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When we are growing up our parents and teachers give us guidance. People often debate the benefits of structure v self discovery. Good parents and good teachers give us both. We need enough parameters to get started and have some direction. However we also need space and time to understand ourselves. Our dreams, our likes, our strengths.

Only we can find our true self.

Once we leave education, work tends to replace this. We still have a building to go to, a boss giving us structure, and hopefully room to learn and develop.

In recent times this has changed. People work from home. People are self employed. People sometimes stop aspiring, stop learning, and stop developing. We feel it’s for younger people, and there are other ‘more pressing and urgent priorities’ at hand.

The reality is we are built to have aspirations. Jason Silva in his videos talks about how we have and do ‘want’ in an insatiable way. Without our constant curiosity, constant questioning, and constant progress; we sacrifice our core being.

I used to be very skeptical of life and career coaches. However as I’ve got older — without the educational parameters, without the guidance, without the direction — I’ve come around to the benefits of having this independent support.

I’ve benefited from people who listened, asked the right questions, and helped me progress. Moreover I’ve mentored and coached others in the same way, to great effect.

I’m not saying we all need a mentor or coach. But I am saying we all need to sometimes stop, take a breath, listen to our intuition, resist stagnation, dream of our future self, and unashamedly go for it.

As my mentor and friend AJ Leon says “Knowing what you don’t want is all you need to start the adventure of a lifetime.”

I’m still on my personal adventure, but I kick-started it when I left my old routine, and followed my dreams to travel. My destination is only defined by my zest for life. The journey is the bit to enjoy the most!

Martyn Sibley

World Changing Blogger | Author | Facebook | Twitter | Linked In | Google+
CEO and Co-Founder Disability Horizons
Co-Founder Disability Academy
Founder Disability United
Co-Founder Accomable

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Under my email signature it says ‘World Changer’. A very grand statement that can appear arrogant or apply an unnecessary amount of pressure. However my interpretation and intention is neither of these.

At the moment I’m trying to arrange transport in Poland for December. It’s so we can see my Kasia’s parents over Christmas this year. In the summer we usually drive and therefore have the adapted car. Flying to Poland in winter is definitely preferable. Providing you can find a wheelchair accessible vehicle from the airport to your final destination.

Why am I sharing this story? Well, the fact is we will find a way. We always do. It might be perfectly accessible, but a little pricey. It might be cheap, but I’ll need to be lifted out my chair. It might be a friends van where I bounce around in the back with random cargo.

Once we overcome these inconveniences, they provide solutions for anyone else in my position looking to fly to Poznan in Western Poland.

So when I talk about changing the world. What I really mean is easy and simple. Just by living our lives, learning as we go, finding answers; we do two things:

  • Find answers for others to benefit from
  • Highlight an unmet need and give people opportunities to create new products and services

I’m not saying you should start ‘changing the world’ as a new thing either. I’m saying you already do it. Every single day. Just by being you.

Pretty awesome right?

Martyn Sibley

World Changing Blogger | Author | Facebook | Twitter | Linked In | Google+
CEO and Co-Founder Disability Horizons
Co-Founder Disability Academy
Founder Disability United
Co-Founder Accomable

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For those of you not aware, this week is Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Awareness Week! SMA is the name given to my disability. So it made sense to write something about it and raise some awareness myself 🙂

The cause of SMA is all rather sciency. And no its not related to the baby milk brand. Basically when 2 people carrying the gene (not necessarily having the disability itself) have a baby there’s a 1 in 4 chance the child will have SMA. Remember the dominant and recessive gene classes in year 8 biology? That’s how we get the 1 in 4 probability.

Anyway there’s between 2000 and 2500 of us living with the condition at any one time. There’s 3 types of SMA too – very logically they are type 1, type 2 and type 3. They follow a scale of more affected to less affected.

If you have more general questions I recommend watching this video

See if you recognise the voice over guy too… Holywood beckons me? :-p

I have type 2 SMA. So I’ve never walked, I require a lot of personal care support (for dressing, eating, drinking, hygiene, turning at night and so on), I use an electric wheelchair all day, and various other technologies (a lifting hoist, adapted car, electric bed, etc).

I struggle to focus on what I can’t do though. All seems counterproductive to me. Naturally I have to understand my limitations and maintain my solutions. But mostly I focus on what I can do. As you already know I enjoy a rich social life with family/friends, running my own business, and travelling the world with my soul mate.

