Durban fashion designer Balini Naidoo on creating a range of clothes for the visually impaired

The Emerging Creative 2018 wants to help visually-impaired people to become more self-reliant and independent when making clothing choices.

Part of the Project

When Balini Naidoo's uncle started gradually losing his eyesight, the fashion designer noticed the difficulty he faced when it came to choosing clothing and the lack of options for people like him. It made her want to do something.

“Having a family member who is visually impaired has made me aware of the many struggles that are faced by the unsighted. Some difficulties include daily clothing identification and clothing choices made without assistance,” she said

According to the South African National Council for the Blind, the prevalence of sight disability in South Africa is the highest of all disabilities with about 32 per cent of people living with the disability.

Women make up 57 per cent of the total number of blind or partially sighted people, while 23 per cent of visually impaired people fall between the ages of 15 and 36 years.

She said that she started researching how she can design a braille identification system for clothing to assist blind people in becoming more self-reliant and independent when choosing clothes. 

Her designs, which come in muted colours, help people identify what they're putting on using the braille identification system, which is printed on clothing. This also makes it easier for people who are visually impared to have some independence, for example, when choosing what to wear on a daily basis.

Part of this year's Design Indaba Emerging Creatives programme, Balini got to come to Cape Town from Durban and attend the Cape Town simulcast of the Design Indaba Conference 2018 as well as attend entrepreneurship workshops, mingle with possible collaborators and showcase her range.

"It was my love for fashion that led me onto the path of studying fashion design, and through it I have achieved numerous goals. I believe that what we do for ourselves dies with us, but what we do for others lives forever. My purpose is to debut into the beauty and fashion world by making a difference in a society where morals and integrity are at a decline."

She added: "Honesty, integrity, and charisma are words that best describe me, but strength, determination and diversity are values that are most reflected through my actions. I believe that the road ahead will open many doors of opportunities to serve humanity and impact nations."