Engaging Diverse Populations in Design

Steve Ewell

With nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population reporting a disability, and that number expected to grow as the population becomes older, there is a significant market aimed at people looking for products to help them maintain their independence. Whether it’s software or hardware, engaging people with disabilities and people across the age spectrum allows for greater opportunities to draw in loyal customers for your products.

Engaging diverse populations provides a range of benefits to the overall design of products. People with disabilities and older adults are underrepresented and bring new ideas and viewpoints to the types of products that can serve these groups.

Accessible technology not only serves seniors and people with disabilities, but also the general public. We can experience a temporary disability — whether it stems from a simple broken bone or an illness — at any time in our lives. Statistically, as we all age, we are likely to experience some type of physical and mental deterioration in vision, hearing, mobility, or cognition. It’s important to realize these issues affect everyone, not just the highlighted groups.

Our report, Active Aging: Consumer Perceptions and Attitudes, shows the U.S. market for solutions provided by smart, connected devices is expected to grow from $9 billion in 2018 to nearly $30 billion in 2022. The largest segment of this market will be safety and smart living technologies, which will triple in size during that time. AARP research finds the spending of 50-plus year old Americans amounts to $5.6 trillion and supports nearly 90 million jobs. The American Institutes for Research finds that after-tax disposable income for working age people with disabilities is about $490 billion.

This data and our consumer report show there is a viable market for consumer technologies focused on these two demographics. In our meetings at CES and throughout the year we have found great interest by both companies and organizations working with the disability and aging communities to engage.

If you are interested in connecting with these communities to help design or test your products, contact me at sewell@CTAFoundation.tech or 703-907-7660. We can help connect you with groups that can assist. To work with the Foundation and other industry leaders, visit CTAFoundation.tech.

Support the CTA Foundation:

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