As a child my family and I used the charity Jennifer Trust for SMA whenever we had difficulties. They would provide great information, advice and support. Plus I met other people just like me at their conferences and social events.

They’ve now become SMA Support UK. Continuing similar services to great effect and funding research related initiatives, just with a new name. Alongside them are the SMA Trust who fundraise for research around treatments for SMA.

It’s worked out really nicely that they both fund a project called the Adult Insight Group. A project that I run independently in my role as CEO for Disability Horizons. In this group I chair the meetings that enable us adults with the condition to share life’s challenges and experiential solutions. Last night we shared views on sex and relationships. It’s a no holds barred kind of thing. We’ve also discussed independent living, travel and working. If you are an adult with SMA and would like to join – please email me on martyn@disabilityhorizons.com.

I’m now professionally working with the charities I was helped by in the past. Pretty cool hey!?

So if you have a few quid please consider giving it to these charities. You’d be helping out a lot of families and individuals striving to simply live a normal life. Without the funds things like research, advice on complicated government funding or medical support, plus vital everyday equipment will be removed from the people who need it most.

Best wishes,

Martyn Sibley

World Changing Blogger | Facebook | Twitter | Linked In | Google+
CEO and Co-Founder Disability Horizons
Co-Founder Accomable
Co-Founder Accessible Traveller

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I’m often found on social media discussing accessible travel, and inclusion in general. It’s less usual to find accessible accommodation vendors mingling in the same social media buzz. So when Jan Kerr from Homelands trust in Fife kept appearing in the same facebook groups, I was very interested to hear more about their luxury accommodation near Edinburgh.

Luckily for Kasia and I, we were subsequently invited to stay and write a review. This post is of our experiences over a 3-night weekend stay.

Our trip started on Thursday 8th September. We decided to break up the 6 hour journey with a stop in Hartlepool. As it was approximately half way. However, in starting later in the day (with less hours to cover off), we hit rush hour traffic near Leeds and ended up taking 5 hours to Hartlepool. The next day we also hit the rainy Friday afternoon traffic around Edinburgh. So we were a little aggrieved about the drive, the weather and the tiredness we’d hoped to avoid.

The good news is that the negativity stops right here. Upon arriving at Homelands, the coastal view calmed us down. Then the accommodation itself put a huge smile on our faces. It was huge. It was luxurious. It was exactly what we needed.

Martyn at Homelands TrustSeparate to the long drive, I’d been working very hard in the days/weeks running up to the trip. So this relaxing environment and super adapted property was just the right way of decompressing and leaving behind any stressing.

We stayed in one of the four bedroom options. There are two bedroom solutions available also. Whilst I couldn’t go upstairs, it did not matter – with everything I could possibly need being downstairs. There was literally no detail left out.

homelands-trustIt had a large open plan design from the kitchen to the dining area and into the lounge. Both bedrooms had electric beds and overhead ceiling hoists. As did the bathroom, which had a Clos-o-mat toilet and wetroom shower. There were even spare manual hoists and shower chairs! It was a level of accessibility and assistive equipment like no other.

Along with the hotel I mentioned in San Sebastian, it’s got me thinking about how our home could be more adapted too. At present I use a manual hoist due to the leasehold property rules. However once we get a bungalow I know exactly what to do there 🙂

Beyond the delicious food we made, mugs of tea sipped, wine glugged, books read and music listened too (with a movie for good measure); there was exploring to be done.

Fortunately the guys had prepared a book on using the lodge, and on nearby attractions. In feeling tired we didn’t want to go far or crazy. So one day we took a walk to the nearby farmshop. In the surprisingly hot sun. Another day we walked to Largo bay and enjoyed the sea, boats and Crusoe hotel.

You see, Robinson Crusoe was a character written about by Daniel Defoe. But he was based on a real person called Alexander Selkirk. The real Crusoe was left on a desert island near South America and survived against all the odds. As in the book. Alexander Selkirk was from the area of Homelands trust. So we dreamed out to the sea of our adventures – past, present and future!

Even just to sit in our garden for those 4 days was amazing. Looking out at the waves and across the harbour to Edinburgh; it really energised us beyond any expectations. The great access, bright design, homely comforts, and surrounding attractions made our stay very happy, enjoyable and memorable.

