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Since I last published, England has moved a little out of lockdown. Confusingly. But things have eased a bit nonetheless.

On a personal level it’s been a busy time. Purple Goat is thriving since our launch. If you would like to understand what we’re doing in the world of marketing and disability inclusion, here’s a livestream replay and podcast all about it!

As Purple Goat has grown, I’ve been meeting disabled influencers from different industries, locations and with different disabilities. One of the coolest influencers I have met was Pippa Stacey. She talks about living with ME and blogging about it too, all here on our video and audio versions.

I’ve been listening to a great book on Audible called the Intelligent Entrepreneur. It was very timely that one of my Daily Sib guests this week was Kaleidoscope investments for disabled people. You’ll learn so much on this topic with Hardeep Rai on these YouTube and Anchor links.

Finally I caught up with my friend Ross Hovey about how he uses technology for independence. So if you are interested in driverless cars, smart homes and workplace adjustments head here for the YouTube and podcast versions.

I hope you are doing ok. Let me know your news. Plus I’d love to get you on the Daily Sib if you have something to share. Don’t forget to follow the livestreams weekdays at noon on my Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Twitch and LinkedIn.

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Last week I was invited to Madrid by the huge national Spanish Charity, Once. They are funded from the sales of lottery tickets, and run many projects for disabled people. Their staff and board of trustees are heavily represented by disabled people which I applaud.

The conference was to celebrate technology and tourism in the disability world. It has been running for 10 years. People come to speak on panels, run workshops and share their work. Others come to watch, listen and learn. Some do all of the above.

My direct participation was in attending a panel discussion on the third and final morning about the sharing economy in tourism. I had to wear a lapel microphone, an earphone for translating the Spanish speakers, and I arranged a video to play behind me of Srin and my adventures. Very high tech hey.

The moderator was travel editor Andrés Fernández from national Spanish newspaper EL PAÍS. He interviewed myself a 4 other people; Ivor Ambrose, Managing Director ENAT (European Network of Accessible Tourism). Katerina Papamichail, Architect from ENAT. Martin Heng, Lonely Planet’s Accessible Travel Manager. Francisco Javier Aragón from Camilo José Cela University.

Tourism Conference in Madrid - 1Ivor represents and works with the supply side of tourism and to help them be more accessible. Alongside Katarina and her architect knowledge; they’ve pushed and pulled the sector to be far more accessible. Martin and I are disabled, and we run publications to encourage our peers to use these new travel opportunities. We all knew each other already and constantly support each other.

I didn’t know much about the other guy from the university. Francisco surprised me when he started talking about the need for regulation on projects like our startup company Accomable (www.accomable.com). His points had merit regarding tourisms consumers/businesses having the same rights and responsibilities everywhere. However my perspective was that to regulate Accomable like a large business (with huge insurance policies etc), we’d go bankrupt.

Over regulation stifles innovation.

This is particularly counter productive when the market for disabled people is already failing. We need more suppliers to be accessible. We need those that are accessible to shout about out it. We need hubs like Lonely Planet, Disability Horizons and Accomable to bring both sides together. Millions of disabled people in the world can and want to travel. They just need the access and the information.

Needless to say it was a very interesting debate with such high esteemed people. Francisco and I shook hands afterwards and agreed that the answer is of course balance of regulation and innovation.

Tourism Conference in Madrid - 2Throughout the rest of the conference I learned about amazing new technologies and how they can help disabled people. For example one company want to use the technology of driverless cars on wheelchairs. It’s astounding what is going on out there.

Most of all I enjoyed meeting the different people there. It was surprising how many international people read my blog. I was very happy with the feedback. As always, great collaboration leads to great impact. So I’m hoping to work more with old and new friends as a result of this fantastic conference.

A big thanks to Once, Viajes2001 and Accessible Madrid for arranging our trip. The hotel, hoist and transport was very accessible.

In a few days I’ll share the story of Kasia and I seeing the real sites of Madrid. Plus after that I want to share a thought leadership piece on accessible air travel.

Martyn

World Changing Blogger | Twitter | Linked In | Google+
Co Editor Disability Horizons
Co Founder Accomable

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Despite having kept up my pledge to blog more, I realised it’s time for a more thoughtful, reflective and informational post.

Did you enjoy the Spain posts and hot air balloon video by the way?

Anyway, it hit me today that its already July! Unbelievable. Since getting back from Spain in April; there’s been great family times, some swimming and general fun. I’ve also been gearing up to move house, change my council care provider and everything else this entails. I’m excited and scared of how this will go, and will keep you posted when things begin.

Workwise the #dhsummit13 went well, I’m still working for Lero in Tenerife and have done some great collaborative project work, which is what I wanted to share with you today!

Visit Britain

Back in November, following some summer meetings with Maddy from GeoCast TV, I worked on an access video in the Birmingham area for Visit Britain. The experience was exhilarating, tiring, challenging and memorable. We visited 6 tourist venues, filmed a great deal and had a lot of fun. Thanks to Dan and Rob from GeoCast TV for helping me learn as a presenter.

