Adaptive clothing for people that are blind often makes individuals that are experiencing a vision impairment feel more self-sufficient and independent.
Keep reading to find out more about the issues that visually impaired people face when it comes to choosing clothing and ideas for adaptive clothing that are aimed at making the task of getting dressed a lot easier.
What Is Adaptive Clothing?
Adaptive clothing for disabled adults is clothes that are created specifically for individuals with disabilities. This includes physical disabilities such as blindness or invisible disabilities like chronic illnesses.
The main goal that surrounds adaptive clothing is to make it easier for a disabled person to get dressed.
What Challenges Do The Blind Have When Getting Dressed?
For a person that can see with normal vision, it can be hard to think about the type of issues that a blind person faces when choosing their wardrobe or even getting dressed. The main challenges that they face are seeing colors and to mix and match their outfits since they cannot see.
What Types Of Adaptive Clothing Are Available For The Blind?
Adaptive clothing for visually impaired or blind people includes:
Button Hooks for Buttons and Zippers or Easy Pull-Up Tabs
Zippers are hard to open or close when you are not able to see your zipper fastener. Zipper tabs come with round, large loops on one end so that it becomes easy to insert a finger and then to either pull the tab down or up.
This is one of the smaller innovations that makes it much easier for individuals that can no longer see. Button hooks also make it easier to unbutton and button clothes.
Replacing Shoelaces with Velcro Straps
Shoelaces are not easy to tie, especially when a person cannot see them. Velcro straps offer a convenient and easy method to secure your shoes without having to mess around with finicky laces.
Velcro straps can also be useful as fasteners for pants, shirts, and dresses since they are easier to use when compared to traditional zippers and buttons.
Replace Buttons with Magnetic Fasteners
Like Velcro straps, magnetic fasteners can be a lifesaver when compared to traditional zippers and buttons. These fasteners automatically close when bringing one side of a button close to the other side.
Another benefit that magnetic fasteners offer is their small size and that they can appear like a traditional button, which is not possible with Velcro straps. This can make a dress appear normal, and this can be something that is appreciated by a blind person.
How Can Adaptive Clothing Help The Blind Get Dressed More Easily?
Over the last few years, a few major fashion brands and young entrepreneurs have started adapting their products to match what blind people need.
Innovative and new solutions have started to crop up, and the latest adaptive clothing dedicated to the blind has become a fast-growing industry.
Below are a few of the ideas which have arisen from these processes:
Different ways are now available to not only indicate colors but also the information on the tag on how to care for the garment.
Some of these include tacks, pallettes, or embroideries that have been made from beads that spell out information on a garment’s surface, making the item look appealing and providing information that is important to the person wearing the garment.
Braille tags are also a development that attaches to the tag of the garment to convey all the necessary information to a blind person.
Knowing The Outside And Inside Of A Garment
Seams are specially designed so that one side is frayed. This can help a blind person identify which is the inside and which is the outside of the garment.
A Pocket To Keep A Walking Stick
When a visually impaired person visits unknown places, a common problem that they often experience is to make sure their walking cane is in a spot where they can find it again. Keeping it on them inside their clothes is the best way to keep their walking stick safe.
A 23-cm especially designed pocket can be useful to hold a stick or walking cane when the person wants to relax or sit down without the worry of losing their walking stick.
Softer Textures For Tactile Senses That Are More Refined
Blind people often develop other senses, which are more refined when compared to people that have all 5 senses. This can mean that they need clothing that matches up to these finer sensibilities.
However, touch is also the main way a blind person distinguishes between clothing items since they are unable to see texture or color.
There are now fabrics and shirts that have been adapted to these sensibilities and special needs of blind people by creating a special blend of spandex and cotton with bamboo. These are more appealing and finer clothes when it comes to touch when compared to regular clothing items.
Sensor-Enabled Shoes To Assist The Blind In Walking
Another recent development and extremely useful technology when it comes to the visually impaired are walking shoes that help with walking, which is something called “Lechal.”
These shoes feature an embedded GPS chip that will vibrate to the right or the left, depending on what direction the wearer should be turning. It also features Bluetooth functionality that detects obstacles and alarms the wearer before they bump into them.
Since these shoes work on Bluetooth technology, it doesn’t require an internet connection that constantly works, unlike a host of other devices.
Where Can You Buy Adaptive Clothing For The Blind?
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Ovidis is a specialty manufacturer of clothing for people with physical or cognitive difficulties. They offer unique and innovative designs for easy and stress-free dressing by older adults, the disabled, or their caregivers.
Zappos offers much more than adaptive shoes. They offer many adaptive clothing items as well from many of the popular adaptive clothing brands. Plus, they have an Advisory Council that reviews and selects the items they choose to sell.
Dignity Pajamas has created a nice niche in adaptive sleepwear for men and women. They offer many styles of sleep shirts, pajamas, and gowns with open backs and velcro closures.
Being one of the world’s largest retailers, Amazon offers a wide selection of adaptive clothing from many of the most popular manufacturers. Another benefit to purchasing from Amazon is their easy to navigate website and generous return policies.
