Dressing Fashionably is getting easier for those with Disabilities
Many companies are designing clothing to make life easier for those with disabilities
Author: Attorney Greg Reed
Most of us don’t think twice about what we’re going to wear each day. Being able to dress ourselves is something everyone wants to be able to do, but for people with disabilities choosing comfortable and functional clothes that are easy to put on can pose problems; for example, how to button a shirt or pull up a zipper with only the use of one hand, or finding shoes when your feet are two different sizes. Adaptive clothing is specifically designed for people who have difficulty dressing whether they are elderly, wheelchair users, or people with a medical condition that turns dressing into a struggle. Combining technology with fashion, adaptive clothing is apparel designed for people with a variety of disabilities that still has the outward appearance of typical clothing.
Different disabilities require different modifications in clothing to allow the wearer to function and dress independently.
Someone in a wheelchair may look for clothing with a longer neck-to-waist ratio so clothing doesn’t bunch up in back. They may also prefer longer length trousers because pants ride up when seated and skirts that are longer in front to cover the knees. Clothing should fit loosely around hips and thighs to provide more comfort, and jackets and tops should allow the wearer to move their arms freely. Multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy or paralysis may reduce an individual’s range of motion and impact their ability to move muscles and joints. People with these disorders need open-back clothing that allows clothing to be put on frontward and eliminates the need to bend or reach behind. A person who suffers with incontinence needs clothing that can be removed easily and accommodate aids discretely and comfortably. Anyone who has difficulty dressing can benefit from adaptive clothing.
If you have been denied disability don’t give up! Contact a Disability lawyer at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and get the benefits you deserve.
Some conditions which may interfere with or make dressing oneself difficult include:
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Cerebral Palsy
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Brain Injury
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Oedema (fluid retention)
- Vision Impairment
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
To meet this variety of needs, designers are responding by creating stylish clothes with the following features:
- Snaps or magnetic closures instead of regular buttons
- Specially designed zippers that that are easy to manage
- Pants, shirts, dresses and skirts that open at the side
- Shoes that allow the wearer to step in without forcing, fasten easily, and are anti-slip to avoid falls
- Shoes that allow for swelling, hammer toes, and bunions
- One-piece outfits
- Clothing that can be put on while sitting, standing or lying down
- Clothing that is easy to remove and can accommodate medical devices
- Open seams to accommodate prosthetics
- Flat seams to prevent rubbing.
Though we may think adaptive clothing only accommodates physical disabilities, adaptive clothing comes in different shapes and forms.
Some individuals, such as those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), are highly sensitive to any material that touches their skin and will react to certain textures and weights differently. There are several disabilities that can cause issues with the feel of different fabrics in addition to ASD, including sensory processing disorder and those involving chronic pain. For these children and adults, many sensations are overwhelming and any clothing they wear must be extremely soft and smooth.
Sensory-friendly clothing is designed for people with sensory sensitivities.
While each individual has their own preference as to what clothing is comfortable, common features of sensory-friendly clothing include:
- Soft fabric; itchy or heavy fabric can irritate the skin.
- Tagless clothing; tags can rub against the skin.
- Seamless or seams outside the garment instead of inside so they don’t rub.
- Loose or stretchy waistbands.
- Compression clothing; some children like clothing that fits tighter as it has a calming effect.
People who are blind or visually impaired face different challenges in dressing themselves, particularly in selecting and organizing clothes.
Most blind people will find someone they trust to help them shop for clothes, but businesses like Two Blind Brothers have made the process of choosing clothes less complicated by adding labels in Braille to clothing to describe color, size and product care. Also, some new technologies have been developed to identify colors. These are available as stand-alone devices or Smartphone apps; the user points the device to a piece of clothing and it verbally announces the color. While this technology is a significant development, it is not capable of distinguishing different shades of the same color and will need improvements before it’s considered reliable.
In the past, the fashion industry has frequently ignored the functionality of garments for people with disabilities, but that is finally changing.
Top name brands are gradually adding new lines of clothing to serve this often-ignored segment of the population, among them:
- Target Kids Adaptive Clothing
- Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive
- BILLY Footwear
- Adaptive Seven7
- Zappos Adaptive
- Aerie Slick Chicks Undergarments
- Kohl’s Adaptive
- JCPenney Adaptive
Adaptive apparel benefits the social and professional lives of people with disabilities, allowing children and adults with special needs to wear clothing they see others wearing and feel appropriately dressed at job interviews and participating in team sports and other community events. Clothes are an important form of self-expression for everyone and people with disabilities are no exception.
Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you are not able to work due to accident or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
Try these links for further reading on this subject:
When Should I apply for Social Security Disability?
It helps to have a supportive doctor when you file for disability
What Information will I need to apply for SSDI?
Author: Attorney Greg Reed has been practicing law for 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Reed obtained board certification from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Greg is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and the United States Court of Appeals-Fifth Circuit. Mr. Reed is a member of the Travis County Bar Association, Texas Trial Lawyers Association, past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association, and an Associate member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. Mr. Reed and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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