Here’s the outcome:

VisitEngland

During the turn of the year, just before Spain, I was also involved in a project with some accessibility tourism colleagues. We collaborated in a project tender for VisitEngland, under the umbrella of ‘Access New Business‘.

After being successful for the tender we met Ross Calladine from VisitEngland at their London HQ. Our charge was to help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) not to become more accessible, but to market how accessible they already are.

Having studied my Masters in Marketing and worked in the disability field for years; it was great to truly combine these elements on a large scale. You can imagine how it will boost accessible businesses, but more so it will offer disabled people better information and choices for their homeland tourism.

Here’s the link to the toolkit we created, called ‘Speak up’.

Realife Trust and Vodafone

Having spoken to Lou Shackleton and Mel Findlater from @youcanhub on Twitter and at Ann Hawkins Cambridge meet ups; we were searching for collaborative projects too. At last, an opportunity arose in January to apply for a Vodafone award. The idea is to partner as an individual with a charity, to do a specific role. If selected, Vodafone pay your salary to do the work.

The collaboration came through Tony at the Realife Trust. He needed Lou to develop an elearning version of his brokerage training. Meanwhile asking me to develop strategy and technology to enable people to upload videos.

After us both winning, Lou has been working hard on the training, whilst I filmed some demo videos and chatted with Misfit Inc about technology. In October, in partnership with Disability Horizons, we will have a cool piece of software to enable the uploading of peer-to-peer informational videos, world wide!

The moral of the story…

Only this week I’ve confirmed my role as an ambassador for @britainsPB, with a huge personal challenge, high profile media work, charity fundraising for Scope and much more. Keep a watch on the 23rd July.

This has all shown me that despite having personal needs (such as income for shelter and food), personal wants (such as running high impact social change projects and world travel) and personal doubts (of if I can achieve these attributes); I learnt that interdependency is healthy!

There is no way I could have done these projects alone, even if I’d wanted to. Furthermore if I did, the outcome would be smaller and the impact would be rubbish. Not because of my limitations, but because of the synergy of collaboration.

With all of the above; the mixture of people, their experiences, skills, knowledge, and differences; it created a great outcome and huge impact for society. I’m proud to say politically, economically, technologically and most importantly socially; things have been shaken up and improved that tiny bit more by these collaborative efforts.

So, get out there, stop thinking, start doing and when appropriate get collaborating!

Big thanks to Kasia and my friends/family for always being there. Huge respect to Srin, Liz, Filipe, Mark and Zubee for making DH what it is 🙂

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“Today the Big Society Network (http://thebigsociety.co.uk/) and the Network of National Volunteer-Involving Agencies (NNVIA – http://www.csv.org.uk/about-us/strategic-partnerships/nnvia) brought together inspiring social entrepreneurs , known as Nexters, to showcase innovative ways of using social media to strengthen communities, particularly excluded or isolated groups.

The Nexters, who are part of the Big Society Network, are charged with developing new ways to enable people to volunteer time, expertise or money, or to engage democratically with public services and with civil society. All use networked technologies, such as web, mobile or games to ensure their services deliver maximum impact and are accessible to everyone in the UK.  Organisations involved include the National Trust, Breast Cancer Care, Leonard Cheshire, Guide Dogs and CSV.”

I am not a ‘nexter’ but was kindly asked to speak in partnership with Leonard Cheshire. The video shows a short piece of the workshop I facilitated. I explained my message of positivity to disabled people, the projects I run and the technology that enables this.

The feedback outlined the ‘fear’ of technology and people being unsure how to apply it to their cause or to their organisation. My response is worry about the vision and message. Only learn about social media as a tool for your cause, not as an outcome. The tools I use are great, low cost and far reaching. In time it can work for everyone and everything!

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This article will describe some of the key events of the past days of London rioting from my perspective. It will then touch upon some of the (very) broad issues by a SLEPT analysis and finally outline the major questions we need to ask. Each section could have been an essay itself, but I hope it kicks off some discussions and thought processes.

Key events

Things began as a result of the death of a young black man in Tottenham last Thursday called Mark Duggan. We are still awaiting news from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) on the circumstances. Tottenham’s community has a history of friction with the police. Therefore the tension, and to an extent the riots, can be understood on Saturday night. Of course, the human cost of ruined homes and destroyed businesses is wrong, but the specific issues in Tottenham can be vaguely explainable. I was in Manchester visiting my friend Richard and was out of town Saturday night. However my flat is a mile south of the Tottenham riots and I was glad to return to a standing home on Sunday.

Sunday night saw trouble too in Enfield and Brixton. This was further away from my place, it still hinted towards racial tensions and was the beginning of a very uneasy few hours. By yesterday afternoon Hackney central was under attack. Only 2 weeks ago I was there meeting the council for my webinar project. This is only a couple of miles south of where I live. I could see by now that the incidents, springing up in South London too, were far from being about Mark Duggans’ death or racial tensions in the direct sense. Young Londoners were rioting, looting and trashing their own city, seemingly for fun. As the situation worsened and my particular vulnerability became a consideration, I began to consider my options.

