What retailers need to understand about website inaccessibility and disabled consumers: Challenges and opportunities

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This research uniquely contributes to the marketing policy literature by illuminating the widespread yet seldom studied problem of online inaccessibility of retail websites affecting approximately 30 million disabled Americans. When a website is not designed to be navigated easily or is not compatible with assistive technology such as a screen-reader, these potential customers are not able to independently search for information and conduct transactions. Blind and low vision participants in an empirical study provide their opinions regarding accessibility policy issues and reveal that their frustrations with inaccessible retail websites may result, not only in avoidance of the retailer in its different sales channels but also in antifirm behaviors driven by negative attitudes toward perceived retailer accessibility/disability policy that spur feelings of online marketplace discrimination. Using two different evaluation tools, the top 100 retailers in the United States were evaluated on the accessibility of their websites over the past 4 years (2015–2018). Results show that most websites contain many design errors making navigation very difficult or even impossible for vision impaired consumers. The argument is made that online retailers who proactively address these inaccessibility issues on their websites may significantly increase their customer base and profitability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)854-889
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Consumer Affairs
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Economics, Econometrics and Finance
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • avoidance
  • disabled consumers
  • online accessibility


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