A recent study concludes that, by providing more accessible clothing options, apparel manufacturers can play a vital role in helping people with disabilities to navigate social barriers and engage more with their communities.

Responses to a national survey of persons with mobility issues regarding how clothing impacted their lives suggest that persons with disabilities lack the appropriate clothing required for social engagements, work, and exercise.

This lack of appropriate clothing may hinder people from participating in social activities and important events, according to a media release from University of Missouri Health.

“People don’t enter the world able-bodied and independent, but the clothing industry continues to exclusively cater to able-bodied individuals despite the fact that people with disabilities often miss out on important life events due to clothing-related problems,” says Allison Kabel, assistant professor of health sciences in the University of Missouri’s (MU) School of Health Professions, in the release.

“People with mobility impairments can still live independently, but it is more difficult if they don’t have clothing that meets their needs,” adds Kabel, who conducted the survey along with Kerri McBee Black, instructor of textile and apparel management in the College of Human Environmental Sciences.

Approximately half of the respondents reported that they have declined to participate in activities or events because they lacked or were unable to wear appropriate clothing. For example, people missed attending weddings, funerals, school dances, baseball games and graduation, the release explains.

Examples of responses included missing a wedding because appropriate attire that would accommodate mobility requirements could not be found, difficulty in finding warm coats that still allowed full use of mobility aids as the coats had a tendency to get caught in the wheels, and missing a Homecoming dance because of the lack of a dress and appropriate shoes.

“The lack of attractive, functional clothing can be detrimental to overall well-being if individuals are unable to present themselves according to personal standards,” Kabel notes in the release.

“Declining to participate in an event or refusing to interview for a new job because you don’t have appropriate clothes can be embarrassing for a person and can have long-lasting negative impacts on self-esteem and relationships. This research supports the need for new clothing designs to help eliminate the clothing-related barriers for people with disabilities,” she concludes.

A study about the survey was published recently in Applied Ergonomics.

[Source(s): University of Missouri Health, Newswise]