We would definitely return again at the drop of a hat! Furthermore our journey home took 6 hours, with a 1 hour rest break, and I did all the driving myself. Amazing what a rest and ambitious plans can do for you…

The Drummochy lodge was one of multiple options at Homelands trust. I’ll let their website talk you through the other facilities there. Needless to say our accommodation was one of a variety of beautiful Seaview properties.

Signing off from my Scottish adventure.

Martyn Sibley

World Changing Blogger | Facebook | Twitter | Linked In | Google+
CEO and Co-Founder Disability Horizons
Co-Founder Accomable
Co-Founder Accessible Traveller

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I’m sat writing this in the garden of the house I grew up in. It’s always nice to come home and switch off from the day to day chores. I can’t believe it’s nearly September though. This year has been a rollercoaster, full of media and political drama. Fortunately the world is still full of amazing people and great moments!

I’ve had a few micro concerns to deal with, mostly from the daily grind of my mission. You know the mission around changing the world to be more inclusive. For over 7 years now I’ve been involved in projects for disabled people:

– My blog provides a personal insight into the juggling act of living independently, and the great possibilities available to disabled people IF we are fully supported.

Disability Horizons showcases the lifestyle opportunities that are available, and shares tips on how to grab them.

– Accessible Traveller was a huge success in giving disabled people specific information and great discounts for tourism. More news to come on this in September, as we’re expanding into other topic areas!

Disability United is our new campaigning website for accessing your basic needs with a disability.

– I’ve also started working with bigger organisations on how they can be more inclusive with their offerings and in their marketing communications.

As the Beatles said, it’s a long and winding road. My aim has always been to become redundant from this mission. To see a day when disabled people are truly equal and included in society. Unfortunately with the government cuts on vital services, some parts of society not being aware of the discrimination occurring, and many disabled people feeling exhausted from the struggle, it’s a big battle.

Something that I have realised might shift the conversation. Many civil rights campaigns started with civil unrest. This grabs the media’s attention, which grabs the people’s hearts & minds, which forces politicians to act. In turn we see legislation to protect these civil and human rights.

The hard fought battle for legislation in the UK was gloriously won in 1995 with the first Disability Discrimination Act (also known as the DDA – which was updated in 2005, and is now within the Equalities Act, covering many segments such as race and gender). I can never repeat enough how amazing these disability activists were. My life and millions of other disabled people’s lives would be very different without their heroism.

disability rights protestUnfortunately the disability rights movement hasn’t stuck together so well since the legislation passed. There’s so many differences in our needs and preferences. From the many different impairments, to the different political opinions, to the different organisations (those ‘of’ disabled people v those ‘for’ disabled people), and just the many different personality types.

So why should all disabled people be the same anyway?

The answer is they shouldn’t. However to remove the barriers in society that disable us, we must have some kind of cohesive aim and message. With the political and legal approach appearing to struggle, maybe it’s time we switch strategy.

There is no solid data about disabled people. One area we need to improve on is research. With a true understanding of the numbers we can prove to the government how cuts cost society more money, and how investing in inclusion actually makes our economy and society better. The two key categories this would support are independent living (housing and health/social care), and for access to the most appropriate education.

The other key area is with businesses. Sometimes it’s easy to always blame government. They don’t seem keen to enhance their image with disabled people either, unfortunately. However businesses may hold the key to the next wave of accessibility and inclusion progress.

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the ‘purple pound’. This is the colour representing disabled people. Much like green for the environment and pink for gay people. When we look at disabled people as consumers and as valuable parts of our economic workforce; I think the scales start to tip in our favour.

With reliable data and a strong economic model, we can educate and engage businesses. Internally they can recruit, retain and promote disabled employees. Giving us a platform to contribute our talents, and to be financially independent. Externally businesses can ensure their buildings, products, services and information are fully accessible and inclusive to everyone.

Why though? Why would businesses spend money on these changes?

The reason is that disabled people who can work (and there’s plenty of us) are great assets to any business. Resilient, reliable and very capable workers. Furthermore we have money, we spend it with our friends who have money, and when we find an inclusive brand we often return many times.

I will just take a moment to cover my ass from the disabled people who feel betrayed by this rhetoric. Not everybody with a disability can work. This must be acknowledged too. However, most of us who don’t work struggle because of the environment businesses operate in. Not because they’re actually totally incapable of working. So let’s be aware of the minority who cannot work, and find ways of supporting them to live an equally and comfortable life. But not let this derail the bigger picture benefits of placing disabled people as only needy/vulnerable human beings.

