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I’ve had a big shift in my career the past year or so. In fact it’s 10 years almost to the day that I handed my notice in from my safer employed job. So it’s fair to say on this long bank holiday weekend I’ve been a little reflective and a little nostalgic.

Here’s a few thoughts I’d like to share with you.

In 2009 I started blogging with a view to create a more inclusive world for disabled people. With a little help from my friends (cue the Beatles!) I learned how to write blogs, take engaging photos, record YouTube vlogs on my Flipcam (remember those?), and how to use social media to build a movement for inclusion.

Since leaving my dream job in London a decade ago, to pursue a whole new dream, I’ve had quite the adventure. My impact grew. I was invited on national media outlets (thanks BBC, Guardian, Independent and Huffington post). I joined forces with Srin and many adventures ensued.

We started Disability Horizons on an epic California roadtrip. We launched all sorts of products to the awesome DH community. Which lead to our accessible travel business Accomable, that went on to be acquired by Airbnb. We also got invited round the world to review travel destinations and to speak at conferences.

My highlight being in Brussels for a European Commission summit. Although ironically the public bus wasn’t wheelchair accessible!

Eventually I realised that the content creation, community building, and highlighting disability issues wasn’t going to get the job done. I feel like many governments, businesses and even some disability charities have been all talk without real action. So I switched things up again!

As you know, I now run Purple Goat. We’re the world’s only influencer first disabilty marketing agency. And we’re kicking ass!

I can’t deny. To get big brands to actually act on including disabled people. You know, with real budget investment and proper action. Well it took some learning and some tenacity. But we’re doing it, and I’m so proud of what we’ve created and what we’re doing at Purple Goat.

As I look to the next year of Purple Goat, and the next decade on my mission for true inclusion, I’m feeling frustrated excitement. I’m frustrated that things like lack of building access, bad customer service, exclusive recruitment policy and general societal barriers still exist in 2021. However I’m excited that what I’ve witnessed in the past 12 months or so, scaled up and over multiple years, is going to be a seismic improvement on how disabled people get treated and are included in day to day life!

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not about me or Purple Goat. It’s about a world waking up to the injustice of excluding any person unfairly, and a world finally ready to make change. Change to the environment. Change to racism. Change to disablism. Change to all the social wrongs in the world.

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The way I describe being disabled is all about societal barriers. Whether from the environment, people’s attitudes, or organisational policies; these daily touchpoints make or break my ability to live have a happy and fulfilled life.

Disability logo

The most pivotal barrier comes from peoples attitudes. When everybody understands inclusion, the built environment and organisational policies are generally designed for all. So to create an inclusive world we have to educate on ‘why’ inclusion is so important for everybody. Changing attitudes.

To me there are three reasons why the world should include everybody:

1) It is just the right thing to do. Let’s hope nobody knowingly excludes people, but unfortunately this one hasn’t moved the needle enough historically.

2) We have the civil rights and legal protection of laws such as the equalities act. Some cases have gone to court and won, but again this hasn’t moved the needle enough.

3) More recently we have the business case. Using the simple statistics that there are 1.3 billion disabled people in the world with an 8 trillion-dollar spending power. We have seen many campaigns and progress with regards to diverse employment, accessible goods and services, and social impact projects. All creating inclusive brands.

Just the other day I was travelling to Manchester to speak at a very large business conference. I’ve been in demand a lot lately following my speaking out more on inclusion. Yet on this progressive trip I faced the most simple of barriers to get there.

Future tracks

When using the trains I have to book at least 24 hours in advance, for every station that I will stop at. From Huntingdon to Manchester there were two changes. So I spent far too long in reaching the right people, getting my necessary assistance booked, and generally ensuring that my trip would be ok.

We set up Disability Horizons to give a voice to disabled people. This was very much inspired by the success of my personal blog. It’s been powerful how social media can give previously segregated groups of people a platform to share their injustices.

Alongside the community projects, my business consultancy, our marketing agency, and my day-to-day struggles with barriers; a very interesting solution was presented to me recently. The synchronicity of it being about voice was not lost on me!

Partnering with Craig Pugsley and his team at Stage One, we are developing a voice product. A tech solution that will do three amazing things to solve the difficulties currently faced by many people, just like me, when travelling by train.

