Lack of Appropriate Clothing Can Hinder People With Disabilities

According to research from the University of Missouri (MU), approximately 30 million Americans living with mobility challenges and impairments lack the appropriate clothing required for social engagements, work, and exercise.

Allison Kabel, PhD, and Kerri McBee-Black, MS, conducted a national study to identify how clothing affected the lives of people with mobility impairments. Approximately half of the respondents reported that they have declined to participate in activities or events because they lacked or were unable to wear appropriate clothing.

One respondent missed her best friend’s wedding because she was unable to find appropriate attire that would accommodate her mobility impairments. Numerous respondents reported difficulty in finding winter coats that allowed full use of mobility aids and devices because the bulky coats have a tendency to get caught in wheels. A high school respondent was unable to attend the homecoming dance because she didn’t have shoes or a dress to wear.

Participants also expressed concerns about finding appropriate clothing for job interviews or occupation-specific clothing, such as uniforms. More than half of the respondents struggled to find athletic clothing necessary for exercise.

“Declining to participate in an event or refusing to interview for a new job because you don’t have appropriate clothes can be embarrassing for a person and can have long-lasting negative impacts on self-esteem and relationships,” Kabel said. “This research supports the need for new clothing designs to help eliminate the clothing-related barriers for people with disabilities.”

This article was adapted from information provided by MU-Columbia.

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