January 25, 2018
Art of Accessibility: Finding Empowerment Through Modeling
by Gabe Taylor
Looking to find a job here in the Springs, Alphie Omar began visiting The Independence Center’s (The IC) Employment department close to seven years ago. Over that time, he’s worked with Yvonne Bacher and Starr Vahsholtz to develop marketable job skills, update his resume, and to look for employment. After getting a little advice from Yvonne and Starr, he also earned a certificate in Microsoft Office from the Pikes Peak Work Force Center, then secured a data entry job. Yvonne tells me that “Alphie has incredible, incredible drive and has overcome enormous challenges.” Like many other men of his age, Alphie likes watching football, going bowling, visiting the park, and participating in various other activities in his free time. What makes Alphie different, is the fact he has no arms or legs, and has a learning disability.
This being the case, Alphie seemed like the perfect person to model in The Independence Center’s Art of Accessibility event. We started Art of Accessibility last year as a way to share the creative and artistic work of people with disabilities to the public. The event, which coincides with the First Friday Art Walk in downtown Colorado Springs, serves as a venue to display both traditional and performing art. Since starting Art of Accessibility, much focus has been placed on painting, drawing, and even dance. For the most recent Art of Accessibility though, we thought we would take a slightly different track by focusing on the design of clothing for, and modeling by, people with disabilities. The more traditional forms of art such as painting and drawing that have been displayed at previous Art of Accessibility events, were still present, but the fashion show was the headliner.
In the past, people with disabilities were forced to use the same clothing as everyone else, even if the clothing didn’t function well with their specific disability. In recent years, the need for clothing that fits better and is easier to use, has become a growing trend. Clothing and shoes can be given larger openings, Velcro can be used in place of zippers and buttons, and other modifications can greatly increase the accessibility of clothing for people with all types of disabilities.
On Friday, September 7th, several examples of these wonderful designs were on display for the community to see. Several individuals, including Alphie had the opportunity to show off their new outfits, which were purchased by The Independence Center with help from the Men’s Exchange and the Women’s Resource Center, and modified by a seamstress in Denver. The models showed off the various accessibility features, and had a great time in the process. If you or someone you know would like more information about Art of Accessibility, or about accessible clothing, visit us on the web at http://bit.ly/The-IC, or give us a call at 719-471-8181.