It will be able to collect and remember your personal accessibility needs. It will be able to instantly book the assistance for your particular journey. Plus hopefully it will give live information on the day of travel. For example if a lift is broken at a given station.

Now just to be very clear we have sketched the idea and created a very basic demo, which you can hear or see on the below links. But we are going to need a few things to move this forward.

Community input. Every time

We need your feedback and input. plus we need your support! We are already talking to charities, MPs, and the media. But if you know anybody in these areas who can support us, please do connect us.

In the end we need funding to build a full prototype. So again if you know of any grants or social investors, please do send them our way. This solution has the ability to make a lot of people’s lives easier. plus in true win-win fashion, it offers businesses an amazing opportunity to connect with disabled consumers.

Here’s to an absolutely awesome world-changing project!

Here’s our full podcast discussion, including the demo of the 3 features mentioned above; YouTube. Spotify. Also available on iTunes etc…

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I cannot believe it’s almost March. This year is flying by. I’ve been feeling guilty for not writing to you more. However I’ve been hibernating, planning and organising the coming months. Whilst this isn’t conducive to articles, it is going to provide loads of content for you very soon 🙂

Apart from my husky dog sledding and general cold antics in Finland, I’ve been mostly at home. One cool thing to mention is I’ve been attending creative writing evening classes (now I’ve really raised the bar hey!). It’s been great to write from my imagination and not just news on my blog. I’d recommend doing anything like this to shake up daily life.

Fortunately my health has behaved so far, and I can almost smell spring now. I’ve had the usual care, equipment, housing and financial anxieties. I guess I’m just learning to focus on what I can effect, and not on the things I can’t. It always helps having close family and friends to pick us up during these testing times.

Work Projects

Most importantly my travel plans and work projects are going full steam ahead.

There have been some changes. Around the turn of the year I stopped working for Accomable, and am focusing more on Disability Horizons and other projects. Srin and I are still in touch, and I wish him lots of luck with that venture.

Blogging and Disability Horizons

I’m planning lots of travels (as you’ll read later), so my blog will be full of exciting accessible tourism content. Disability Horizons has many new writers and articles on the boil, so keep in touch on www.disabilityhorizons.com with that.

Published Author

Finally my book is finished. I’m officially a published author! Feel free to purchase  ‘Everything is Possible’ on ebook or paperback here. Please do share with your networks too. It’s a travel book all about dreaming big, overcoming mental & physical barriers, and how to achieve your goals no matter what people say.

Keynote Speaker

In April I’ll be speaking at both the SMA Support UK and Naidex conferences. It’s a great opportunity for me to share my mission with old and new faces in person. I’m working on an awesome new accessible travel project just for you. This will be announced online just before the SMA Support UK conference, so watch out for that. Also at Naidex I’ll be signing my book and having photographs with the Disability Horizons community. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Consultancy

As much as I love being creative and social within my own projects, I am enjoying sharing my skills with others too. Collaboration with Andys Kars, SMA Support UK, Invacare and Lonely Planet are going great. Only next Wednesday I’m taking over the Lonely Planet Periscope from Cambridge. Hopefully you can join me?

Ferociously hot BarcelonaTravels

All work and no play makes Martyn a dull boy! So next Saturday we’re treating my mum to a theatre trip in London. Then I’m off to Spain in mid March with Kasia’s family. It’ll be great to get some sun, warmth, vitamin D and enjoy all the family times.

Then after the conference talks and the brand new project launch, I just secured a sponsorship from Brittany Ferries. On 1st May we’re sailing to Santander, driving to San Sebastian, Barcelona and Piemonte in Italy for accessible tourism projects. Followed by our visit to Kasia’s family in Poland.

So lots going on as always! Keep your questions, thoughts and ideas coming. Remember I do this for you guys… Don’t forget to subscribe to my websites and social media for all the latest news in disability, tech, leisure and travel. Keep on trucking.

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Following on from a very open and honest blog post last week, I want to bring things back to a more positive here and now vibe. I’ve been less descriptive of my time in Spain, partly with my low energy, but also as things took a while to take shape. Here is a better catch up on what I have been up to…

Having arrived in Aviles in Asturias mid January, I settled back into general life quickly. As I had stayed in the same hostel and on a similar project last year; I already knew my temporary home, project expectations and local amenities/people. The differences were my care assistants and fellow volunteers, who are now also very much a part of my life here too. Nonetheless, I had still struggled to work out what I could do to make this year even cooler than the last.