My vision (off the back of many books, discussions, thinking and planning) is a very sci fi one. All innovations come from dreaming though. I see a world where housing/education/work/leisure & tourism are truly available to everyone. No matter their abilities.

I believe this is possible from tools such as: 1) universal design where buildings, products, services and information are fully inclusive 2) assistive technology where say smart phone apps enable me to turn on/off lights and open doors autonomously 3) customer service innovation where say a waiter is trained to support me with using the toilet or cutting up my food in their accessible restaurant.

Pretty crazy stuff to imagine right? However society does face a real problem at present. We have an ageing population, and a more educated/ambitious generation of disabled people. All problems need solving. Particularly one that effects us all directly or indirectly. The opportunities of solving such a problem is exciting and the right thing to do.

If we can harness a message around true inclusion. Joining disabled people of all differences. Joining non disabled with disabled people. Joining the dots of access, technology and customer service. I know my sci fi dream will become a reality.

What do you think of this idea? I’m sure there’s holes and weak areas. So please join the conversation. Let’s fill in the holes and start changing the world together 🙂

I’m off to prepare for my next trip. I’ll be in Exmoor next week, showcasing how accessible the outdoors has become, in partnership with the National Trust and Disability Horizons. See you soon!

Martyn Sibley

World Changing Blogger | Facebook | Twitter | Linked In | Google+
CEO and Co-Founder Disability Horizons
Co-Founder Accomable
Co-Founder Accessible Traveller

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It’s been a few weeks since arriving home from our trip. My last travel post was from Poland and amongst the beautiful nature. After a couple more days with Kasia’s family we headed westwards for our next cool project. This time with the German tourist board.

Within an hour we were near Berlin. The first thing that strikes you in Germany is how efficient the roads are. On the autobahn (motorway) there’s less restrictions on speed. Which does sound scary, but actually works very well. With a good soundtrack or audio book, and roadtrip snacks; we ticked off the next couple of hours very quickly.

As we turned off of the main roads and arrived in the region of Lower Saxony, we were struck by the beautiful nature. There was lots of green scenery and water flowing amongst it. After around 4 or 5 hours of driving we arrived in Bad Bevensen. Our home for the next couple of days.

Guesthouse Bad BevensenOur hotel was called ‘Guesthouse Bad Bevensen’ in English. You can see more information here. We were greeted by Susanne from their marketing team, signposted to the car park and bedroom, and arranged to have a tour once we’d settled in. The car park was full of accessible parking spaces and we had 1 of 100 accessible rooms. Always a good start to an accessible travel experience right?

The rooms had electric beds which are very useful for people with my type of disability. It’s nice to sit up in bed and watch TV or just to move a bit in the night. Also the bathroom had the very vital roll-in shower. We’d brought my hoist and shower chair in the car, but they also had all of this equipment in house too.

fds_gbb_rezeption_356So after a freshen up we headed for the hotel tour. Set on 4 levels, there was plenty to see. The first thing that struck me was the 2 lifts, to help ease the rush hour traffic at dinner time. We were on the top floor and therefore enjoyed the balcony view of the nearby forests and also noted the fully plenished library next to it. Great for a chilled afternoon.

The rest of our floor and the third floor were bedrooms. On the second floor there was a variety of fitness and wellbeing amenities. The guests are able to participate in various daily classes including aerobics and an accessible form of yoga. The thing that grabbed Kasia and I was the steam room and sauna. So later on I hoisted into my shower chair and we headed down for a delightful warming with relaxing sounds and nice smells.

On the ground floor there was the reception and a huge dining area. We enjoyed breakfasts and dinners during our stay there. My favourite was the Italian themed evening. We also hung out in the bar area, which is situated both indoors and outdoors. Always good to sink a few beverages when on holiday 🙂

During our whistle-stop visit to Lower Saxony we had an amazing activity arranged. It was truly original. We spent a time with a group of Llamas. Yes that’s right. Llamas.

DSC_4036We met the rather edgy looking Llamas at the hotel. Of course alongside the owners of the company too. Very quickly we were told very calming information about these exotic but edgy looking animals. We learned that they don’t kick and only spit at each other when left alone. Phew! In fact they were probably more concerned than we were.

