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Inclusive Online Shopping & Fashion Technology

Inclusive Online Shopping featured image description is in the body of the post.

 Inclusive Online Shopping & Fashion Technology

“Create inclusion – with simple mindfulness that others might have a different reality from your own.” 

~Patti Digh
Abby is on the job sitting cross legged in her PJs (gray bottoms & white top with a gray collar) with a teal Abby logo laptop on her lap. Sporting her signature explosive hairstyle, she is wearing a headset with microphone and her white cane is propped up next to her.

Recently Steph was asked to take part in a project on the accessibility of online fashion shopping. Collette Costello, creator of Kiku Girl Accessibility Fashion Technology Blog spoke with Steph and two others for comments. From the responses she received, Collette made a video on what makes a good inclusive online shopping experience.

Introduction

Abby: Hi Collette, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Can you tell our readers what Kiku Girl Accessibility Fashion Technology Blog is about?

Collette: My blog and Kiku Girl You-Tube Channel are about making the future of fashion and wearable technology more fun and accessible to young people. I started by looking at new technologies like 3D printed dresses and machines that fold your clothes for you. When I recognized a gap, I began to focus on how to make the world of fashion more inclusive by using technology. Ultimately a more inclusive fashion environment will lead to improving the online shopping experience for everybody.

Abby: I noticed on your ‘About‘ page that you educate women interested in STEM. What was the driving force behind your decision to work with this particular group?

Image is a simple black and white photo of a silver key approaching a black keyhole
Image #1

Collette: I’ve spent many years working in and lecturing about the fashion industry with an interest in the future of fashion and wearable technology. I found many of the designs for fashion technology clothing are not fashionable. There seemed to be this divide between the technology people and the people most interested in fashion—young women. This is because lots of young women don’t choose STEM careers and are more interested in creative subjects. I wanted to show that fashion technology could be fun, exciting, and inspiring. Should they desire, they could have a future career in STEM.  

Inclusion In Fashion & Beauty 

Abby: Historically the beauty and fashion industries are not inclusive. Have you noticed a shift in how these industries are looking at people with disabilities (PWDs) as a market segment?

Collette: The fashion industry is all about making money with mainstream products, and advertisements. The majority of which target the masses, not the individual. We’re beginning to see more niche markets with PWDs included in fashion advertisements. While this still more about making a statement, meanwhile, a quiet revolution of ordinary people is occurring. Beauty and fashion bloggers living with disabilities are defining what it means to have an interest in fashion and beauty.

A big issue is the more specialised an item of clothing the more expensive it is to make. With technological advancements such as 3D printing, it’s becoming cheaper to make more personalised products. Because of this,  we may see more fashion items for PWDs in the future.

Technology In The Lives Of PWDs

Abby: Technology is making a dramatic improvement in the lives of PWDs. Do you envision more employment opportunities within the field of fashion for PWDs because of some of the technological advances?

Collette: The focus at the moment is more about what fashion technology can do, like your bracelet turning into a phone. I began to feel the needs of the consumer were being compromised because everyone was so focused on the future. They weren’t looking at how the technology we have now can be used to benefit the user. This is the reason I made the “How Accessible is Fashion Shopping On-line?” video to highlight this issue.

I see accessibility as being the future of technology and it is this which I think will create employment opportunities for PWDs within fashion. Imagine PWDs working with fashion companies to make sure their websites, shops, and products are accessible and usable. Also, I think companies will gain a better understanding of disabilities and break down some of the prejudices around the hiring practices of PWDs.

Fashion Resource Recommendations

Abby: Can you recommend a few fashion resources for PWDs such as books, websites, designers, etc.?

Collette: A great blog that is giving style and beauty advice in the form of podcasts is Inclusive Style, they are pioneers in this area as I have never heard an audio fashion blog before. Blue Badge Style is another blog dedicated to highlighting accessible venues and products that are also stylish and fashionable. Open Style Lab is an organisation that design innovative clothing personal to each person’s disability, projects include speakers built into clothing to help people with speech problems, other ideas are using conductive fibers so wearers can control their wheelchairs by touching their pocket.

Abby: Thank you, Collette, for stopping by and taking the time to chat with me.

Inclusive Online Shopping Featured Image Description:

The image is twelve online shopping cart icons in various shades of blue and green. Each of the icons are square, circle and hexagon shaped.

Image #1:

The image is a simple black and white photo of a silver key approaching a black keyhole.

You can connect with Collette on:

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Virtual Beauty For Blind & VI Women

Abby's Corner image is described in the body of the post.
Created by Jessica Marano

Hello My Friends,

Can you believe another week has passed? It seems like it was just yesterday we were moving into this past week.

One might think that life as a cartoon character is boring but I have to say my life pretty phenomenal. I mean, think about it, who I am, what I do and who I become is only limited by my creator’s imagination. So if the imagination is boundless there is absolutely nothing I cannot do.

