SOURCE: American Association of People With Disabilities

May 23, 2006 08:00 ET

First-Ever AAPD Survey Reveals Growing Economic, Political Clout of People With Disabilities

Results From American Association of People With Disabilities Survey Give Inside Look at Members' Income, Purchasing Choices, Technology Usage, and Political Participation

WASHINGTON, DC -- (MARKET WIRE) -- May 23, 2006 --A first-ever national survey of members of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the largest cross-disability membership organization in the United States, gives an unprecedented, inside look at members' purchasing choices, technology usage, and political participation. Results of the survey, which was conducted to learn about the demographics of AAPD members, to understand how the members felt about the organization's offerings, and to gauge how they use available computer technology, revealed a level of economic and political influence that was previously unknown.

The findings provided proof for the belief that AAPD members are influential across many areas of life. Collectively, approximately 75 percent of AAPD members surveyed have a source of income, own a computer, have access to the Internet, are registered to vote, and make their purchasing decisions based on companies that have demonstrated support for people with disabilities.

"It is our mission to ensure economic self-sufficiency and political empowerment for the more than 50 million Americans with disabilities," said Andrew J. Imparato, AAPD President and CEO. "To accomplish that mission we have to understand who these Americans are, what they need, and how they live their lives. This survey supports the notion that this is a substantial consumer group with significant economic and political influence."

Survey Says… Broad-Based Clout

In terms of consuming habits, the survey showed that when it comes to purchasing decisions and whether consideration is given to companies that demonstrate support for people with disabilities, over 70 percent of AAPD members living with disabilities said they purchase for that very reason. Income related findings were also revealing.

When asked about the individual source of income, 76 percent of the respondents have a source of income, which includes both full- and part-time employment. 14 percent of AAPD members are retired.

Today more than ever before, AAPD members living with disabilities are looking to technology that will streamline and simplify their work/life balance. The AAPD survey indicated that 81 percent of respondents own a computer, while 82 percent also have access to the Internet. 79 percent of respondents said they use email regularly. With the available income that this market has and the increased use of Internet among this group, it is important to recognize the significance of e-commerce, online shopping and online marketing to the members of AAPD.

When asked what assistive technology they are using, 45 percent of those surveyed said they are using physical computer accessories to assist them in their daily lives. Specific software mentioned included: drag and speak software reader-dictator software and magnification software.

Lastly, the survey explored the political participation of the members, though not delving into political party association or specific candidate preferences. 78 percent of AAPD members are registered to vote, of which 89 percent voted within the last two years. 81 percent said that when casting their votes, they were influenced by whether a candidate supported issues pertaining to disabilities.

"We believe the findings of this survey represent a major step toward bringing increased attention and consideration to people with disabilities that had coalesced to support and voice common issues and needs," added Imparato. "We thank IBM for its grant that made this survey possible, and a successful, revealing project. As an industry leader in outreach to the disability community, IBM is also universally known as a company that pioneers innovative technologies and consistently develops ways to solve technology issues across all walks of life."

About the Survey

Public Opinion Research, Inc. worked with AAPD to design a sample of members. From a membership file of 23,217 names, 400 interviews were conducted by phone from August to October 2005.

The sample for the survey was taken from six different regions: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest, South Central and West.

66 percent of the members who were surveyed were members with disabilities; 34 percent were family members or friends of persons with disabilities, or caregivers of persons with disabilities. The status of the membership was broken down into the following categories: years of membership, age, marital status, level of education, and race/ethnic origin.

The results presented in this survey were subject to normal sampling error, which ranges from approximately 5 percent overall to 7 to 10 percent within the various subgroups.

About AAPD

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is the largest nonprofit cross-disability membership organization in the United States. AAPD is dedicated to ensuring economic self-sufficiency and political empowerment for the more than 50 million Americans with disabilities. AAPD works in coalition with other disability organizations for the full implementation and enforcement of disability nondiscrimination laws, particularly the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. www.aapd-dc.org

About IBM

IBM is taking the lead in making IT accessible to more people, including those with disabilities and the aging. Through its innovative, end-to-end approach to accessibility, IBM is helping people benefit from computing and access to information. Accessible and easy to use applications and business services can benefit citizens and employees with temporary or chronic disabilities or those adjusting to characteristics associated with aging.

Technologies such as voice recognition, wireless communications and speech output improve the ability to access information for those who have disabilities and are also increasingly in demand by today's society seeking convenience and ease of use. Accessibility is a business transformation effort for IBM and their clients, a journey leading to a societal transformation that will enhance the overall workplace environment and contribute to the productivity of all employees. For more information on IBM's Human Ability and Accessibility Center, go to www.ibm.com/able.

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