During her first-year study of Buying and Merchandising, Victoria became dedicated to exploring the disabled consumer, and the opportunity for extensive growth in mass market adaptive fashion. Victoria has continued to investigate this topic and is committed to achieving greater inclusivity toward disabled consumers within the global fashion industry.
As the adaptive clothing market is predicted to value $400 billion by 2026, it is becoming evident that excluding 15% of the population is not only immoral, and psychologically damaging, but economically illogical. Victoria has become highly passionate about adaptive fashion, with her Major Project concluding how a lack of adaptability discourages the social inclusion of disabled consumers. This was furthered within the Independent Final Project, which identified how digital and social inaccessibility restricts the social identity of disabled consumers, with Google Able posing as the solution.
Artificial Intelligence has been widely acknowledged for revolutionising life within the home, particularly for those with specialist needs or who lack independence, such as the disabled. As Major Project findings presented the social model of disability, a theory which recognises social misconceptions and inaccessibility as the cause of disability exclusion. As a result, Victoria was inspired to manifest an AI led accessibility tool to digitally support disabled consumers within the external environment.
As ¾ disabled consumers have been forced to vacate a retail premises due to poor accessibility, stairs, doorways & corridors (44%), lifts / escalators (23%), ramps / handrails (22%) and disability parking (21%) remain the most common forms of inaccessibility. Victoria recognised that although adaptive fashion held opportunity to heighten disabled consumer identity, social inclusivity could not be achieved without greater accessibility. Google Able resultantly aspires to aid seamless social movement.
Google Able is a digital accessibility toolkit, designed upon Universal Design, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and personal preference systems. Centred around supporting disabled consumers within an ableist environment through 5 key features. Navigation supports disabled consumers in their journey through society, utilising GPS to notify upcoming hotspots of (in)accessibility. Accessibility Feedback enforces businesses to enhance their disability consideration, through users having opportunity to rate the accessibility of their experience, as the Online Community provides disabled consumers with a unified voice against ableism. Adaptive Fashion allows individuals to capture mainstream garments and be directed to similar adaptive alternatives and provide advice on clothing adaptions to suit an individual’s specific needs, as Virtual Fashion encourages users to virtually try-on mass market fashion, and boost their digital identity, based on taste rather than functionality.