If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it.” ~Muhammad Ali

Technology has made what was once impossible possible. Take clothes shopping, for example, gone are the days where we have to go to a physical store to fulfill our retail therapy goals. Don’t get me wrong I still enjoy shopping excursions with my gal pals but with such a busy schedule it can be just as convenient to shop online.

As technology continues to evolve it’s my hope that retail websites will become more inclusive from a disability standpoint. For example, many of us who are blind or visually impaired use special tools to assist us in navigating the internet however if a site is poorly designed, inaccessible or there is only minimal description these things make the buying experience less than ideal.

A dream product of mine is a “Mirror Mirror” like in Snow White. Once programmed with data needed to produce a verbal output it could help blind and visually impaired women with the ability to become as adept at makeup application as they so choose.

With adjustments to make them more accessible, virtual dressing rooms like tri Mirror or Dressing Room by Gap, can, in the long run, be beneficial to everyone. Being able to create a personalized avatar, inputting measurements, then trying on clothes, makes the tri Mirror an interesting tool but I’d love to hear input from my totally blind friends. Afterall if verbal feedback isn’t an option this will be an opportunity for us to make our mark.

Image Description: The Abby’s Corner illustration was created by Jessica Marano. I’m sitting cross-legged on the floor with my laptop (complete with my Abby logo on the cover) in my jammies and slippers. On my head, with signature explosive hairstyle intact, is a headset and microphone to allow me to use my accessibility features on my laptop.  My white cane is propped up next to me.

Au revoir! ~Abby

 

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How Do You Use A Computer When You Can’t See?

“I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.” ~C.G. Jung

#1 - Screenreading & Magnification Tools located on my bottom toolbar.
#1 – Screenreading & Magnification Tools

One question I’m frequently asked as it relates to my sight loss is how I’m able to do some of the things I do like; work on the computer, read, watch tv, cook, grocery shopping, travel independently, walk my dog, makeup application, coordinating outfits, to name a few. The short answer is with training I’ve learned how to accomplish day-to-day tasks with low-tech labeling tools like fluorescent bump dots or Ott lamp to high-tech gadgets like video magnifiers or CCTVs (closed circuit televisions).

#2 - Magnification Controls
#2 – Magnification Menu

#3 - Magnified page
#3 – Transparent Magnifying Glass

Several decades ago when I first heard the term “paperless office” I thought there’s no way this will work. I couldn’t comprehend what would happen to my paper filing systems I mean I had many years worth of pay stubs, bank statements, health records, financial records, household data and on and on.

#4 - Full Page Magnified View
#4 – Full Page Magnified View

Thankfully as technology evolves I do too. I went from someone who had to keep every scrap of paper because “you just never know when you’ll need it” to a shredding maniac and transferred my paper filing skills to digital. Today, I do everything online and I have no need for paper other than to scan it to my computer if need be.

#5 - Magnification Options (full, lens, docked)
#5 – Magnification Options (full, lens, docked)

Since my life literally revolves around my computer I felt the time was right to show you how I use it especially in view of the fact that my magnifying/screen reading software of choice is not compatible with my system. Windows has built-in accessibility or “Ease of Access” which includes a narrator, magnifier, high contrast, closed captions, keyboard, mouse and other options.

#6 - Magnification Lens
#6 – Magnification Lens

My laptop is connected to a 32-inch flat screen television which I use as a monitor. With such a nice size screen, I have more desktop real estate to manage multiple programs with increased magnification. I’ll describe each of the screenshots in this post to give you an idea of how I use Windows 10 built-in accessibility.

#7 - Narrator Options (general, voice, commands, minimize)
#7 – Narrator Options (general, voice, commands, minimize)

  1. I’ve pinned the narrator and magnifier tools (highlighted) to my taskbar at the bottom of my screen. This way I don’t have to hunt for the settings.
  2. When I open the magnification tool the control menu pops up. In this screenshot, the plus and minus signs allow for an increased or decreased view. There are 3 optional views from which to choose (full screen, floating lens or docked lens). The magnifier goes up to 1600% however at this setting there is very little on the screen.
  3. No matter what optional view is chosen (this is full screen) there is a transparent magnifying glass (arrow highlight) that I can click on at any time to change my settings.
  4. When I click on the magnifying glass the magnification menu appears so I can alter my adjustments.
  5. This screenshot shows the available viewing options and keyboard shortcuts.
  6. The highlighted circle shows what the lens option looks like. It will magnify wherever the mouse is moved.
  7. The narrator menu has a number of options such as voice, speed, pitch and volume. In addition, you can select how the narrator starts, navigation and create keyboard shortcuts.

Life is different after you develop a disability, but when the focus is placed on what you can do, with some adaptations, life continues onward.