Posted: February 22, 2016
In what is becoming a great recurring theme in the past few months, another retailer has stepped up and embraced the needs of parents of children who are facing challenges. As LEGO and doll makers have stepped up to meet the demand of toys that reflect a spectrum of special needs, a clothing line in the UK is answering the bell for parents looking for options.
Marks and Spencer is a major British clothing retailer that produces clothing, home products and high-end food products. One blogger describes the chain as a mix between Macy’s and Target, helping in signifying the importance of their recent efforts for the special needs community.
Inspired by a letter from a grandmother to a child with Cerebral Palsy, Marks and Spencer has introduced a new line of clothing intended for children with special needs. While clothing intended for children with CP or other conditions has existed at a smaller scale through niche stores or web-retailers, what makes Marks and Spencer’s effort important is two critical components: widespread availability and accessible pricing. Where the grandmother in question cited similar clothes would cost “up to £12 each ($17-$18 USD) for a vest,” the offerings from Marks and Spencer will sell at a price between £3 and £7 ($4-$10 USD).
Cynics may see this element as nothing more than a business creating a product to meet an existing demand. We prefer to look at this, instead, as a measure of inclusion. Target’s choice to include Christine’s Cart in nearly all of its store is a step forward in inclusion; the retailer has taken a step to provide parents of children the necessary bridge to be able to shop with others and not be limited in options like shopping due to their child’s special needs.
It’s not all too unreasonable to see these moves as a sign of big business opening new areas of opportunity for the special needs community. As accessibility becomes more than just a legal requirement but, instead, an element of social consciousness for businesses, children and parents benefit. Through inclusion, those with disabilities and/or special needs are no longer “out of sight, out of mind” but, instead, a part of everyday society. When those with special needs are a visible part of daily activities for the rest of the community, exclusion and defunding become a more difficult process for those who are not interested in equality.
CerebralPalsy.org is happy to cheer on these efforts by Marks and Spencer and hope that the actions taken by Target, LEGO and others become more of the norm and less of a ‘news story.’ When these actions become a memo at the front door of a local business and not a story worthy of international attention, true progress will have been made.