Thursday, June 16, 2016

Adaptive clothing for the disabled

Even though clothes are a multi-billion dollar biz, options for disabled people are limited.

Researchers at the University of Missouri though the lack of practical and stylish fashions might marginalize disabled people further.

They found the problem to be multi-dimensional--need for better design, production, distribution, and sale.

Clothing and appearance are not trivial, according to the lead investigator and assistant professor of health sciences Allison Kabel.

Clothes govern how we interact with all aspects of our communities, she explains. This includes job interviews, court appearances, team sports, formal events, and more.

Not having the proper adaptive clothing shuts the disabled out of these areas.

Kabel and Kerrie McBee-Black, instructor of textile and apparel management, analyzed focus group info and found barriers for the disabled in function, culture, and sensory sensitivity.

The mechanical--or functional--barriers started with getting dressed, where zippers, buttons, laces, and fabric textures challenge those who live on their own. One person with Down's syndrome had to fasten her clothes with safety pins--they did not come in her size.

I have also written about the need for clothes that fasten in the back for people in wheelchairs.

A cultural barrier was described when a woman was taking care of a man from South Asia with nerve damage in his feet could not help him with his socks and shoes due to a taboo on touching feet.

Custom-made clothes for all would not be financially doable--so that leaves mass production. How about it, manufacturers? You finally came around to making more cute and stylish clothes in larger sizes--is this the next frontier?

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