Accessibility Meets Fashion In Clothing Identification Solutions
Improving accessibility for blind and visually impaired (B&VI) people is a critical and ongoing process. Thanks to my role in Bold Blind Beauty, I have participated in many research projects on the topic of accessibility. The most recent ‘creating accessible makeup packaging for (B&VI) people’ was so exciting I could barely contain myself. Exchanging ideas and coming up with novel approaches to creating more accessible makeup is huge. What this means, in a nutshell, is we are moving in the right direction.
So a few days ago, I was thrilled when Faye, contacted me. Faye, a recent fashion and textile designer graduate, working on her Master’s dissertation asked if I could put feelers out in my network. She needs to collect anonymous data to move forward with the project.
What was interesting to me is Faye’s reason behind her research. I found out her passion for her work was borne as a result of her mom’s chronic illness. Her mom wanted to look beautiful even when she was at her worst. What influenced Faye to make a difference was her mom’s clothes didn’t last long because of her disability.
Hi, my name is Faye and I’m a mature Masters student from the University of Portsmouth. I am writing a paper to identify areas that need improvement in the clothing identification of (B&VI) people. Creating digital labeling solutions will follow. I am looking for participants to complete my survey or just to comment. This will help me understand the processes and what people actually want to know about their clothes for easier identification. The data will be transferred into the labels.
Have you ever heard of Seiichi Miyake? No, this isn’t a new fashion trend or makeup line, it’s the name of the Japanese inventor of truncated domes. Also called braille blocks, tactile paving, or detectable warning surfaces these unique patterns are identifiable with our canes.
Located on the ground at intersections or on the edges of train platforms they let us know where we are. I love these bumps because it’s another way for me to get to where I want to go. Which of course, is usually to find a cute new outfit, maybe matching shoes, or possibly a whole new makeover!
So I was thrilled to find that today’s Google Doodle—the daily animation of Google’s logo— is honoring cane accessibility. As a long time cane user, accessibility and inclusion are always near and dear to my heart.
Google is celebrating the introduction of truncated domes by honoring its inventor Seiichi Miyake. 52 years ago Seiichi wanted to help a blind friend navigate better in big cities, railways, and parks.
The animation shows a white cane and sneaker-clad feet walking on the yellow raised bars towards the bumps. ‘Google’ is spelled out in upper case letters with different colors in the bumps on the ground. An animation of this type on a global search engine is another way to showcase our independence. We walk boldly in confidence with our white canes eradicating misconceptions about blindness and sight loss.
To learn more about how the truncated domes were developed, and how we use them to navigate click the Google logo. And of course, while you’re online you might as well take advantage of some retail therapy. Find some fun fashion or bling to add to your collections!
Finding Fashion With Bumps & Bars Featured Image Description:
Image of Google’s looped 20-second animation. The image shows a person with a white cane wearing black and white sneakers. The cane detects the word ‘Google’ spelled out in different colors on the truncated domes on the ground.
“Diversity Is Being Invited to the Party; Inclusion Is Being Asked to Dance”
I published a quick blog post earlier today about a new project. The original idea involved creating a fully accessible digital magazine for blind and visually impaired people. As my partner, Chelsea Nguyen of CN Vision Image Consulting and I continued hashing out our plan it evolved. Since we agreed our publication should be wholly inclusive then so should our readers and contributors. So we expanded our idea to include people across the disability spectrum.
Chelsea, a talented image consultant, agreed to give our featured guests and cover models, an online consultation. We divvied up our tasks then got down to the serious business of pulling together a team of contributors. Within a couple of weeks, we had a name, domain, logo, social media platforms and more. The only thing missing? I’m glad you asked. Allow me to elaborate.
We found a cool magazine creation platform that was relatively easy to use if you don’t have a disability. I noticed missing alt text fields which are used to describe images to people who use screen readers. Not to be deterred, we asked a Techno Wizard if he knew of a company who would work with us.
During our initial email exchanges with the company, we thought they might work out. Sadly during our live demo, while the platform was WCAG 2.1 AA compliant it was a bust. WCAG 2.1 or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines is just fancy talk for sites that meet accessibility standards. Our problem was the service didn’t include the ability to create the magazine on the back end.
Where Do We Go From Here?
CAPTIVATING! is the name of our publication. Why? Because we believe people with disabilities are valuable, capable, and tenacious. The problem is society isn’t set up to accommodate many of us. Case in point, CAPTIVATING! Oh, and word on the street is a new content editor isn’t accessible (but you didn’t hear it from me). Thank heavens we developed a tagline that’s fundamental to our belief system: “The power and possibilities of inclusion are limitless!”
Currently, there doesn’t seem to be a wholly accessible platform for people with disabilities to collaborate and design a digital publication. In view of this Chelsea and our team had to get a little creative to pull this off. Our end product isn’t perfect and as we keep going we will get better. But imagine how much we could do if we had the proper tools? This is what it’s like living with a disability day in day out.
The world wasn’t designed for us and so many times we have to create workarounds just to do basic tasks that many take for granted. Is it fair? No it isn’t which is why we advocate for change, for inclusion. Disability rights are human rights.
We couldn’t create a fancy online magazine with audio, video, alt-text and yet pretty. It just doesn’t exist yet so we had to improvise. Here is a link to the first issue of CAPTIVATING! An accessible copy of the magazine will be distributed by our friends at the NFB (National Federation of the Blind).
Digital Magazine Accessibility Experiment IRL Featured Image Description:
CAPTIVATING! Front cover: on the top Quarter of the cover page Is the logo and name of the magazine, captivating, written in white bold All capital letters except for the ‘V’ in the magazine name is drawn with an artistic style font in bold red and looks like a big check mark. At the end of the word, ‘captivating’ is a red bold exclamation mark. Under CAPTIVATING! is the tagline “The power and possibilities of inclusion are limitless.”