Hey everyone! It’s time to wrap up our Spotlight on Accessibility — not that we’ll stop considering accessibility in what we do or amplifying the voices of those who champion accessibility. Thank you to everyone for joining us through this exploration. There’s definitely been a lot to learn and many stories to share, so let’s get this round-up started!
First, I’d like to start off with a few actionable items for both the community and businesses. Even though this Accessibility deep-dive on the blog is over, we are still responsible for, first and foremost, listening, creating space, AND making sure everyone is included. We understand that not all of the following things apply to everyone, but here are some things to consider:
- Make captions for videos.
- Use Alt Text on images.
- Use hashtags with each word capitalized #JustLikeThisExample.
- Have patterns with pictures of models in a seated position (or if you sew the pattern, include a seated position photo).
- Include more fitting options/tips for people with different types of disabilities.
- For sewing machine companies, identify machines that can be used through other means (such as automatic features).
- List if your brick and mortar shop is wheelchair accessible.
- Add an accessible option to your site/list ways in which your product is accessible. Can your pattern be put on while sitting down? Does your shirt include a hack that helps with arm mobility? These are important things to know and should be at the forefront of your mind when designing/selling your product.
- Include more disabled brand ambassadors and collaborate with disabled creators.
- Label fabric you sell with an info card (which lists things such as fiber content, length bought, fabric weight, and other potentially useful things).
- Be transparent and accountable. Mistakes happen, especially when we’re learning, and they’re part of our journey/growth. It’s important to show how you made a mistake, what you learned, and steps you’re taking to rectify it so that it doesn’t happen again in the future.
Alright! Now let’s move on to our contributors/interviewees.
Our contributors/interviewees this month were: Sarah Hill, Michelle Mason, Anissa M., and Pippa White! Here’s what they talked about:
- Sarah Hill talks about being diagnosed with Lupus, how she uses her sewing to practice self-love and mindfulness, and sewing for a new body. The entire post can be found here and her username on Instagram is @meinthemeantime.
- Michelle Mason was interviewed about sewing with ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis). She list ways in which she makes her sewing more accessible, changes she’d like to see in the community, and the aspects of sewing that bring her joy. The blog post can be found here and Michelle’s alias on Instagram is @michebemason.
- Anissa M writes for the Sewcialists series Who We Are: D/deaf/Hard of Hearing Sewist (Repost from 2019). In this feature, she gives tips for better communicating with someone who is D/deaf/hard-of-hearing as well as give some tips for how to caption your videos! Full blog post here. She is also on Instagram and goes by the username @askinacollection.
- Pippa White talks about sewing with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). Some of the things mentioned in this post are how she got started sewing, accommodations she’s made that help, and some of her favorite projects. The post can be found here and she can be found on Insta by the username @SewPippa.
Next up: some members of the current Sewcialists Team!
- Renee (pictured first) and Gillian (pictured second) talk about crafting with painful arms and hands. The full post is here. They even have a handy list of ergonomic sewing tools, which are helpful for those hoping to prevent RSI issues from developing, as well as for those who deal with them already! There’s also a lot of tips in the comments section, so also have a look there!
- Brianna writes about how her journey with ADHD, fibromyalgia, and sewing are all intertwined. She also talks about using rebellion and letting go of what society finds to be an acceptable “good sewist” to find joy and healing.
- Chloe (pictured above) also wrote a post about patterns designed with accessibility in mind, which can be found here. She didn’t find much in the way of easily finding patterns marked with an accessible tag; however, she does mention two pattern makers who did just that. There’s also link to other sites which may be helpful to sewists with a disability.
Brianna, Samantha, and Abi were all featured on the Sew Organized Style Podcast (all of which can either be found here or through your normal podcast media apps)! Here’s a little introduction as to what was mentioned:
- Brianna talks about sewing with fibromyalgia and ADHD.
- Samantha shares ways she found to make her sewing more accessible her needs.
- Abi, a founder of Sew Enabled, creates discussion of ways the community can be more inclusive for sewists with disabilities.
We also had a lot of people in the community share their tips on how they make their sewing more accessible (the Instagram post can be found here and the blog post here). Here are a few things mentioned:
- The use of screen filters! It could range anywhere from a yellow tint filter to help with migraines to using low vision filters on a computer screen.
- Using a sewing machine with a knee lift. This raises and lowers the foot of your sewing machine, and is operated with your knee instead of your hands.
- Washing/drying your fabric instead of pressing it before use! That way it’s all nice and crisp (and more ergonomic/energy saving too!)
- A clip on lamp for your sewing machine to aid with visibility.
- Using the Start/Stop button on a machine!
… And that’s it for this round-up! Every one of us has different accessibility needs (and they can even vary from one day to the next) so there are infinitely more possible aspects of accessibility that we haven’t touched on, so we hope the community stays engaged in learning and growing together!
Hello! My name is Chris and I currently live in San Diego, CA. You can find me @Imthatbrujastitch on Instagram where I post all of my makes.
I would like to put in a plug also for accessible websites. I have had people actually berate me for making sure my knitting website was accessible, as if the young and sharp were the only ones allowed an activity that they themselves associated with old ladies 🙄. Still, no matter how accessible your product, if you make it hellish to get to it people are less likely to take you seriously.
But without nitpicking about motivation, it’s true that standards are murky, and multiple, and that it’s hard to know what’s enough. Still, there are easy ways to get close to the goal – most of the web is WordPress, if you just pick an accessible template you’re most of the way there already. Also, much of the rest is getting your info organized properly, and being able to prioritize its presentation. But you know what? People without any disability whatsoever also appreciate well-organized websites. And the effort you put in up front to clarify everything for accessibility purposes pays off hugely when you get to the inevitable overhaul, which will be much less painful.
So don’t think of the work classified under “accessibility” as a huge effort added on top for the benefit of a small subset of your clientele. In fact it’s almost entirely work you should be doing for everyone’s benefit, most of all your own, and which will end up the most rewarding.
thank you for the thoughtful comment. You’re so right, the goal should be a well designed website which falls within the W3C Web Content Accessibility guidelines, as this benefits everybody. (Sue and the Sewcialists Team)
This series was an eye opener, and I have MS and wasn’t aware of many of the issues discussed. Thank you, Sewcialists always makes me think and question.
that is so good to hear Ellen! Thank you. (Sue and the Sewcialists Team)