I am often asked what it is that I do … I tend to say that I am a storyteller, an adventurer and a people watcher. I spend a lot of my time visiting old places and spaces, gardens and green places, and when I am not doing that I work as an access and inclusion specialist.
I have often been asked about writing a book to collect and collate my adventures and experiences; something I still hope to do. I have written a book but this is more about my areas of interest than my adventures.
My early professional life was in and around the field of social work and specialising in physical and sensory impairments. Tinged with a little irony, perhaps, as in those days I had no idea that I might acquire one myself.
As time passed I needed to explore less ‘physical’ means of employment and embarked on a career in the emerging world of information technology. With qualifications in strange things like SQL databases, server architecture and software development my journey rapidly moved me toward information technology as an enabling tool for disabled people. The first conference I attended on this theme way back in the late 1980’s led to a lifelong passion to make technology open and accessible to all.
In recent years, I set up one of Scotland’s first Community Interest Companies, a type of social enterprise, and gathered a team of talented people to design and develop accessible publications and websites. Designed by disabled people for disabled people. Seven successful years later and I decided the time had come to work purely in the field of access and inclusion and so the current chapter of my ‘journey’ started.
My current work focuses very much on user experience and customer journeys. I can often be found visiting a tourist attraction and advising on the accessibility and inclusion. More often than not my visits are by way of confirmation that a venue has great access but simply didn’t know if as they say ‘they had got it right’. Training is another area of my work where I deliver bespoke Disability Equality Training; no one session is the same as another. It may be for the Edinburgh Fringe Society, Visit Scotland or Euan’s Guide by way of recent examples.
I can often be found out and about with Euan’s Guide where I provide help, encouragement and professional services. By sharing the great stories of accessibility to the places people want to visit we can encourage change as more and more people and places get involved.
In the odd hours where I am not working or doing the necessary pursuits of daily life I champion Disabled Access Day and enjoy quietly supporting other groups and initiatives who are working toward making society a more inclusive place.