Meg Casey
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"Most Able Disabled"

Meg Casey's handicapped issues column

Fashion for the Blind

Meg Casey
January 26, 1983

Dear Meg:

Two of my daughters recently at had the opportunity to help our committee at the Milford Independent Disabled Persons (M.I.D.P.) Christmas party. The evening afforded them a chance of observing and speaking with many people with a variety of disabilities.

Upon returning home I was surprised to realize this was the first time that either of them ever met a person who was blind. Being able to witness these people conduct themselves in a highly social setting left them quite impressed and full of questions!

I think that I managed to find my way through most of the answers without any problem.

However, how does a blind person coordinate his or her clothing when he or she is unable to see the different prints on the materials?

Linda P

Dear Linda,

As I recall your girls were a big help that night so I suppose their question deserves my utmost attention. (It’s a great question and I’m sure many people would be interested in finding out what they've always been afraid ask!)

I called the Board of Education Services for the blind in Hartford in order find someone qualified to explain the latest techniques taught. I was put in touch with an Alice Jackson who is a rehabilitation teacher there.

Alice is also blind.

She explained to me that there isn't one set method used universally for color coding or identifying one's own clothing but that is still pretty much left to the individual to develop a system that works for them.

Shopping is usually done with a companion that is trusted to know their tastes or in shops where the help is familiar with their likes and can assist in making selections (Money can also be a distinguishing factor.)

Alice usually uses the sense of touch to find an outstanding characteristic of the item buttons, style, texture which will serve to trigger her memory whenever she feels at it once and she is taking it home.

The color coordination of the outfit can be handled by hanging the whole outfit together in one place. The re-sorting of their laundry and matching of the socks etc. might require the help of a sighted person.

Being such a close horse myself I had to rebel against the idea of being limited by the range of my instant recall. I've clothes in my closet that I haven't seen for years! Alice assured me that there was no reason to keep yourself in a uniform.

When dealing with three blouses of the same style and fabric but different colors, Alice will mark the tags in some way. For instance, if the items have two labels in the neckline, she will take both out of the blue, one out of the red and leave two in the yellow.

She has a friend who marks his ties on the back with braille written tags.

For those in know braille these tags are an oval-shaped aluminum tag about one-eighth inch wide and the colors written out an abbreviated form. These tags are easily sewn on and can be gotten through the American Foundation for the Blind, East 15, W. 11th St., New York City, N.Y. (This info thanks to Eileen Doyle of Milford.)

Another suggestion made was to arrange closets and drawers up in the order of the color spectrum. in the drawers (especially for socks) using boxes as dividers can help for locating things both quickly and easily.

Well, It seems pretty clear to me after speaking with the lease on that if you are inclined to be slept with your scrambled dresser drawers and bulging closets the said proof of it, you better take care of the eyes the Lord gave you.

Milford Polished-Marble
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originally published 1982 to 1985 in the Milford Citizen newspaper
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