In 2011 one wouldn’t expect to flee a UK city, but this wasn’t a normal situation – as the pictures on tv clearly illustrated. However I am an independent guy in all senses and do not run away from problems. I conferred with my dad, discussed how the particular area I was in would probably be ok and that things would settle. Around working, making some calls and chilling I kept an eye on the news. By bedtime last night trouble had spread all over London, and indeed the UK. Buildings were burning, shops ransacked and people terrified. I figured I needed to get back to my mums house, not risk getting caught up in this sad snapshot of Britain and continue watching events unfold from a safer haven. I write this blog in the tranquil, sunny and peaceful town I grew up in Cambridgeshire. I am looking forward to tonight, after last night where I hardly SLEPT.

SLEPT analysis

I referred above to there being racial tensions, but last night’s problems were seemingly unrelated to the incident in Tottenham. On a higher level there doesn’t even seem to be a point, political or otherwise, to the riots. It is just young kids causing havoc on an August evening. My feeling however is that the problem is still political and here is why. Using SLEPT – social, legal, economic, political and technological we can consider the broader issues.

Social – Whether there is an underlying point, or even a cry for help in these actions, it does make you question society. If there was a protest, a speaking out or some call for change we could understand things better. Some commentators are suggesting the policy decisions, especially in education, are disengaging the younger generation. Others question why families and communities were less able to affect the small but effective minority. Either way, our society and community needs a serious shake up. The actions in London and the UK cannot continue.

Legal – We have laws a plenty to deal with this type of incident. The problem, similar to the Disability Discrimination Act, is enforcement. With the riots, the police are currently demoralised with the budget cuts affecting them and the loss of key personnel after the phone hacking problems. They also have to deal with the intricacies of human rights eg. Peoples freedoms to act and freedoms from harm. I am not a specialist in this area, clearly, but I am saying the police tread a line where had they of searched, shot and bulldozed everyone, they would be in the media firing line. However they have been restrained and stretched in resources, leading to ineffectual law enforcement. I wonder also if the courts and prisons can cope with the numbers coming their way as a result of this.

Economic – we know communism didn’t work, however we have a larger reason of late to question capitalism. With the inequality of global/regional wealth, the credit crunch, market crashes and calls for austerity, is this system working either? My feeling is no, but it has to work as it is the only system that works for humans’ unlimited wants in a world of limited resources. It is up to the political world to use capitalism more fairly and sensibly. However without jobs, taxes, public spending and incentives for all, capitalism can and will fail.

Technology – I am leaving ‘political’ until last. The main interest under technology is social networking. Twitter and Facebook helped mobilise the riots so quickly and efficiently. Blackberry messenger privatised their communications too. As a solid supporter of social networking I still defend this method of communication. Anything can be hijacked and used for bad, plus the information is now being used to track down the perpetrators. However it does need acknowledging that technology played a big part in this and leaves certain questions open.

Political – all of the above links back to Politics.

  • The decisions on why society is not right and how to reconcile these massive issues.
  • The decisions on law making and law enforcement.
  • The decisions on the economy around why the world is bleak financially, why there are no jobs and why debt is so high.
  • The decisions on technology such as privacy vs public interest with phone hacking, and how social media fits within our world.

All of these questions need answering, need solving and need communicating appropriately.

Last thoughts

I have outlined the recent events, explained how the riots directly affected me and discussed a few of the questions that need asking after this mêlée. Beyond specific policy questions, it makes me wonder about our whole political system.

The general public demand protection and assurance, understandably so. However if you are one of the kids rioting:

  • you feel the government never listens,
  • you see the cut the money in your education and your future too,
  • you see the political expenses scandal,
  • you feel disengaged,
  • you wonder if the ‘rules’ are right,
  • you wonder if the ‘rules’ are fair,
  • you debate how trustworthy the government is

Finally, if you have little to lose – the riots somehow seem justifiable in the eyes of that person.

We do need government, we do need rules, we do need to trust. However only when we really trust the people that decide our social fate through the steering  of our economy, deciding our laws, enabling technology to be used for good and all other matters, can we expect everyone to abide by that.

Maybe it is time for a politician who isn’t from an affluent background, who understands real people and who can communicate with them on all levels to solve this. I worry that Cameron, Clegg and Milliband cannot. I do hope on Thursday they can restore calm, order and faith back in people (on all sides) and allow everyone to get back to living and not fearing. Then we can tend to the bigger questions these riots have thrown up.

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Having blogged for 18 months, completed 200 posts and learnt so many things along the way, this post presents a landmark launch! As my writing has found its style and my views have broadened, I have been keen to offer a platform for other disabled people to speak out about their lives, experiences and opinions too. You may have read some of my guest blogs from Srin and Toby for example?

Having discussed these sentiments with my good friend and travel companion Srin, he came up with an amazing idea. What if we created an online magazine for disabled people, by disabled people. Not an entirely new concept, but we decided if it was to be positive, aspirational and more lifestyles based it would be true to our values. Finally we thought if anyone could contribute, the magazine could go wherever people wanted to take it.

I can now proudly present the first edition of our new online magazine – www.disabilityhorizons.com. It features articles on adventurous leisure activities, education, technology, employment and much much more.

We hope you enjoy it, we actively encourage you to feedback and if you have any ideas and want to write an article, please do let us know!