Adaptive Design Takes Off on Runway of Dreams

February 8, 2021 | Duke Arts

Engineering meets innovation and accessibility in virtual adaptive fashion show featuring people with disabilities

Laurie Aman is a paraplegic woman and Sadie Obana was born with one hand

Laurie Aman (left) is a paraplegic woman and Sadie Obana (right) was born with one hand. Both are models in the "Coming Together, Creating Change" fashion show.

We all have that one outfit that makes us feel unstoppable. Maybe it’s a power suit, a little black dress, a comfortable pair of jeans, or the most supportive running shoes. Whatever it is, clothing has a direct impact on how we feel and how we express ourselves. Unfortunately, however, mainstream clothing can present challenges that prevent people with disabilities from having choice in what they show up to the world wearing.

To solve this problem, fashion meets engineering, innovation and accessibility.

"I became consumed with the idea of creating innovations that would give people with disabilities autonomy while dressing themselves and the ability to feel confident in what they’re wearing."

Emma Steadman ('22), an undergraduate mechanical engineering major in Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering, co-founded and is president of Runway of Dreams at Duke, an affiliate of the national nonprofit foundation Runway of Dreams. In collaboration with the Runway of Dreams chapter at North Carolina State University, she is co-hosting the premiere of "Coming Together, Creating Change," a virtual adaptive fashion show Thursday, February 11, at 7 p.m., on Facebook. The show will feature models who have a variety of disabilities and range in ages 3-36, who are strutting down their own personal runways from across the country.

Read more about this innovative design work to improve accessibility and people's lives at Duke Arts.