How inaccessible retail websites affect blind and low vision consumers: their perceptions and responses

Alex H. Cohen, Jorge E. Fresneda, Rolph E. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: This research seeks to fill a gap in the service and retailing marketplace experience literature as well as retailing practice by extending Attribution and Expectancy Disconfirmation Theories to the large and growing market of consumers with vision disabilities. It reveals how accessibility-related service failures with a retailer's website can lead to anti-firm reactions from blind and low vision consumers, including social media sharing, negative word-of-mouth (NWOM) and avoidance of the retailer's other sales channels even if they are accessible. Design/methodology/approach: Blind respondents were recruited from national blindness organizations to participate in this study using a within-subjects design to test reactions to accessibility-related propositions in two different scenarios involving varying degrees of effort. Findings: In both high- and low-effort conditions, an accessibility-related service failure leads to the anti-firm consequences of NWOM, social media sharing and avoidance of the retailer's sales channels. Additionally, blind and low vision consumers who also feel inaccessible websites are discriminatory develop stronger anti-firm attitudes toward the offending retailers. Further, we aver that the retailer's entire website including all its features, not just the homepage, should be made accessible to the growing market of vision-impaired consumers and thereby obtain substantial competitive advantages. Originality/value: This research pertains to the service failure and recovery nomological network. It extends the existing paradigm to include accessibility-related service failures experienced by consumers with disabilities into the specialized category of discrimination-based service failures in instances where service recovery is not easily achieved. Empirical investigations of these experiences have been rare, despite the frequency with which they occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-351
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Service Theory and Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 14 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Strategy and Management


  • Avoidance
  • Digital equity
  • Disabled
  • Online accessibility
  • Service failure


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