MS Patients and Others with Disabilities Can Be Limited by Workplace Dress Codes, Researchers Say

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MS Patients and Others with Disabilities Can Be Limited by Workplace Dress Codes, Researchers Say

Clothing options for those with disabilities can interfere with the workplace.

Researchers at the University of Missouri found that a lack of appropriate clothing designed for people with disabilities, caused by accidents or chronic diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS), can be a barrier to participation and a sense of inclusion in the workplace.

Because workplace attire can be specific and and offer few options for employees who don’t fit “normal” body types, disabled workers can feel themselves at a disadvantage. Such limitations can affect their integration in the workplace, their sense of self-confidence, and increase their feelings of a stigma around their disability, the researchers said in a press release.

“People with disabilities are no different than any other consumer looking for clothing,” Kerri McBee Black, a university instructor and doctoral candidate in textile and apparel management, said in the release. “Consumers want clothing that expresses their sense of style. They want clothing that makes them feel confident. Unfortunately, the apparel industry has yet to sufficiently meet the demand for this population.”

McBee Black, together with an associate professor at  Missouri, Jung Ha-Brookshire, interviewed people with disabilities who had sought or were seeking employment to identify barriers faced in the workplace.

The team found that the lack of appropriate attire, regardless of the disability, was a common theme across the interviews.

One multiple sclerosis patient told the researchers that she searched for adaptive clothing that would accommodate her colostomy bag. She struggled to find options that made her feel attractive, and that lack of choices impacted her overall confidence.

Other participants reported similar challenges in finding work-appropriate clothing. In fact, the two researchers reported that people with disabilities often choose not to apply for certain jobs because they felt they cannot meet the expectations associated with the office dress code.

“Throughout the interviews we heard from participants that people living with disabilities want to work; yet, they experience public and self-stigma, both of which undermine their confidence,” McBee Black said.

Finding adaptive clothing isn’t easy. But an online search by Multiple Sclerosis News Today did find a few companies designing adaptive clothing lines and products that might help people living with disabilities. We cannot and do not recommend these lines, we simply note that they exist.

Read on: MS Patients and Others with Disabilities Can Be Limited by Workplace Dress Codes, Researchers Say

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