Science and Fashion Go Hand and Hand at the Assistive Technology Clothing Design

By: Javier Rodriguez

The Open Style Lab debuted their final clothing designs to the public at the Museum of Science during the Boston Fashion Week. The OSL, founded by Grace Teo and Alice Tin, is a 10-week program run by the MIT Assistive Technology Club. The goal is to create clothing solutions for people with disabilities with the help of designers, engineers, and occupational therapists.

Students who participate in this lab are placed in 8 teams. Each team consists of 3 student roles: designer, engineer, and an occupational therapist, 3 mentor roles: designer, engineer, and an occupational therapist, and 1 client. On the day the event took place 2 teams were present and showcasing their designs at the Museum of Science, Team Ryan and Team Angie.

Team Ryan had Ryan DeRoche as their client. DeRoche is quadriplegic and uses a wheelchair to get around.  He is suffering from a spinal cord injury and has issues with temperature regulation. DeRoche wanted a jacket that was easy to put on and easy to take off. He also wanted the jacket to be able to protect him from the rain because with his disabilities and the injury that he has he is at high rick of getting pneumonia. Before he worked with the Open Style Lab it took him at least 5 minutes to get his jacket on, now it only takes him half the time, or less. The jacket also protects him from the rain. DeRoche is very happy with the final design.

The other team present to debut their designs was Team Angie. Team Angie had Angie Shyre as their client. Shyre is a singer-songwriter, violinist and pianist. She has early onset arthritis. It affects her hands, wrists, hips and knees which makes side zippers and back zippers on her dresses difficult to zip up. Team Angie showcased multiple of their designs at the Museum of Science. The dresses looked beautiful and were brilliantly designed to help Angie put on her dress without a problem. According to Tara Ebsworth, the engineer for team Angie, Shyre loved the dresses and plans to wear one for one of her musical performances.

Indeed, the Open Style Lab’s debut showed how people with diverse talents and skills can join forces to create attire that is practical for disabled people, while also being aesthetically pleasing.

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