Talking Web site eyes fashion for the blind

ROME, July 13 Fri Jul 13, 2007 2:50pm EDT

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ROME, July 13 (Reuters) - Two American students are launching a new talking Web site that helps blind people pick and buy trendy clothing that is fitted with braille tags and then sent to their doorstep.

The sound-activated www.whitecanelabel.com Web site, due to go online in the fall, will ask users what their fashion likes and dislikes are and recommend clothes ranging from casual to evening wear based on those preferences.

A braille tag that includes the designer's name, type of clothing such as a "blouse" or a "t-shirt", size, color and symbols to help in piecing together certain look like "business casual" is attached to the clothes ordered and then mailed out.

"The central point is to give blind and visually impaired people more independence in choosing their clothing," co-founder Asmah Abushagur said during Rome's summer fashion week where the initiative was launched.

"If someone wants say, a black business suit, then we can help them put that together."

The Rochester Institute of Technology students say they stumbled on the idea after discovering the difficulties blind people have in picking an outfit to wear and having to rely on family and friends for it.

So far, the main methods used are metal tags or attaching different numbers of clothes pins or slits to outfits to indicate various colors.

"It started off as a school project, you know, how can I get an 'A'?" said co-founder Jaimen Brill. "But then we saw the options blind people have."

Though the venture is a non-profit effort and is asking designers to donate clothes, the outfits will be sold at retail prices to prevent shoppers who are not blind from using the Web site to take advantage of a good bargain.

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