February 12, 2019
Shopping can be stressful at the best of times, not least when you’re living with a disability. Though it’s been a long time coming, companies are now looking at the shopping experience through accessible eyes.
Marks & Spencer is leading the way on the high street with their ‘Easy Dressing’ range of children’s clothes. The collection offers fashion-forward outfits with slight design tweaks to make them more accessible.
From using extra soft fabric for wearers with sensory needs to hidden Velcro fastenings for quick and easy dressing, M&S has struck the balance between fashion and function. High-end designer Tommy Hilfiger has also recognised the need for fashion to be inclusive. His accessible collection, Tommy Adaptive, utilises hidden magnetic fastenings and adjustable trouser legs that can accommodate a prosthesis. Since its launch in early 2018, it’s become a hit with shoppers.
A Cup of Accessibility
It’s not just the world of fashion working to become more accessible. Across the pond, coffee chain Starbucks opened their first shop in Washington where all staff are fluent in sign language. The shop is inclusive to all customers, with or without hearing impairments and has been widely praised.
Writer Ellen Hammett enthused: “The accessible Starbucks is an example of diversity and inclusion done right, without it making people feel like they are being singled out for their disability – something that other brands need to pay careful attention to.”
While positive changes on the High Street are definitely being made, perhaps the biggest change has been seen on our television and computer screens.
For the past few years, brands have committed to making sure that all their customers, disabled or able-bodied, are represented.
Maltesers released a series of television adverts centred around moments that are universally awkward for everyone, using disabled actors. The advert has not only helped represent those with different disabilities but also helps challenge misconceptions and prejudices.
Michele Oliver, a representative for Maltesers, described the mission of the chocolate company’s adverts: “We’re aiming to help combat perceived stereotypes and celebrate our similarities.”
“We’re aiming to help combat perceived stereotypes and celebrate our similarities.”
Not So Different
One of the actresses in the Malteser adverts, Samantha Renke has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a brittle bone condition. She believes that while progress is being made, there’s still work to be done until there’s equal representation for everyone.
She argues: “Brands need to get away from this segregation. Disabled people aren’t so different!”
Brands across the globe are now finally realising this and we can look forward to even more progress to allow accessibility and representation for all.