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How can fashion retailers represent and accommodate disabled people?

SophmorgSophmorg Posts: 3Member Listener
Hello! I’m Sophie Morgan, patron for Scope. I’m passionate about everyday equality for disabled people and the work Scope is doing to help achieve this. I am currently working on a personal project that is looking into how fashion retailers can represent and accommodate disabled people better. I would absolutely love to know how you would like to see the high street change to improve the shopping experiences for disabled consumers!
 
For example, if you could design your ideal shop/space that better represents and accommodates disabled people, what would it look like? e.g. would you have audio descriptions of clothing? Use disabled models? or have a space for wheelchair attachments?
 
Any thoughts, comments and ideas would be much appreciated!

Replies

  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 7,732Administrator Scope community team
    As someone who deals with fatigue, I would love to see more seating areas in shopping centres and in the shops themselves. There are times when I abandon my shopping because I just need to sit down and there is nowhere to perch.

    Also more toilets! A lack of public toilets will often put me off going somewhere.
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 7,732Administrator Scope community team
    @tutumamo I wondered as a tailor if you had anything to add to this?
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • NystagmiteNystagmite Posts: 609Member Pioneering
    Space is an issue. Why the need to cram so much in so little space? It makes getting around (and this is coming from someone who doesn't even use a wheelchair) difficult.
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 7,732Administrator Scope community team
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 7,732Administrator Scope community team
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • coyotejamescoyotejames Posts: 2Member Listener
    yes a simple thing for any shop is being able to get between racks with wheelchair and even not having a step to get into the building
  • dkkenny67dkkenny67 Posts: 4Member Listener
    I feel that all shops should have automatic doors; or if a person cant get into the shop then that person should be compensated  for the trouble that the shop caused 
  • MazzMazz Posts: 5Member Listener
    I agree with all the above comments.  But it's not just clothes shops...  
    Shoe Shops or rather shops that sell shoes.  Need a viable place to try them on.
    Supermarkets need a seat at the opposite end from the Entry to rest.

    There is never enough room for Wheelchairs and regularly get caught up in clothes rails.  On one occasion dragging a bra to the next shop.  I returned it.  haha

    STEPS  STEPS  STEPS  STEPS  STEPS  STEPS  STEPS  STEPS  STEPS  

    Help would be advantageous,  Personal shopping assistance.
  • budgiemillinsbudgiemillins Posts: 4Member Connected
    As someone who uses a motability  scooter I would like the shelves a bit lower and a bit more room in between things so I can manoeuvre  around all to make changing rooms a bit bigger also some lifts aren't big enough either
  • MrsEinsteinMrsEinstein Posts: 3Member Listener
    More 'visible' assistants to help.....its impossible to browse in a relaxed way when...you cant reach things....it takes so long to try things on so if you need a different size its just too much bother...i tend to shop on line just for ease but i love to be in the atmosphere in a shop, the smell of new clothes, the newest styles......i love it but.....too many obstacles.....
    items at easy to reach heights..especially when a sale is on, things are so crammed in disables people are immediatly unable to enjoy and benefit from sales!
    Display clothiing on disables shaped manakins.......
    paying for goods......queues omg......height of some counters......i could go on and on.....
  • foxukfoxuk Posts: 93Member Courageous
    I think it's not something that is going to be achieved with the existing retail premises.

    I am the disabled son of a disabled father and I have a disabled wife. When it comes to being aware of the problems I have a 'little' experience. Having run retail businesses for much of my working life I am aware of the other side of the coin as well.

    We have to understand that businesses exist to make a profit. With many small businesses the ability to eat is often a problem.

    With the existing retail premises, particularly in older areas, properties cannot be made accessible, let alone negotiable by wheelchair. Changes to the structure of leasehold premises must have the consent of the ground landlord and this will be paid for PLUS all the ground landlord's costs for the matter. Solicitors, surveyors, architects, and an 'approved' builder can make a small job cost tens of thousands.

    With my first business I experienced this problem. The shop was on the corner of a hill. The main entrance was up two steps. the only way wheelchair entry could be achieved was by using the side (private accommodation) door, which I would gladly use often apologising for the council's refusal to alter the pavement. I still was targeted by a couple of self styled, silver spoon in mouth, 'activists' who tried to berate me on the 'humiliation' of using a side door. Luckily my (obviously disabled) dad was present and came from the rear store and explained to them in good 'Anglo-Saxon' where they could put their demands.

