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Fashioning attire for special needs...

EVER HAD a fractured leg or a hand in life? If yes, then, never should one ask you to relive the trauma of getting into your clothes or changing them daily, is not it? With a fat cast draped around the fractured area, it is understandable that managing day-to-day affairs like wearing one's dress becomes an exertion. But then, think of those who live life throughout with a permanent disability. For instance, how does a polio-affected or a wheel chair bound or let's say, a spastic manage the basic need of getting clothed everyday. Not many have someone at their beck and call.

"It's an ordeal most disabled people go through everyday due to lack of proper dresses available in the market which would suit their specific needs," says Delhi-based Dr. Kamal Saxena. Having armed herself with a fashion designing degree, she along with her husband, Dr. Sanjeev Saxena and a pool of fellow doctors have now plunged into "translating their medical qualifications into fashion technology to engineer clothes for people with confined mobility." And the result is a fashion show to be held as part of the Goodlife Show at Pragati Maidan later this week.

A noble endeavour... "but it is not so rosy. It took us five years to come up to this position of being able to design outfits for people with different needs. Perhaps, the interaction with people with disabilities has kept us focused all through. They too want to dress up with dignity and not get into something which does look odd on them," says Kamal. Her husband narrates a story of a polio-affected child as to how he never wanted to go to school wearing his cal pins, as his fellow mates would call him handicapped.

After much research, the Saxenas, under the banner of "Solace", have come out with garments and undergarments for polio-affected, wheelchair-bound, spastics, elderly people and even those with temporary disabilities like a fractured leg or a hand, etc with facilities to go well with their requirements. Though they have a design studio at Block 2, Dakshin Puri, they are at present, trying to market their clothes through non-governmental organisations working in the sector.

"Slowly, we would like to rope in big garment brands through whom the outfits could be made easily available. But, that is a distant dream," says middle-aged Sanjeev. Next in the pipeline are road safety tools, toiletries and special utensils for the disabled.

The couple say they are now trying to spread the news that a person with such needs no more feel left out as far as comfortable, good-looking dresses are concerned, "for, there is always an answer." And hence, the fashion show.

Let's hope our fashion designers take a cue.

SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY

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