A woman sitting in a motorized wheelchair is looking down into her empty wallet. Around her are various advertisements for accessibility items that are expensive and in low supply. Ad, shopping, money, cash, stress, finances, computer mouse, utensils, shovel

Disability Costs Too Much

I often get told how I should be grateful because the government pays for my spinal muscular atrophy treatments, or my durable medical equipment and I shouldn’t want for more.

I am grateful, but...

Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for my life and the things I am able to have access to, no matter how I access them, and I am extremely happy that I get help with paying for my caregiver and my homecare needs and medication. However, I don’t think people who have not dealt with living with a disability understand the cost of disability.

Supply and demand

If supply and demand are what drives an economy, then the demand for disabled products pales in comparison to the demand for things able-bodied individuals use and spend money on, after all, only about a quarter of the population is disabled. Because of that, many companies would rather shy away from making products that are catered to such a small group of people because there just isn’t enough money in it. To make ends meet, companies that do focus on the disabled have to sell things for a higher price to make a profit because they just cannot sell as many units to the disabled community. 

So as disabled people, we are left paying premiums for small batch products that are catered to our specific needs and even then, we are usually happy to even have access to products because sometimes the things we need are rare or don’t exist yet.

Necessary products are rare and hard to find

I pay a premium for my left-handed gaming mouse that goes out of stock often and has a threat of going out of production because the gaming peripheral company cannot make a profit on the design. I use the mouse for more than gaming because it has so many key bindings. I am able to use it for production software to use every function of my computer with my left hand since my right-hand fingers are mostly useless. 

I am grateful for the opportunity to have this mouse and pay a premium for the privilege of using it, and yet I am always anxious when the dreadful day comes that the company buckles down and decides that not turning enough profit on left-handed mice means it’s time to end production fully. 

Increased costs to purchase and maintain

My van costs more to repair because of the custom parts on it and don’t get me started on how accessible vehicles often cost twice or more of what regular vehicles would cost because we must have it custom made for our transportation needs.

Being disabled is not cheap and there is nothing easy about living a life that requires research on what is accessible or not before purchase. If insurance or the government or non-profits see fit to help ease some of the burden of what it costs to be disabled, then those programs should be appreciated, supported, and expanded.  Disability should not cost so much.

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