A scholarship programme worth £8,000 has been launched to encourage disabled people to pursue a career in fashion. Leading online retail marketplace dedicated to adaptive and inclusive fashion Adaptitsta, has partnered with the British Academy of Fashion Design to spearhead this incredible opportunity.

The programme was conceived by Adaptista founder, Maria O’Sullivan-Abeyratne, who is herself disabled and has been launched to achieve meaningful change within the fashion industry by highlighting the need for representation and progression for disabled people within education and employment.

According to a House of Commons Briefing Paper published in February 2021 (“Support for disabled students in higher education in England”), the challenges facing disabled students are stark:

  • Disabled graduates are less likely to be in highly skilled employment or higher-level study at 61.8% compared to 73% of non-disabled graduates.
  • Disabled graduates are less successful in securing employment opportunities following graduation. “A survey of 2017/18 UK graduates, 15 months after finishing their course found that 53% of those with a known disability were in full-time work compared with 62% of those with no known disability”.
  • Graduates with a known disability tend to earn less than non-disabled students.“27% were earning less than £21,000 compared to 23% of those with no known disability. At the other end of the earnings spectrum, 24% of those with a known disability were earning £30,000 or more compared with 31% of other graduates.”

Adaptista leads with the mission of celebrating one of the largest, yet frequently underrepresented minority groups. This platform represents a hub of quality, fashion-forward brands that drive inclusive practices within their industry, offering innovative products ranging from beauty and fashion to home and lifestyle products – both tailored to people with disabilities and without. Adaptista was recently listed as one of the Vogue Business 100 Innovators, and the founder was acknowledged as one of the Small Business UK’s “F:entrepreneur #iAlso100” female entrepreneurs to watch in 2023..

The British Academy of Fashion Design believes that education should be accessible to all. Together they aim to generate accessibility and inclusivity for people with disabilities and this scholarship programme is a big step towards this goal.

The partnership has also attracted the interest of corporate support with John Lewis White City offering a top-of-the-range sewing machine and Includability, the inclusive job board, donating a year of membership to Adobe Creative Cloud and Microsoft 365 to the successful applicant, as well as supporting the student with career mentoring and advice.

Maria O’Sullivan-Abeyratne, founder and CEO, Adaptista commented: “At Adaptista we are passionate about inclusion, representation and education for the disabled community in an industry which has historically excluded such a large proportion of the world’s population. We are delighted to partner with such a forward-thinking educational body in the British Academy of Fashion Design and together give the opportunity for a disabled person to pursue their dream of working in fashion. United we hope this scholarship will also help drive meaningful change within the fashion industry by highlighting the need for representation and progression in both education and employment.”

Jane Gregory, CEO, British Academy of Fashion Design commented: “The British Academy of Fashion Design is committed to making accessibility a guiding principle of our organisation. One of the practical ways we do this is by actively seeking to recruit a diverse community of learners to build a more inclusive workforce in the British fashion design industry. We are privileged to work with Adaptista to establish this scholarship and to support this important mission now and into the future.“

How to apply
You can apply for this scholarship now by submitting a 500-word essay and mood board via the Adaptista website by 31 March 2023. Applicants must be over 18 years of age and there is no upper age limit. Full details of the programme including terms and conditions are available at: Adaptista.com/pages/scholarship-competition

Image by Lara Gonzalo from Pixabay 

Get your copy of PosAbility Magazine

Read more articles here