    Protests at the wrong target only alienate people. The built environment is the responsibility of our elected representatives in the council to change. Austerity is only the latest excuse, there have been many more, and I am sure there will be more in future.

    With new build and conversions there is NO excuse for lack of access. The simple answer to 'it's not possible' is 'then the building should not be passed for change to retail use'.
    In many cases there have been toilets and access provision included in plans only to have the doors locked when the shop opens, one still displayed the notices but had the door locked, locally.
    The worst example, just after the DDA was a physiotherapy clinic being allowed to open in a conversion/refurbishment of a carriage house with the entrance up half a dozen steps, no ramp or alternate access..... you couldn't make it up!
    Our old doctor's surgery locked the disabled loo as drug addicts were using it. A polite complaint to our doctor (Senior Partner) changed this, but we were removed from their list when he retired.
    We have to take into account the physical, financial and planning problems of the shopkeepers before making demands
  • Kathy_BramleyKathy_Bramley Posts: 132Member Courageous
    edited May 2017
    1.Store environment.
    Work on acoustics and visual noise, entrances to changing rooms that don't flow well, and tags with number of items and where item return systems are complicated, unclear and involving a lot of clattering hard surfaces, sometimes fallen clothes and bodies working in the entrance, .inaccessible strangely lit cubicles, not enough clothes hanging space, clothes that are too difficult to get back on hangers. Generally reducing glare and clatter and hsnd-eye coordination/puzzle-type challenges in store is good: as while sometimes a good noisy rummage in a mirrored steel rack is good, other times it's a big part of a stressful, harsh environment. 

    2.Labelling, sensory & integrated Design festures.
    Labels and seams that are not sticking out is a classic one but it also matters what you tell us about clothes and how easy to put on and wear well they are. 
    Consider an experimental multidimension labelling system (akin to wine labelling?) looking at how clothing feels on, knowing things like how easy the tailoring is to wear, and how to wear it.

    How to wear is quite a problem for me with fitted busts or lines I'm not sure how they're meant to sit,  rows of buttons that might not sit right when you're sitting down or with different posture, moving awkwardly.

    As a person with sensory issues with them in my family as well and being part of the autism and wider neurodiversity and special needs lobe of the disability community, I could definitely talk about classic sensory friendly issues like seams and labels. But it's eider. These are issues that also might affect wear ability if you're sitting down in a chair all the time or using crutches or have CP or again, stim: chafing and poking seams and extras in awkward places of clothes that are the right size is , things that have belts and awkward sinches or not enough room in the shoulders affects me and might affect a wide range of people. You have petite/standard ranges but what about low sensory, comfy fit? Not sure as it will communicate well in some ways but probably avoid terming that "easy wear" unlike wine labelling, the pejorative possibility might matter more. That's a whole messy kettle of fish don't let it put you off.

    Ease of pulling on and off and the squeeze/range of movement required in doing that is another important thing. Accessibility to self versus carer accessibility is another thing. 

    Considering like cars different options may be important. Otherwise you have to go to specialists that may be hard to find or don't have economies of scale or are straight up overcharging. 

    Making items with a range of fastenings or having considered all this stuff and letting us know would be good.
    More designers thinking too about morphs of their clothes or designing their standard to accommodate things like feeding tubes or stomas, or blood sugar monitors. Or sneaky packets of malteasers. 

    Fabrics -eg cotton - and sometimes dyes (cobalt-based darker dyes mentioned by eczema nurse) are important to eczema, many dermatological skim conditions as well as relevant to sensory issues.

     Ease of wearing, making it obvious, instructions, sensory friendly clothing come together in another issue I find with my daughter and myself - knowing which way around things go. Cotton knickers with soft prints/bows/small buttons on the front and contrasting gussets are helpful but hard to find. 

    Washing well and things that clean easily and wear well are important to everyone, but particularly important to me and people generally in the disabled community I should think!? You've got so much energy and time to spend on getting spilt lasagna out. But oh so much capacity to spill it. Or me, anyways. Obviously not a given that you're a clumsy mucky pup scruff, but I am. Sometimes it might be nice to wear frou frou stuff with odd seams that scratch everywhere but not forblong, I think deciding what kind of fashion tribe you are shouldn't have to be based on what's bearable. I've had arguments with my mum all my life and sometimes added fuel and distress to my gender nonconformity. I'd rather have princess dresses made of cotton. In blue and white. But I do want a better range of less gendered and less sexualized clothes that are more about affordable practical classic style . 

