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UK: Designing for disability: the businesses breaking down barriers

Thu, 18 May 2017, 11:29 AM

Alison Coleman, The Guardian UK, 5 May 2017
People with disabilities represent a vast market that is often overlooked and largely untapped.
Globally there are 1.3bn people with disabilities, representing a market the size of China, and in the UK the spending power of disabled people and their households, known as the purple pound, is worth £249bn.
It is a market ripe with opportunities for innovative companies, including small businesses, many of which are founded by those closest to the market, people affected by disabilities, who create their own solution to the daily challenges they face.
Marianne Waite, founder of non-profit collective Think Designable, believes that these small firms, built on real-life experience, have an advantage over large companies. “They are created as barrier free as possible,” she says. “Large organisations often need to change old systems to remove the barriers for people with disabilities. Small new entrants to the market are able to be agile from the word go.”
Sebastien Archambeaud spent a lot of time travelling with his family until his son was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. He says: “Suddenly we had to take new factors into account when booking accommodation, and became frustrated at how difficult it was to find good places at a decent price and with the required accessibility, not because it wasn’t there, but because no one was gathering that information and making it available on a single global platform.”
That frustration drove Archambeaud to devise a solution of his own. With a background in international business and technology, in 2015 he created Handiscover, a booking website with a focus on accessibility.
“I used my own money, and did a crowdfunding round with Crowdcube to finance the technology, which also helped us to build a network of angel investors,” he says. Having tested the market in the UK and Sweden last year Handiscover, which has more than 2,000 active users, will expand further into Europe this year.
Read: the full article here

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