Ligia Andrade Zuniga
Ligia, has a spinal cord injury that left her paralyzed from the chest down and her elbows down. Because of these mobility challenges, she needs help putting on and taking off her clothing for which reason a one piece item such as a dress was a practical option. Ligia is looking to celebrate her disability by wearing a bright and colorful garment. She mentioned that she is Latina and color is very important to her and her culture.
Ligia's Experience with the Project
Why are you interested in this opportunity? (How did you hear about it? What excited you about the experience?)
I learned about this opportunity through a good friend of mine Maisoon Alghethy. I was excited about this opportunity because of the lack of representation of women of color with disabilities like spinal cord injuries that use power chairs in fashion. representation and visibility is important!
Briefly describe your disability and what accessibility needs you may have to participate in this project.
II have a high cervical spinal cord injury with low function in my arms and no function in my hands. I am completely paralyzed from the chest down. Because my injury is high cervical, I have no ability to regulate my body temperature making me more comfortable in sweaters, longsleeved garments, monk or turtlenecks, high collars, scarves, shawls, ponchos, blazers, vests vests, boots, etc. My arms are very weak so it a lot more comfortable to wear things that are easy to move in. My power chair has a molded backrest making somewhat difficult to where things that are too bulky. Because I am sitting, tops, jackets, pants, and skirts have to be modified accordingly. I wear a leg bag which I keep very discreetly, it's not always necessary to wear long pants and long dresses. As long as I have a way to hide the bag stuffed into another bag or something I am okay. I have also wrapped it with a scarf. I can provide as many adapted solutions I have created if possible. Garments with a little bit of a stretch are also helpful.
How would you like the apparel design students to help you celebrate your disability?
To celebrate my disability I usually wear lots of bright colors and incorporate some sort of sensuality to accentuate my personality as a woman of color with a disability. Always being "put together" and "chic" shows the world that women with disabilities are to be admired, celebrated, and that we also come in all shapes, sizes, shades, and disabilities.
Design Team: Angela Flores, Karina Alvarado and Olivia Floyd
Team Describes Their Designs for Ligia
Our model, Ligia, has a spinal cord injury that left her paralyzed from the chest down and her elbows down. Because of these mobility challenges, she needs help putting on and taking off her clothing for which reason a one piece item such as a dress was a practical option. We opted to use knitwear as the stretch it has relative to woven fabrics will facilitate putting on and removing the piece and means not having to use buttons or zippers that could press on Ligia too much as these could cause pressure ulcers. Ligia does not have control of her body temperature which is another reason we found knitwear to be the right material to use, as it will help keep her warm. Lastly, Ligia is looking to celebrate her disability by wearing a bright and colorful garment. She mentioned that she is Latina and color is very important to her and her culture. Knowing this, we would like to design something with really bright colors that does not hide her disability but rather celebrates her ability.
This project was such a lovely experience for us designers. It was great getting to work with our model and designing for her needs and aesthetics as it pushed us to design beyond our own personal aesthetics and taught us valuable team and collaboration skills!
Designs for Ligia
Design Team: Cassandra Cueva and Ethan Johnson
My name is Cassandra Cueva, and I am a junior at San Francisco State University studying apparel design and merchandising. My partner Ethan and I had the opportunity of working with Ligia Andrade Zuniga, an elected official for The San Mateo Union High School District Board of Trustees. She identifies as a woman of color (LatinX) with a disability, having sustained a spinal cord injury in 2009, she has paralysis from the chest and elbows down.
As an elected official and someone who loves bright colors and bold prints, for Ligia, versatility is of the utmost importance. Her overall style is formal, explaining that she likes to get dressed up whenever possible though she's drawn to signature pieces that can be worn in both formal and casual settings. So, for her garment, we took the design of a classic single-breasted blazer and added a scalloped hemline with floral embroidery for a more personalized touch.
In terms of garment adaptations, Ligia noted that her disability affects her body temperature control, so she is always cold. This largely impacted our decision to design a jacket, to ensure extra warmth for our fabric, we selected a wool base with a silk lining. She additionally explained that it is important that the garment is easy to remove and put on, prompting us to include the design of magnetic buttons and a looser-fitted sleeve.