    And that brings me onto another issue that touches on many others, an end to fast fashion (or less empahsis on it) and clear up environmental and non-exploitation concerns. It's not necessarily a direct disability issue you may say, but anger and guilt at injustice and environmental in the world are quite important to me, and enduring obsessional interest. Its important to balance accessibility debates about prepared avocados (veg counters: supermarket peeps, think about it. Fancy cut radishes look great!) We're human beings too. Plus, lots of issues and frustrations I mentioned above seem to relate to affordable quality.
    Though as the Bangles sing in Everything I Wanted, I'll never know if my heart tells lies.
    Be prepared to be flexible and road test ideas.   Just because disability is so complicated doesn't mean we're not a worthwhile example or target/focus of customers. Remember the maxim good accessibility is good for everybody. 


    Lucky unlucky
    Guess my diagnosis,
    It may help, but
    Don't guess my kids's
  • Kathy_BramleyKathy_Bramley Posts: 132Member Courageous
    The Temple of Doom is an Indiana Jones film with a lot of problematic elements but I have fondness for the memory of it in some ways and hang on particularly to a description of his look in a graphic novel of the film, his linen jacket "cut a little looser than the fashion to allow for sudden movement". 

    It made me feel better and more dynamic on the fashion and physical front. Because I was always very aware of uncomfortable clothes that felt restricted under both sudden and ordinary movement. 
    Lucky unlucky
    Guess my diagnosis,
    It may help, but
    Don't guess my kids's
  • Kathy_BramleyKathy_Bramley Posts: 132Member Courageous
    Footwear: A wider range of girls shoes/less gendered/cross gendered shoes for children and adults is also an accessibility issue. Difficult to find sturdy protective supportive waterproof comfortable shoes for school and outside. Especially in a range of smart and casual styles. Stubbed toe/being stamped on protection is something to consider. Stubbed toe in steelies is not better that sturdy leather. Plastic shoes aren't always that good at impact protect and have similar downside/inner crush to steelies. Vegan/cruelty free options are important: seems to be more common to be vegetarian or vegan with Aspergers type autism, I went veggie at 8 like my son, and stopped at uni.  Eczema and plastic "boats" as my mum used to call my teenager shoes and stubbed toes meant my feet weren't comfortable which didn't help my coordination as I was probably doing my best to dissociate from my feet being distracting and painful. I spent a lot of time walking around in no shoes at all enacting the role of the hippy and because shoes were uncomfortable and more fuss then they were worth but of course it attracted negative attention. I am also quite heavy on my shoes, and to pay a lot of money for a style and comfortable fit that works for me to then have it wear down is a problem. I bought a pair of comfortable shoes aimed at older people I think, eccos, the soles wore down in a month but they were expensive!!! I'm not very good at researching and organising alternatives or modding my everyday equipment, I like to find what I can in a reasonable amount of time and make it work by putting up with it. I struggle with laces on my boots, I havent bought into shoes a lot, but unlike Docs I found only Cat boots really had a tread that lasted, and then rather trek out to find them my husband buys them online. Although I am not sure he finds the fiddly faff of that any easier than I do. He's better with laces! Speaking of which, I still can't get the Ian knot by professor shoelace, and  although I learnt to tie them late I prefer to tie them rather than buy and install lace alternatives like toggles. I don't like the feel of push button toggles, and because of incidents where elastic chords got trapped and snapped back with outdoor gear and coats they slightly frighten me. As do push fit plastic buckles. I accidentally trapped my  daughter's skin in them on buggies when she was little, and I had mixed feelings about them anyway. 

    Resumé
    Razors pain you; 
    Rivers are damp; 
    Acids stain you; 
    And drugs cause cramp. 
    Guns aren’t lawful; 
    Nooses give; 
    Gas smells awful; 
    You might as well live.

