Finding accessible shoes for kids with special needs can be a real challenge, but just look at how functional (and fun) these shoes are!
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Recently, I saw a mum’s post on Facebook go viral about finding accessible shoes that worked over her daughter’s leg braces. And judging by the comments that flowed in, this is an issue faced by many parents. Looking at how cute these sneakers are, we wanted to find out more about these fun shoes for kids with special needs.
In her post, Nicole Goodwin Hubert says:
“Special needs moms: I’m so excited about these shoes I just found Laura at Nordstrom! They are “Billy” brand. Where have these been all my life?! Unbelievably easy to get on over braces! She got the lavender and the gray high tops. So cute too!”
And she’s right, these sneakers are really cute. I love that they are colourful and enticing, rather than something dull and boring! The most interesting part of the story is that these shoes are actually for everyone – the fact that they are accessible is just an added bonus!
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Adapted Shoes for Kids With Special Needs
The key design feature that makes these shoes accessible is the zipper that goes along the side of the shoes and around the toe, allowing the upper of each shoe to open and fold over completely.
This means that the wearer can place his or her foot onto the shoe footbed unobstructed. Then with a tug on the zipper-pull, the shoe closes and secures over the user’s foot. The simplicity of this means that they are easy to put on, and also easy for others to put on for you if needed.
We also love that you can buy mismatched size shoes, as well as from toddler up to adult men’s sizes.
Customers who use Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFOs) have had a lot of success with the Billy Footwear range, but it is not a total guarantee. However, the brand has announced that they will be launching a shoe design in 2020 that is specifically designed for wearing with braces. The shoes are based on customer feedback and will be wider, deeper, and have an internal lining that is tear resistant.
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What’s the Background?
Billy Footwear is the brainchild of two Seattle locals, Darin Donaldson and Billy Price. In 1996, co-founder Billy broke his neck after a three-storey fall and became paralyzed from the chest down.
As a result, he lost the ability to move much of his body, including his fingers. Not only did he suddenly face mobility challenges, but daily tasks became much more difficult. And none more so than shoes – he never found a pair that he felt were both attractive and that he could put on independently.
Billy and Darin created a prototype and launched a Kickstarter campaign – and now their universally accessibly footwear brand is available worldwide. While Billy was the initial beneficiary, the pair wanted to deliver mainstream shoes that are inclusive for everyone.
Billy Footwear is available in the US through select Nordstrom, Kids Shoe Locker and independent stores, as well as online through numerous retailers. International customers can buy directly from Billy Footwear.
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Would shoes like this make life easier in your house? Do you have any other recommendations of shoes for kids with special needs? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!