British vogue made strides in inclusiveness with the release of a Braille edition of the magazine’s latest issue.
The publication’s editor, Edward Enninful, said the publication’s “first” Braille issue is available from Thursday with an announcement on Instagram. “The Vogue team and I are delighted with the response to the May issue, but what the process of making has taught us is that what is most important is tangible and lasting change” , he wrote, noting that readers can now “send the audio file, to print a Braille file of the issue at your home for free, or to express interest in receiving a physical Braille copy.”
The historic accessibility features are accompanied by a disability-focused issue with actress Selma Blair on the cover. Other space advocates, including Aaron Rose Philip and Sinéad Burke, have also been featured in the magazine.
British Vogue did not respond to Yahoo Life’s request for comment. However, Enninful wrote more of his thoughts in the letter from the editor included in the issue. “Disability should feel personal to all of us,” he wrote. “The time has come for us to realize who we are as a society, and for fashion to build a better, more accessible and inclusive industry.”
Blind lawyers react
While there’s been no shortage of positive reactions to the announcement, including those calling it “groundbreaking,” Natalie Trevonne, NYI fashion brand CEO and blind designer and accessibility consultant, told Yahoo Life that “many many people talk about inclusion but I think they forget that inclusion includes accessibility.” She adds, “So the fact that they’re trying to create access for everyone to discover the content is a step forward.”
Kim Charlson, executive director of the Braille and Spoken Books Library at the Perkins School for the Blind, says this is a real game-changer, as fashion and design publications in particular lack accessibility.
“It definitely benefits the community and makes information available to us that other people probably take for granted,” she told Yahoo Life. “It just gives us access to trends, fashion and design that I don’t think the blind and visually impaired are particularly interested in. But that’s not true because we want to be sure we understand what other people are doing. . “
Trevonne also points out this misconception, sharing that she hopes an innovation like this will challenge those stereotypes.
“I mean people ask me all the time how come I’m so into fashion. It doesn’t make sense because everyone dresses up and most people want to have the look cute and stylish. And fashion is more of an expression of someone’s personality rather than just being something visual,” she explains. “So I think it starts there, they’re not going to think that we can access the documents, if they have already counted us as being interested.”
Virginia Jacko, blind president and CEO of Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired and a nationally recognized accessibility expert, also calls herself a “strong proponent of access” to this type of information.
“I love fashion and I would like to say I’m kind of a fashionista,” she told Yahoo Life. “It’s a sighted world. Sighted people have to accept the blind or visually impaired and people with disabilities. And people with disabilities have to learn how to integrate into a sighted world.”
Charlson jokes, “We don’t want to stand out because we wear, you know, chartreuse blouses in an old-school style, or whatever. So fashion is important.”
Whatever is inside British vogue specifically, she re-emphasizes the importance of any major publication exploring the process of producing a Braille magazine.
“Just like with a printed document or a magazine, you know, it has to be formatted correctly. You want it to look good and readable. So we care about the same kind of page aesthetics for braille as we do for the impression.” says Charlson, noting that image descriptions are of the utmost importance for people to be sure what they’re looking at. “You want some white space because it makes it easier to scan the braille page with your hands. And if there’s a blank line, then you know it’s either a section break or a paragraph. It therefore requires some intervention with some of the qualified people who can take the type of files and create Braille.”
While this example of access is a good start according to the three advocates, Trevonne anticipates more change within the magazine and elsewhere in the fashion industry.
“I just hope they move beyond that and start including more blind and visually impaired people on camera and in more fashion brand campaigns,” she says.
According to Enninful’s post, continued progress is the plan: “Vogue and the fashion and publishing industries still have a long way to go.”
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