Thus far I have done 2 very specific things.

Firstly, I have taught English to a group of around 12 young adults every Friday. We play games, translate songs, make up stories and have a great time. It is interesting teaching something so simple as your native language to a group of people it matters so much to to know. Furthermore to who it is a big struggle for to learn. I am going to miss this crew a lot. I have also taught English, with Kasia,r to my project coordinators brother (you follow that?). He is called Jairo and has a disability too.

My other regular project activity has been running a fortnightly radio show with Kasia too. We have completed 3 altogether: one on our drive through France here, one on music and its importance, and lastly all about ‘destiny’. You can listen to all of our ‘sunnier days’ radio shows here. I have really enjoyed both the planning and making of the radio show. Who knows whether there’s a future there 😉

Beyond the projects I have had visits from my sister Claire, my best friend Billy and Mum & Stepdad. It was cool to show them around, but unfortunately the weather isn’t so good here, therefore coffees and drinks were our main entertainment. I also treated mum to a handmade mothers day card yesterday (as it’s in May in Spain), a scarf and a broach. There’s been a fair few parties with the other volunteers and local massive. To be honest, as I creep up on 30 this year, I am a bit over the constant boozing and instead planning a few weeks of project work and good health. Plus the Spanish go out so late here, that really is harder for me than in the UK. I have also visited some cool places around Asturias, such as Gijon, Leon and the mountains.

In 3 weeks Kasia and I leave for Tenerife – part holiday and part work. I am doing some videos for Lero and giving a talk for the Mar y Sol hotel guests. In the meantime I am still working on my projects here and back home, plus a belter of a workship in my last week. Following the making of this video, we have been busy subtitling it for our Spanish premier – with media, politicians and organisations. Wish me well!

Hope you are all staying well, continuing your 2013 plans and most importantly staying happy.

Martyn

Thankfully we live in a world where there is more consideration for disabled people than in the past. This means that people with disabilities can feel more confident about travelling, knowing that their needs will be considered. The travel company Thomson offers a diversity of places to visit that can be enjoyed by people with disabilities.

Many holidays can be enjoyed by disabled people, and in some of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. These destinations include Egypt, Florida, and the Caribbean, and European countries such as Greece, Italy, Turkey, Spain, and Cyprus. The recent Paralympics in London opened up the eyes of many as to what disabled people can do physically. There are unique activity holidays designed for people with disabilities that include cycling, climbing, and water sports. Many beaches are suitable for disable people, too.

A person with disabilities, who books a holiday through Thomson, will be given assistance at the airport, and an assurance that all accommodation will cater for their needs. The company can also help with organising travel from a local airport, which will make things more convenient.

Travelling to different locations can be beneficial to a person with disabilities for many reasons. Probably the most beneficial aspect of all is the confidence that it can give a person with disabilities. Some disabled people will yearn to travel, but are too conscious of their disability to dare to travel to other countries. Overcoming this fear can be life changing.

When the decision to travel has been taken, and the consequence is an enjoyable holiday, then people with disabilities can feel more confident about travelling again. Travelling can then result in a disabled person having a much richer life, and a life where they don’t feel so limited by their disability.

In the modern world, people with disabilities have more opportunities open to them than just a few decades ago. If a disabled person has a desire to travel and visit different countries there are many destinations that they can enjoy and revisit.

Travelling can also help in how a person with disabilities is perceived back at home. A disabled person, who sees a lot of the world, will be admired for not letting their disability get in the way of leading a life as full as possible.

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Back in March and April this year I was in Spain for the European Voluntary Service. This article outlines my amazing time there!

During my stay I had some problems to find accessible bars and cafes with my fellow volunteers. Instead of finger pointing, we celebrated those that were accessible and accommodating. Here’s the video of how we got on 🙂

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“I only see my wheelchair when I see my shadow. Don’t chase your shadow, chase your dreams”

The attached homepage picture was taken on Tenerife’s ‘Playa Las Vistas’ on a recent trip. This island really inspires me so much.

Checkout the video for my general thoughts and for some information about the Mar y Sol hotel (http://disabilityhorizons.com/2012/11/accessible-holidays-in-tenerife/) and www.lero.net.