Emily Davidson is a 23 year old fashionista, YouTuber, photographer and blogger who’s aim is to empower young girls who have an interest in accessible fashion. What’s fantastic about Emily? She doesn’t let her visual impairment hold her back and campaigns that no one else should either! Emily was born with a rare condition called Septo Optic Dysplasia which means she’s registered severely sight impaired and has a wonderful guide dog, Unity. Emily has experienced the lack of accessibility in the fashion world when it comes to buying and wearing fashionable clothes. She’s put together a few ideas on changes that retailers could make to improve accessibility for disabled and visually impaired people.
Accessible Fashion Online
Many disabled people can’t make regular trips to the shops or it can be difficult to try on clothes out-with the comfort of their home. Having an online shop or app that they can access can be vital to some to allow them to buy new clothes. Emily suggests that apps and web pages should be screen reader optimised, from her experience having alternative text on images, describing them well, helps her a lot to paint a bigger picture of the garment she is looking at. If retailers were willing to go the extra mile an accessibility toggle on the app or web page would enable customers who need to change the features on the page such as contrast and text size.
“I’ve been refused access to stores because security or staff members don’t know the laws surrounding guide dogs when it comes to entering establishments.”
When customers can venture out, it’s important to make the in-store experience as good as it possibly can be for them. Retailers should think about the space between racks or shelves so there’s enough space for a wheelchair to pass through. Not leaving stock lying around seems obvious but happens regularly in many stores. Ensuring the music and lighting in the store isn’t too harsh helps those who have sensitive hearing and eyes.
Emily’s experienced first-hand retail staff not knowing the law when it comes to assistance dogs.
She explains: “I’ve been refused access to stores because security or staff members don’t know the laws surrounding guide dogs when it comes to entering establishments. This is an area that is of paramount importance”
Simple staff training would help out a lot to ensure they’re confident when it comes to helping someone who is hard of hearing or has sight issues.
The underlying theme that can be noticed when reading Emily’s blog is the representation of disabled people in the fashion world and retailers should show that they believe disability inclusion matters.