Scribely Stories: Natalie Trevonne
When you meet the ebullient Natalie Trevonne, don’t ask her what she does – the real question is, what doesn’t she do? The multi-faceted actress, dancer, writer, and fashion/entertainment accessibility consultant spans genres in a tireless crusade to make creative content and fashion available to all. A spirited champion of disability awareness on social media, on the stage, and at the podcast mic, she’s “super passionate about providing opportunities for the blind and low vision community and advocating for more representation [where] there's really none.”
With accolades that include the Disability Film Challenge’s Best Actress of 2021, plus experience as a marketing and outreach coordinator for Blind Institute of Technology, writer for PopSugar, and member of the Infinite Flow Dance Company, Trevonne has the expertise of a fierce leader.
“I think a lot of being blind is exploration. We call it structure discovery, and that's just feeling your way through,”
she says of her return to dance. And that notion of tactile inquiry clearly informs her advocacy. In her role as host of the podcast Fashionably Tardy, she and her co-host, Lissa Loe, are all about “bridging the gap between the disability community and the fashion industry.” On the podcast and on her personal platforms, Natalie is vocal about the need for greater inclusivity, even if her personal style makes clear that she’s not one to let exclusion stifle her own style. “I think that there's this stereotype or misconception that people with disabilities are not interested in fashion and that they're not the ones responsible for buying their own clothes, so they don't really think about us in that way,” Trevonne says. But she continues,
“When you make accessibility a priority, you increase your bottom line. Not only should you think about accessibility because it matters, but also, you're hurting your business by not including millions of people that could be participating or buying from you.”
So what does accessibility in fashion look like to Trevonne? Whether on retail sites or social media, it starts with the basics: things like detailed image descriptions, labeled links and buttons, integrated alt text, and automatic video captioning. It extends to audio descriptions at the Met Gala and clothing descriptions on shows like Emily in Paris, as well as red carpet breakdowns on Fashion Tik Tok. And Trevonne is on the front lines, calling out gaps in accessibility on social media, consulting with brands, and rallying others to join her. As prolific as she is, Trevonne is adamant that it’s time to go beyond the bare minimum and work toward meaningful progress as a collective. In her opinion, "There needs to be more of us in the room, period. You're including focus groups with people with disabilities, you're talking to consultants with disabilities, you're getting real user testing, and you're saying, ‘Hey, does this work?’”
Cues from the past lend her confidence and insight into the movement for inclusivity.
“We know that the first typewriter was created for a blind woman who wanted to write a letter. And now look where we are. We have computers, we have iPhones, and it all started from somebody wanting to be accessible. So, I just think that when companies choose to be accessible from the very beginning, that automatically sets their business up for success.”
With history and humanity on her side, Trevonne is only gaining momentum. And she’ll keep going until we finally reach a place of
“...real inclusion [where] people with disabilities are included in every step of the process and accessibility is not an afterthought.”