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Fiona Jarvis

CEO , Blue Badge Style

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Style & disability should not be mutually exclusive

If you're disabled people assume your sense of style is no longer important e.g. disability equipment designers & manufacturers think we like 'grey' and purely functional design. They also assume we have no money to pay for premium products.

Smart, trendy places assume we don't want too visit so don't pay attention to disabled access & facilities. If they have them they are rarely shown on their websites

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  • Oct 18 2013: I think Lejan's comments are spot on!

    I do not think there is an assumption that a disabled person's style is no longer important. I think style is just not as big a driver as economy of scale, in which cost prices being driven down by the benefits of mass production. In a design intended for a disabled person, the expectation is that customization would be needed in excess of normal tailoring for a fit that satisfies the customer. Consequently, the quantity of units divided by style choices, might not offer as much return on investment for the manufacturers.

    There is another expectation that utility and safety would be more important than fashion, from a perception that anything done to somehow give the disabled person some means of overcoming the disability was more important than how it looked. There is also some legal risk concerns, although more in device design than fashion. Perhaps the assumption you mention about an expectation that disabled people have no money (or less to spend on fashion) is a similar mindset, although I am not sure how this assumption bears out statistically. Market folks would know these numbers though, and make decisions based on them.

    As Fritzie mentioned, there is a disabilities act dictating requirements for public facilities here in the US. Many lawsuits have evolved this document to its present form. While there is no substitute for equality in providing services, facilities, and goods for the disabled, perhaps the lack of access in the trendy shops in places where laws do not exist to demand such things could be a business opportunity for some smart marketing group. Maybe webcam fly-through, regular showings of merchandise at facilities that do have such facilities by a cooperative group of trendy shops, or advanced on-line personalization services could help the situation. If a reasonable business model could be developed, there may also be government support of the program.
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      Oct 22 2013: Re economies of scale I believe some disabled people will pay a premium price for a high quality brand/design/fashion item e.g. a crutch or stick or wheelchair. These are common requirements and can be customised at the moment. What I am saying is customisation is not enough, good design with safety is possible and fashion customisation should give more alternatives than there are at the moment.

      I suspect lack of choice is nothing to do with scale rather than they can earn money with the status quo! But people will pay a premium otherwise how do quality brands survive and prosper.

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