Feeling less worried we walked around the forest nearby. We then learned about how the Llama therapy can help disabled people with things like muscle spasms. A very interesting attribute. After a while we stopped for cookies and red wine. A really nice picnic during a very memorable excursion. The scenery was spectacular.

Naturally you wouldn’t just go to Lower Saxony and Bad Bevensen for Llama time. However as one activity to try I can definitely recommend it. I’d also encourage you to stay for 4 nights or more and make the most of the many places on offer in this part of Germany.

If you want to learn more about BarrierFree Germany and the many initiatives going on do click here. You can follow more of the campaign on twitter with the hashtag #BarrierFreeGermany. If I’ve whet your appetite about Lower Saxony specifically then head here too.

On the way home we had a fantastic experience with DFDS ferries. Thank you to them for a great accessible sail home. Now I’m remembering this great trip and thinking about where to go next time.

Martyn

World Changing Blogger | Facebook | Twitter | Linked In | Google+
CEO and Co-Founder Disability Horizons
Co-Founder Accomable
Co-Founder Accessible Traveller

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Earlier this month, on July 4th to be precise, it was exactly 5 years ago that I left my office job in London. My personal Independence Day! I was in Poland, about to leave for a project in Germany, and return home after 10 weeks on the road. Having been home a few weeks now, after shaking the exhaustion, it’s got me thinking about lots of things.

Back then in 2011 I was in my late 20’s, living the London high life, looking for love and proud I’d managed to do 5 years in that crazy capital city. My personal goals were not necessarily to leave London. However I dreamt of freedom from employment, to see more of the world, and generally to improve things in the disability space.

Now I’m in my early 30’s. I’ve managed to survive 5 years of self employment, without income support. I’ve seen more countries than most people do in a lifetime. I’ve been involved in projects that have given hope, provided tools, and changed stereotypes around disability. All alongside my beautiful soul mate.

I then started to look at what my new ‘five year goals’ might look like. The idea of launching as many new projects or visiting as many new countries exhausted me just thinking about it. Not to say there won’t be new projects and travels. However goal wise, I’m sensing a change.

Call me cynical, but for the first time I caught myself thinking like an older/mature/wise person. Well definitely older anyway. I realised that right now I value my loved ones, my health, and my current projects most. My dreams are more around having children, a bigger house, and improving current projects for social impact.

Martyn-at-the-seaside

Work wise. The goals for my blog, Disability Horizons, Disability United and Accessible Traveller are pretty huge. I want to get businesses, government and society embracing disability and difference. So much research proves the benefits of inclusion. The difference is I’ve got the momentum, the team, and the knowledge to do it all with less stress and chaos.

I’d have laughed 5 or 10 years ago about how ‘sensible’ and ‘calmer’ my dreams have become. But you know what? It all feels so right. To slow down a little. To enjoy the view. To feel the moment.

There’s been a few sad moments recently for some of my family and friends. It made me realise that life isn’t always about crazy adventures. It’s also about the little moments. I will still live by my old mantra – dream big, overcome the challenges, and live the life you desire. Just that now my desires are more about enjoying every day, than always trying to push myself so hard.

I’d love to hear about your current dreams, goals and progress. I am happy to help you with anything I can too 🙂

Martyn Sibley

World Changing Blogger | Facebook | Twitter | Linked In | Google+
CEO and Co-Founder Disability Horizons
Co-Founder Accomable
Co-Founder Accessible Traveller

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Having arrived from our long drive from Spain, we recovered in the beautiful nature of West Poland. I also caught up on my work, and managed to read a book or two – which is unusual!

I was asked by Lonely Planet to present on a couple of their #TravelforAll Periscopes. Unfortunately the Periscope comments and questions don’t show on the below videos. But the views, particularly from Lake Lubikowo, are stunning to see.

Through my quick broadcasts I explain about the Polish regions, how Wrocław is a European City of culture, the yummy cuisine, and that the people are so friendly.

I’ll be sad to leave in a few days after so long. However we’re off to Germany for a project with the German tourist board. Then home to the not so United Kingdom. Until then. Safe travels!



Martyn Sibley

World Changing Blogger | Facebook | Twitter | Linked In | Google+
CEO and Co-Founder Disability Horizons
Co-Founder Accomable
Co-Founder Accessible Traveller

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