for Online Shoppers
The spring 2021 capstone projects from students in the Global Fashion Management program (GFM) in the School of Graduate Studies focused on creating innovative solutions for fashion industry problems—such as becoming more inclusive and socially responsible through sensitive design and user interface. While the fashion industry welcomes an increasingly diverse customer base, retailers still have difficulty catering to one important segment of shoppers: the blind and visually impaired. As more retailers are moving solely online, it is becoming much more important to address the needs of these shoppers. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) dictates that a website’s performance and functionality meet these four descriptors:
- Perceivable: the media on a website is usable by all.
- Operable: the functionality of the website eliminates problems with access to the content.
- Understandable: the content is presented in a logical manner that allows users to reasonably follow.
- Robust: the website code is written in a manner that individuals with impaired functionality can read it.
Despite these requirements, a lack of consistency and complete information even in ADA-compliant sites presents a challenge for the visually impaired consumer. In addition, there are other considerations such as the packaging, instructions, and hangtag information once an individual receives their purchases.
Opsi, a capstone project by graduating students Emily Foster, Sara Hogan, and Gabriela Maldonado, is a full-service shopping support concept that facilitates online shopping for the blind and visually impaired. If created, Opsi would utilize voice commands to assist shoppers with shopping. The company would also receive items from retailers prior to them being sent to the purchaser, repackage them accessibly, incorporating hangtag and instruction information in Braille, and make other modifications to ensure the visually impaired shopper is able to enjoy their purchase.