Two Industrial Design students from Carleton University have won an Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA) student competition award from Universities Canada.

Liana Meere and Mandy Hui took top honours in the competition’s Attitudinal/Systemic barriers category for their concept Closet, a label system that enables people with visual disabilities to independently manage their clothes.

“The Carleton community is incredibly proud of Liana and Mandy in being recognized by Universities Canada for their innovation and dedication towards enhancing accessibility standards,” says Larry Kostiuk, dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Design. “Their achievement adds to Carleton’s long-running success at the IDeA student competition and reflects our School of Industrial Design’s strong emphasis on inclusive and accessible design practices, as well as Carleton’s commitment to accessibility within the university’s Strategic Integrated Plan.”

The IDeA student competition challenges university students across Canada to use their creativity to develop innovative, cost-effective and practical solutions to accessibility barriers for people with disabilities.

According to the award proposal, many people rely heavily on vision to choose and differentiate clothes. For people with visual disabilities, this task is more difficult. With varying degrees of visual impairment, there is a need for an accessible solution that empowers those with visual disabilities to confidently manage their wardrobe independently.

The team of Meere and Hui identified three key challenges the visually disabled face when managing their wardrobe: identifying colours, matching clothes and reading wash label instructions.

The team’s market research revealed that several products exist to help address these issues, but are seldom adopted by the people they were intended to help. Further research showed that the existing products are not reliable, troublesome to use and rarely address all three challenges.

Meere and Hui developed their label and app system called Closet to better tackle the challenges their research identified. The resulting concept is a two-part system involving both a clothing label and a compatible app. The labels will be created during manufacturing and will include both braille and a QR code to provide access to clothing information using a mobile device.

Carleton Industrial Design Grads Win Top Prize in Accessible Design Competition

A design concept for the Closet app

The award submission also notes that Closet encourages clothing manufacturers to practise accessible design and places assistive tools at the fingertips of users. The simple label design allows people who can see and read braille to quickly identify their clothes. The Closet app also enables people with visual impairments to distinguish garment colours and pair items up, saving combinations in scans. With characteristics and care information all in one place, people of all visual abilities can access accurate information about their clothing to carry out this everyday task independently.

A story about this year’s winners and their prototypes can be found here:

Media Contact
Steven Reid (he/him)
Media Relations Officer
Carleton University

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Wednesday, July 21, 2021 in
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