While there are many ‘specialty products’ out there, some companies have taken UDL (universal Design) and accessibility to heart.
More and more mainstream companies are considering different body types, but now they’re also starting to consider different body abilities with respect to donning and doffing clothes and shoes.
I have actually gone shopping with some parents to help them sort out the pros and cons of each type of shoe for their child’s AFO, SMO or Sure Step.
Getting shoes on and off does not have to be an ordeal of pushing and shoving the heel down, or to torque the lower leg at just the right angle to slide the back of the shoe on.
I have identified a couple of user-friendly brands for parents and kids to use that are easy to get on and off, fashionable and mainstream (ergo, the cost is not inflated as it is for other specialty items like socks!!).
I’m sure there are more that I still haven’t found out about!
- Plae Adaptive-Friendly Sneakers- easy to get on and off. Straight last fit. Nice pull tab in the back. Removable foot pads to allow for extra room. No heel rise.
- Ikki shoes for little ones who are toe walkers have a squeaky heel that gives auditory feedback to children who can strike with their heels. If the sound is driving you nuts, or if your child starts to ambulate with a foot flat or heel-toe gait pattern, you can simply slide a small disc and turn the valve off.
- Smart fit sneakers are wide, have a straight last, and are flexible. They come in regular styles and high tops.
- Nike Flyease - Nike has been producing sneakers with a variety type of end-users in mind. They have truly come up with some great styles that can accommodate AFO’s but also accommodate a child who has motor limitations in their hands due to weakness or spasticity. Great pull straps to make donning and doffing shoes an independent ADL skill! Nike obviously has someone on staff who is thinking about Universal design, which turns out to be cool!
- Billy footwear has been around for a while and has a variety of styles and designs. They’re priced a little higher than some sneakers but I will vouch for the durability of this product.
- Don’t discard Payless, Walmart and Target!
I hope I gave you some leads that can make your life easier.
You may just be starting this journey or you may have some great ideas for other parents as well about these types of finds.
The shoes described here are just a few examples of shoes that can solve the problem of the extra girth and dexterity that is required for an AFO wearer, with the hope that if designers create a good product, it should be accessible to everyone. Right?!?
Looking to make this world better for us all.