Istanbul Technical University's (İTÜ) Universal Textile Design Center was recently inaugurated with a ceremony overseen by Emine Erdoğan, the First Lady of Turkey, and İTÜ Chancellor Mehmet Karaca. Speaking at the ceremony, Erdoğan stressed her support for the textile design center for disabled people. "This is the first time in Turkey that a center such as this has opened. God willing, the center will produce fabrics and design clothes to make life easier for disabled people," she said. Stating that the initiative of the İTÜ is a result of the history of the university and its 200 years of technical accumulation, Erdoğan said the foundation of this center is an important step for universal textile design, which is a new trend in textile manufacturing. "Actually, ‘universal design' means ‘design for everyone.' According to this view people who are affected by obstacles are not only limited to those who are disabled. Everyone experiences limitations during their infancy and childhood. Many people might experience limitations due to pregnancy, old age or traffic accidents; hence, this center addresses a large part of the society," Erdoğan said. She stressed that the projects the center will undertake to make life easier for disabled people are encouraging, and İTÜ's initiative will enable disabled people to wear comfortable and aesthetically pleasing clothes. Erdoğan also wished that this center will set an example for other organizations, and said the concept of universal design should become widespread in every segment of the society.
The 180-square-meter İTÜ Universal Textile Design Center contains state-of-the-art technology, and was established to produce samples for various branches of the textile industry from fabrics to clothing. The center features knit fabric, textile finishing and chemical testing laboratories along with a textile design and ready-wear workshop. The center will manufacture and design comfortable and aesthetically pleasing clothing that can be easily used and washed by disabled people. The center will also produce smart textile products intended for the disabled and people with special needs, and it will also create the necessary research environment, as the center is equipped with the latest technology. Moreover, the center will be able to measure people's sizes with 3-D body scanning technology. Testing for comfort and quality of the fabrics and clothes will also be conducted at the center.