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Disability-Friendly Products Are Hard To Find. Here's How Target, Nike, and Others Are Making It Easier.

From clothing to home goods, these 7 brands are making adaptive products you can buy right now.

Weeks ago, a Target ad for Halloween costumes popped up on my phone. It featured a masked boy dressed as Batman, fist raised triumphantly in the air, modeling the costume with his walker. 

 

Naturally, I tapped on the ad and discovered that Target actually has an entire line of adaptive Halloween costumes — including mermaids, princesses, dragons, pirates, superheroes, and even Darth Vader. 

 

The costumes, which are part of Target’s Hyde & EEK! Boutique, are thoughtfully designed with features like velcro closures at the back for easy dressing, hidden openings for abdominal access, and wheelchair-friendly fits. Prices range from $25-35, which is on par with the rest of Target’s costumes. 

 

Today, Target is among only 4% of businesses that are actively creating products for people with disabilities. Here’s a closer look at Target’s offerings, as well as six more brands that are making disability-friendly products:

1. Target

Halloween costumes aren’t the only disability-friendly products you’ll find in Target Stores. The brand, which has included people with disabilities in its advertising for more than 25 years, has several different lines of accessible and inclusive designs you’ll want to check out.

 

For kids, there’s Cat & Jack adaptive apparel, which includes shirts with abdominal access, and diaper-friendly pants. There are also pajamas with snap closures at the shoulder, coats with thumbhole cuffs to keep sleeves in place, and snowpants with full side-zips that make getting dressed easier for everyone. 

Image credit: Target

Then there’s the Pillowfort line for sensory-friendly furniture like a unicorn bean bag chair or a comfy desk chair that allows kids to rock while they read or do homework. 

 

And for adults, Target also sells men’s and women’s adaptive clothing like a puffer vest with side snaps, and on-trend bootcut jeans with zippers at the ankles for extra room.

2. Nike

If you watched the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, you might have spotted Nike’s new FlyEase sneakers on the medal stand. 

 

At first glance, they look like a springy, slip-on running shoe. What you don’t see is that the FlyEase features a hands-free design to accommodate all athletes. The laceless sneakers have an innovative hinge that allows you to simply step into the shoe to put them on. To take them off, all you have to do is stand on the heel and lift your foot out. 

Image credit: Nike

Instead of straps or laces, Nike’s FlyEase shoes have a tensioner that allows them to snap on to the wearer’s feet without having to use their hands. This is convenient not only for busy Olympians but also for people who have difficulty bending over, tying laces, or otherwise adjusting their shoes.  

 

“As we continue to push the limits of not only making athletes better, we also need to push the limits in terms of allowing all athletes to wear our product,” says Richard Ramsay, who helped design the FlyEase sneaker.  

 

Nike, which received criticism from the disability community for the shoe’s $120 price tag and limited quantity, has since released additional styles — including a more affordable $65 model. 

3. Tommy Hilfiger

In 2016, Tommy Hilfiger partnered with Runway of Dreams, a non-profit devoted to inclusive fashion, to design a collection of adaptive kids’ clothing. It was the first time a mainstream brand had ever created a line of clothing specifically for children with disabilities. 

 

Hilfiger told Vogue Business that his passion for adaptive design stems from the challenges his children with autism have faced getting dressed. 

 

Tommy Adaptive, which now includes clothing for men and women as well, features the same preppy designs the brand is known for with modifications that make getting dressed easier.

Image credit: Tommy Hilfiger

Polo shirts come with magnetic closures that look like traditional buttons but are a snap to close, and chinos have a hidden velcro fly and wide leg openings to accommodate leg braces, orthotics, and casts. 

 

But what stands out most about Hilfiger’s adaptive line is the impressive range of options. While many adaptive collections offer only a handful of items, Tommy Adaptive has hundreds of pieces to choose from, including denim jackets, jeans, sweatshirts, dresses, and popovers.

4. Kohls

Kohls has dozens of different brands under its umbrella, and several of them offer adaptive designs.

 

The kids’ collection has the largest selection. You’ll find sensory-friendly and accessible items from Jumping Beans, SO, and Urban Pipeline for boys and girls from toddler to teen. 

Four kids wearing Kohl's adaptive clothing
Image credit: Kohls

We especially like their graphic tees, which look just like a typical t-shirt but with clever features like a double-layer design for easy access to a g-tube or insulin pump. When designing their adaptive line, Kohls says that they “made every effort to ensure that the product looks as close to our core line as possible” and that “everything from graphic artwork to pocket detail is reflective of the brand”. 

 

Kohl’s is continuously adding products to its site, so it’s worth checking back often to see what’s new.

5. Steve Madden

When you think of adaptive shoes, “fashionable” probably isn’t the first word that comes to mind. However, Steve Madden intends to change all that with its line of adaptive kids’ shoes

 

This fall, the brand rolled out seven fashion-forward styles that cater to children with disabilities. The designs boast adaptive features like zippers with extra long pull tabs, elastic laces and heel, wider widths and removable insoles for extra room. (These sparkly high tops are reviewers’ top pick!) 

Image credit: Steve Madden

The need for cool, accessible kids’ shoes first came to Steve Madden’s attention when the team attended the Runway of Dreams fashion show in 2019. Since then, they’ve been conducting fit testing with kids with disabilities and their families in order to find ways to make their current styles accommodate a wider variety of needs.

6. Xbox

Accessibility is a core part of how Microsoft products are designed. So when it came to Microsoft’s attention that people with disabilities were having to hack together their own controllers in order to play their favorite games, the computer giant knew they needed to do better. 

 

With the help of the gaming and disability community, they designed an adaptive controller that helps make gaming more accessible for people with limited mobility.

xbox adaptive controller with buttons and joystick
Image credit: Microsoft

The Xbox Adaptive Controller (XAC) comes with two large programmable buttons and 19 jacks that can connect a range of assistive devices. Gamers can plug in switches, buttons, mounts, and joysticks to create a customized controller that meets their needs. At less than $100, the controller is deliberately priced low so that more gamers can have access.

 

Microsoft also developed the Xbox Accessibility Guidelines, a set of best practices for creating accessible games. In addition, gamers with disabilities are included in testing for new games.

7. Herbal Essences

While Herbal Essences is known for its iconic scents, you might not know that the hair care brand has also been working on making its products more inclusive.

 

In 2019, the brand quietly released new shampoo and conditioner bottles designed for people with visual impairments. Parent company Procter & Gamble says it is the first hair care brand in the US to feature an inclusive packaging design.

Image credit: P&G

P&G Accessibility Leader Sumaira Latif, who is blind, worked with other people with low vision to design the bottles. Latif explained that she used to put an elastic band around her shampoo bottles to help her remember which was which. 

 

In designing the new packaging, she says that “it was important that we invent a feature, a universally recognizable tactile feature, which would work for people who haven’t had the opportunity to learn braille.” The bottles feature tactile indentations — vertical lines on the shampoo, and dots on the conditioner — to help differentiate between the two. 

 

Which other products would you add to this list? Let us know on Facebook or LinkedIn

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