    I could write a version of that about fasteners and maybe clothes generally, bit you can't go naked, or it causes trouble and you get cold  and skin is easily grazed if you do. 
    Lucky unlucky
    Guess my diagnosis,
    It may help, but
    Don't guess my kids's
  • Kathy_BramleyKathy_Bramley Posts: 132Member Courageous
    I appreciate what you're saying foxuk, especially about small retailers as my mum's a partner in an independent bookshop that are only scrapes by and has said to me cringeybthings that seemed like fair points about similar things, responses about village pubs and community activities type accessibility, rubbing people the wrong way and everybody needs help or bodging to for some way or other and calling out and animosity ruffles feathers. While there's a debate about that in modern intersectional feminism, see Everyday Feminism while it's still surviving for meditation on the complexity, I do really value the "middle class activists" and they're not just middle class and it's not just them they win it for.  I think there's more scope than is imagined for change in old housing stock having been a fan of Grand Designs, even without the government paying depending on credit availability, though I still think the government should pay. I think accessibility may be more important than shop front heritage, conservation areas and preservation generally and that there's possibility anyway for good design and visually pleasant compromise. If there's big windows, there's room for automatic doors. If there's two steps there's room for a small unobtrusive ramp instead. Or a lifting step. But I appreciate what you say about planning control. That's another good idea. 
    And activists and allies always need to be more aware of intersections, that privilege and disadvantage is relative and relevant, we all possess a mixture,  don't want to rub other  peoples disadvantages in their faces or be sneering about it. But as I say, accessibility is really important and it isn't wiped out by the privilege of class or time and activism is an effective way to use privilege, and I think we're agreed a lack of accessibility has got major ramifications for quality of life, exclusion and valuing of disabled life through familiar contact, if not as needfully dramatically or the truthful single experience in life. Were many of us tough and can adapt ourselves.  But should we have to do all of it? No.  And I think there are creative options available. I want us as a nation of people to push forwards together. 
    Lucky unlucky
    Guess my diagnosis,
    It may help, but
    Don't guess my kids's
  • ArthurArthur Posts: 7Member Listener
    edited May 2017
    Not sure if this is relevant, I don't class myself as disabled, though I have stannard all my life, my severity isn't as bad as others, though there has been discrimination against us people who stutter/stammer, your thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Arthur.

  • MikeBroderickMikeBroderick Posts: 234Member Courageous
    edited May 2017
    In addition to my Twitter comment above about keeping aisles passable for those using wheelchairs, crutches, scooters, walkers etc., one thing all shops can do is to train shop assistants and cashiers to give customers notes and coins separately. If I'm on my crutches or even using my mobility scooter it is difficult to handle coins and notes at the same time. The result is that I often drop coins which creates hassle and further delay for the people in the queue behind me. The easiest thing is to receive all the coins first, so I can put them in my pocket, and then the notes. 
  • AlexAlex Posts: 1,325Scope Team Scope community team
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 7,732Administrator Scope community team
  • callumchilledcallumchilled Posts: 13Member Connected
    One problem, is access to the menswear department. I am a wheelchair user, and the new menswear department at Burton's in town, is upstairs. There is no lift, so it is impossible for me to even see what clothes they have there.  

    The height of shelves in in supermarkets is another problem for me. I can't reach what's on the top few shelves, and there never seems to be anyone around to help you when you want them.

    Labelling of clothes could be easier with better placement of the size and price tickets.
  • Kathy_BramleyKathy_Bramley Posts: 132Member Courageous
    Arthur said:
    Not sure if this is relevant, I don't class myself as disabled, though I have stannard all my life, my severity isn't as bad as others, though there has been discrimination against us people who stutter/stammer, your thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Arthur.

    I stammer when stressed and clutter and struggle with short term memory and word retrieval and am sometimes anxious not sure how to be in a place and am clumsier when stressed and if I am looking after my children and particularly when they're finding things difficult I can be in a right flap and although I generally haven't really had problems from staff in shops small incidents really stay with you and also I can be reliving my past as a child and a mother in my mind and emotional memory also sensory stuff glare and heat and wanting to make a good impression and noise from fans and anything that's not distracting or comfortable can make the communication aspects of the shopping experience harder to get through.

    It is interesting about the language  point and whether you class yourself as disabled I think the training  store development and thinking processes the initiative  in general should cover all aspects of access rather than disabled people label the provision rather than the people and good access is good for everybody
    Lucky unlucky
    Guess my diagnosis,
    It may help, but
    Don't guess my kids's
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