Firms miss out on $13trn as half of disabled consumers face barriers to buying

Global business ‘remains inconsistent’ in meeting access needs

Person with disability working home office in wheelchair using computer


Laura Miller

More than 50% of disabled consumers have encountered barriers to content, products, and physical and online retail services, according to research by The Valuable 500, the world’s biggest CEO collective.

The results, which were gathered from insights from over 1,000 disabled consumers and thought leaders in 15 countries across six continents, also found only 2% of disabled consumers feel their lived experiences are consistently and accurately represented by brands.

According to the report, $13trn in annual disability spending power is being overlooked as a result, while 54% of disabled consumers are more likely to purchase from companies that adopt disability-inclusive values and represent disability authentically.

The Valuable 500 white paper, Nothing about us without us: the path to sustained progress and accountability in inclusive disability representation, was launched during a press conference at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. 

The report’s authors are calling on companies to join The Valuable 500 in developing a shared, global standard and set of practices on disability inclusion that can be applied across a wide range of organisations and industries.

Companies lack vision

It asserts people with disabilities continue to be underrepresented and inauthentically portrayed across mainstream media, marketing communication, and the global marketplace.

Global business “remains inconsistent” in meeting access needs and accurately including disability in their communications and outputs, according to the whitepaper. 

In many cases, companies “lack the confidence, competence, and strategic vision” to systematically embed disability inclusion and accessibility as core business processes, it added.

“We know that creating disability-inclusive and accessible places, products, and communications drives greater social inclusion and access to untapped markets,” the report said.


The global survey of disabled consumers found overwhelming demand for more inclusion and accessibility, with over 90% agreeing brands should ensure communications are accessible and reflect disability accurately.

Accessibility barriers persist, with over half (56%) of respondents regularly encountering inaccessible communications across news, TV/film, ads, and other media.

At the same time, accurate disability representation is rare. Just 10% felt their own disabilities were portrayed appropriately, with general disability depictions only marginally better at 12%.

Three quarters (76%) of those polled said casting actors with disabilities, and 78% said presenting authentic narratives, are vital for getting representation right.

The publication serves as a launchpad for the organisation’s third and final Synchronised Collective Action (SCA) on Representation, following previous actions on Reporting and Leadership. 

Together, the SCAs provide a framework for companies to address the main barriers to disability inclusion in the business landscape. In December 2025, Valuable 500 companies will be invited to report on their progress at the SYNC25 Accountability Summit in Tokyo.  

Katy Talikowska, Valuable 500 CEO, said: “Our white paper provides clear guidance for businesses to evolve representations, empower disabled talent, and make accessibility non-negotiable from the outset. 

“We urge companies to answer this timely call to action so disabled individuals are no longer left behind in the marketplace, on screen, in the studio, in the boardroom, or at the design table.”

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