Etsy is a great place to find one-of-a-kind adaptive clothing pieces that aren’t mass-marketed. Some Etsy sellers even offer custom-made items for special situations or will make special sizes for larger or smaller people.
JCPenney offers a decent selection of adaptive clothing made by standard clothing manufacturers like St. John’s Ba, a.n.a., and Worthington. Plus sizes are available too.
You can also find adaptive clothing through brands dedicated specifically to the craft. A few examples include:
Perhaps a surprising addition to the list is well-known fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger who has a line of adaptive clothing for both adults and children. His shop is a great choice for the more fashion-forward person.
This company focuses on creating stylish denim jeans that use adaptive technology like Velcro or elastic waistbands. Several of their styles are even wheelchair-friendly!
Tips to Make Getting Dressed Easier For The Blind
Dressing independently is one of those important skills for just about every person, including those that are visually impaired or blind.
When it comes to dressing, there are gadgets that a blind person can use to make the process easier and more convenient. One of these is known as a color detector. There are also apps on smartphones that can be used to tell a blind person about the colors of a clothing item.
The color detectors usually include a button that causes the photo-receptor to gauge the color. A voice synthesizer will then tell the wearer what the color is. It can also usually tell whether a material is plain, patterned, or a check pattern.
For check patterns, the device will first indicate the main colors and then the other colors present in the pattern.
There is also an app on Smartphones known as “Be My Eyes.” This is an app that connects the user to someone real (these are volunteers). The blind person then shows the volunteer what they need to be identified using the camera on their phone.
Blind people can use this app to choose an outfit from their wardrobe or when they go shopping for new clothes.
What Are The Clothing Choices For Visually Impaired And Blind People?
Over recent years, many advancements have come about that make sure that all individuals, regardless of their disability, now have access to good quality clothing.
There are also many products on the market that assist the visually impaired or the blind to identify clothing items in their closets.
There are also various apps available on Smartphones that can be used for identifying colors. However, today the visually impaired and blind people can now identify clothing items before getting into their closets.
Two Blind Brothers is one of the non-profit companies that designs clothing that is identified from their labels, while the “braille color word” can be found on the actual clothing item.
The fabrics used to make these shirts also provide a softer feel when compared to normal shirts. The proceeds from every product that is sold directly go towards research to help combat blindness.
Some individuals have also made a difference. For example, Maria Sol Unga, one of the designers from Buenos Aires, designs clothing items that come with braille tags and braille descriptions that are sewn into each item.
To assist shoppers when it comes to choosing clothing items, she provides braille diagrams that provide an outline of the clothing item. The tag also includes information or descriptions of the color and fabric.
Maria also designs a few specifics for items of clothing, such as a walking stick pocket for pants or a shirt.
A new company type has recently emerged that makes clothing on the markets much more accessible to wear and buy. The shopping experience will begin on accessible websites such as White Cane Label.
From here, the shopper is asked about their clothing preferences, which is followed up by suggestions. Once the products have been purchased, the company adds Braille cards and labels that include care and washing instructions.
How Can I Adapt Existing Clothing To Be Easier To Use For The Blind?
One of the easiest ways to adapt existing clothing items for the blind is to use specialty-labeling products. Some of these include:
Brailler Clothing Identifiers
These include washable and plastic tags that come with braille. These can be pinned onto or sewn into a garment. Each of these labels contains only 2 to 3 braille letters that are easy to recognize using touch without the need to know the whole braille system.
Color Mates Clothing Identifiers
These come in packages of 160 tags, with 16 different color shapes attached to safety pins. These can be used to mix and match items in a closet.
Identi-Button Clothing Identifiers
These come in packages that contain 8 buttons. Each button is a different color and a different shape.
Spot ‘n Line Pen
These pens are also known as Hi-Mark Tactile pens containing a 3-dimensional plastic liquid that creates raised shapes, dots, and lines. They can be used for identifying clothing, frozen foods, and canned goods and to mark the different settings on various appliances.
These are raised clear dots that can be used to mark computers, keyboards, appliances, and index cards. This product cannot be applied directly to clothing items.
Plastic black dots with an adhesive backing and slashes for marking keyboards, computers, appliances, and index cards. This product is also not suitable for use on clothing items.
These orange, yellow, white, and black foam-raised dots with adhesive backing are used for making appliances, keyboards, computers, and index cards. They cant be directly used on clothing items.
These come in clear, orange, or black plastic raised dots that also come with an adhesive backing. These products are useful for marking keyboards and computers, appliances, and index cards. They are not suitable for direct use on clothing items.
Pen Friend 2
These are voice labeling systems and electronic color identifiers that allow a user to record or re-record information onto a self-adhesive label. The device speaks the color out loud when holding it against a garment.
Talking Color Identifier With A Light Probe
These are electronic devices that can detect up to 100 colors. This device will also speak a color out loud when holding it against garments.
Adaptive clothing is beneficial for physically disadvantaged people that have the willpower and courage to not allow their disadvantage to interfere with facing the world with confidence.
The innovations that were mentioned above are just a few of the ideas that have helped the blind and visually impaired to live fuller, more colorful, and richer lives and give them confidence when they know that, in their own unique ways, they look beautiful.