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Fashion Without Borders

By Ben Webber

A company with a focus on disability will soon begin work to help AUT further engage in accessibility discussion.

Grace Stratton is an AUT student and the co-founder of All is for All, an e-commerce platform that has redefined the shopping experience for people with disabilities. The website uses assistive technology including a specialised search engine, detailed alt-text and imagery that incorporates disabled models.

Stratton told Debate the platform defines the locations of zips and buttons and can also describe colour.

The website allows people who are blind, neuro diverse and/or use wheelchairs to shop with ease.

Whilst Stratton’s business is an accessibility success story, she says she “didn’t have many options” when picking a New Zealand university to suit her requirements as a person with a disability.

“I couldn’t really go to Auckland Uni because it’s so old and the campus is so big … and I couldn’t really go to Wellington because it’s on a hill and I’m not going to Otago because that’s too far away from home."

For Stratton, AUT was the obvious choice when it came to accessibility, but she says it’s the university’s culture that was also really important to her.

“Beyond tangible accessibility, beyond ramps and all that kind of stuff, the staff and their attitude and the tone that AUT has as a university is really naturally compassionate."

Stratton says, however, that there is always room for improvement.

“You can be the best of the best but you're always going to have a way to go.

“All is for All, my business, is doing a bit of work with AUT and we're hoping to help them to engage even more with the accessibility discussion, especially as it pertains to young people, so that's really exciting for us.”

Stratton says the nature of accessibility is such that needs are always changing and that universities will always have new young people coming through the doors with different requirements.

“AUT is very responsive, but it can sometimes be hard to do that all the time, so hopefully by working with AUT in the future, we make it a little easier for them to engage with the accessibility discussion, especially as it changes over time.”

Stratton says in general it’s important to remember that people with disabilities aren’t one homogenous group and that each person’s level of functionality or impairment is different and requires a different response.

“We carry preconceived notions about a lot of different people and I think it's being self-aware and thinking about how we can have better conversations or rethink what we've been taught because a lot of this stuff that we think that we know isn't actually representative."

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