Kaufman-Scarborough summarized almost 20 years of her own research on disabled consumers during a presentation titled "Social Exclusion: A Perspective on Consumers with Disabilities."
"Many of the problems these shoppers face are unintended," she says. "Store design choices can seem like good practice, but in reality, there are problems with aisle width and display height. Overcrowding reduces access, comfort, and mobility."
Online retail has become more popular and it encourages consumers to escape the crowded stores by shopping from home. However, it isn't without hurdles, either. Kaufman-Scarborough says computer screens can be difficult to read for the vision impaired, who also have difficulty typing in information for a CAPTCHA, the test websites use to distinguish between human and automated users.
She says that the Americans with Disabilities Act has been successful in curbing many of these problems and stores are being designed with accessibility for disabled customers, while websites with CAPTCHAs allow users to hear the letters required to type for site access.
"In today's world, you see more deliberate design of retail space," she says. "The ramps are there, the doors are wider and aren't as heavy, and Braille is included on signs. This has become the norm. We're working toward finding more solutions to help vulnerable, disabled consumers, and I think there's more that can be done in the way of employee assistance or store hours for customers with disabilities."
Kaufman-Scarborough's research will be published in a forthcoming book based on the work presented at the Vulnerable Consumers Seminar Series. A Cherry Hill resident, the RutgersCamden scholar has published various research articles on vulnerable consumers, consumer homelessness, disability studies, macromarketing, public policy, and consumer
|Contact: Mike Sepanic|