Accessibility Tools

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In the past, most adaptive clothing brands or suppliers focused solely on older people, keeping styles and designs very generic and simple with limited variety. Nowadays, there is a push to provide more accessible options online and more modern, young designs. We have had a look at some different options in the Adaptive Clothing scene in Australia and have done the research for you on what is what. 

What is adaptive clothing?

Fashion is an essential part of peoples identities. It can help us express ourselves and can allow us to feel more confident. But what happens when it seems your clothing works against you? This can be a familiar feeling amongst those with disabilities. That is where the concept of adaptive clothing was created.  Adaptive clothing ensures that that the function of getting dressed every day is pain-free and convenient for those with various mobility needs. These days it combines fashion and function, as both are considered equally important. 

Is there a need for modern design?

These days, there is a strong focus on making sure that adaptive clothing designs are functional and appeal to everyone- fashion-wise. With more and more adaptive fashion lines popping up all over the country, there are more options for those with a disability to feel confident and fashion-forward. Everyone should feel happy with the fashion choices made available to them, disability or not. 

What are the types of adaptive clothing available?

Nowadays, online retailers sell not only clothing articles but also an array of accessories and sensory-specific items. These include items that assist with ease of dressing, easy closure items, seated wear and specific footwear (to name a few!).

Some examples:

Magnetic Based Closures- are used in place of a traditional button, which can be a challenge to utilise due to motor difficulties, limb-based disabilities, etc. Using a magnetic-based closure for clothing items allows people to become more independent and half the time you spend getting dressed! No more fiddly button closures. 

Velcro Shirt Openings- Much like magnetic-based closures, this allows people to open and close their clothing items with ease and independently. Examples of these items include adaptive crew tees, jumpers and underwear. 

Open Back Clothing - If you have limited mobility, it can be challenging to navigate the task of slipping a t-shirt over your head. Open back clothing allows people to access their clothing items front on. This is very helpful for the person with the disability and carers of those in wheelchairs or those with limited mobility. 

Zippers Shoes - Traditional shoes can be a big hurdle for those who struggle with finger or limb function. That is where zippers can be super helpful. They allow you to slip your shoe on and off easily and will enable the top of the shoe to open up for people with wider feet.

Seated Wear - Examples of seated wear include leggings explicitly designed for those with catheters, cropped seated jackets and A-line skirts. These different types of clothing make the concept of getting dressed and maneuvering about your day in a Wheelchair much more functional and user friendly. There are also wide-based pants for those who require lower limb prosthetics. 

Unpaired Shoes- Some stores are beginning to stock individual, unpaired shoes marketed towards amputees or those with varying shoe widths or sizes. These single shoes mean less waste, less cost and more accesibility for people with disability.

So, how do you purchase AND claim such items under NDIS?

Do you want to use your NDIS funding to access adaptive clothing items? First, make sure your plan aligns with the products you wish to purchase. This is standard for NDIS plans as is, and it may be worth having a conversation with your Local Area Coordinator, Support Coordinator or Plan Manager to see what you can and cannot claim. In addition, some suppliers are registered NDIS providers and are approved under Assistive Products Personal Care, which allows for certain items to be purchased under consumables in your plan. Not sure? Giving the service provider a ring with your questions may help too!

Related: Adaptive Fashion

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