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Frontiers in Multicultural Marketing: The Disabilities Market - page 9 / 17

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surf the web. Books have evolved from analog representation – i.e., where a real human being reads the book – to a digital format.  Digital talking books (DTB) offer many advantages over the analog media which are linear presentations from first to last page.  DTBs allow readers to skip around the way people read articles in a journal or magazine.  They also allow highlighting and enable the reader to check footnotes and references selectively.  There are scanners and machines made for the visually impaired that read printed material; simply place the document or book on it and it will read it.  

Marketing to Individuals with Hearing Impairments

According to the National Center for Health Statistics (2006), 32.5 million adults (15% of adults) have hearing problems.  There is great demand for, e.g., cell phone and land phone AT products for the hearing impaired.  There are alarm clocks that shake the bed and also have an adjustable volume control that makes a very loud sound. Closed-captioned television allows the deaf to watch and enjoy television.  Doorbells are a problem for the deaf and there are various door sensors that use lights as well as sounds when someone presses the bell.  The same problem exists with smoke detectors; light is essential in addition to sound for the hard of hearing or deaf.  The Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT) National Technical Institute for the Deaf is targeted to the hearing impaired who are interested in learning IT and is among the top technical schools in the United States.   Being deaf is not much of a disadvantage in IT since most communication is via e-mail.

There is a growing market for talking ATMs (using earphones, for security).  Fleet bank spokesman, Steven Lubetkin, said:  “There are approximately 54  million Americans with disabilities...  Web sites that shut out people with disabilities are tuning out a huge part of the consumer market, the people who could benefit from online services the most” (Stravelli, 2004).  There are a number of disabled employees working in Fleet’s Diversity Resource Group.  They help the company make better products that are accessible to the disabled.  They also help Fleet find and retain employees with disabilities.  Fleet ensures that its telephone banking is accessible to those who are hearing impaired by offering a TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) line.  

Marketing to Individuals with Speech Impairments

Among children under the age of 18, 4.7% of gilrs and 7.5% of boys have speech impairments ( Jans and Stoddard, 1999).  There are numerous possible causes of speech impairment.  They include:  injuries to the brain, brain tumors, mental retardation, cleft lip or palate, Parkinson’s disease, hearing impairments, stroke, MS, psychological problems, Down’s syndrome, throat cancer, and laryngectomy.  Speech computers are basically computers with special software to help individuals with speech impairments communicate.  Some people with speech impairments simply use a laptop computer as a communication device.  

Marketing to Individuals with Mental Illness and Mental Retardation

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