Academy of Art University Discusses Disability in Design

The inclusivity of those living with disabilities has been an important topic of discussion as of late and the Academy of Art University is getting involved. While the students at the School of Fashion at the Academy of Art University may create beautiful pieces, they aren’t always with the needs of the disabled in mind. Students and other participants were asked to participate in a discussion with a panel of people who have experienced disability first hand.

While fashion designers don’t purposely disclude those with disabilities from their design they sometimes tend to consider their needs. Even simple things like zipper placement can be important to those with mobility issues as they may spend a large portion of the day in a chair. For those using walkers, it can be difficult to wear clothing that requires constant adjustment as they require both hands to be mobile.

For Stephanie Thomas, a 2013 Academy of Art Alumnus, the topic is very close to her heart as she was born missing several toes and a thumb. After being told that she could never dance or properly walk, she became a Chicago Bulls cheerleader and is now an adjunct professor. Additionally, she started her own company that focuses on the fashion needs of the disabled community

The panel was also joined by Chelsea Werner and her mother. Chelsea has Down Syndrome and is also a 4 time Special Olympics champion in gymnastics. She has been featured in an H&M campaign as well as having been a model for NY Fashion Week.

Lisa insisted that it was important that designers started designing with more inclusivity. She has a difficult time finding shoes like high heels in her size due to her size and disability and doesn’t want to be forced to wear clothing designed for children. She does have hope that things will change in the very near future.

Founded in 1929, the Academy of Art University is located in San Francisco, California. It is one of the largest privately owned schools of its kind in the United States. Bi-annually since 2005, the Academy of Art University participates in the New York Fashion Week.

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