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Future 20 spotlight: Disability Horizons

Founded back in 2011, Disability Horizons is an online lifestyle publication that aims to give disabled people a voice, with a strong community of regular readers reaching over 500,000 people every year. Volunteers publish articles on topics that matter to them such as relationships, travel or employment to help create an inclusive community for disabled people. Co-founder of Disability Horizons Martyn Sibley, was recognised for the third year in a row in the Shaw Trust Power 100 list, which recognises the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK. Having joined our Future 20 programme earlier this year, we caught up with Martyn to find out how Disability Horizons encourages a more inclusive world.

What inspired you to start Disability Horizons?

My personal experience of living with a disability was the main driver. I was born with a genetic condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy, so I rely on using a wheelchair daily. I realised growing up just how inaccessible the world is for disabled people, and I wanted to overcome that and help create a world that is inclusive for disabled people. The success of my personal blog which spoke about living with a disability eventually led to the creation of Disability Horizons.

What has been a highlight for Disability Horizons?

It would probably be all the big brands we’ve worked with, including the likes of Barclays and Holiday Inn. We’ve worked with lots of travel companies to help them to be inclusive to disabled people, and we’ve also had great coverage in national media such as The BBC and The Guardian. That has helped us to get our message out there and help more disabled people to feel included.

Has being part of the Future 20 programme helped with your challenges?

The magazine started in 2011, and is mainly run by volunteers. We’ve been able to streamline those volunteer processes through the Future 20 programme. Plus, it’s given us confidence; knowing that there’s always someone to bounce ideas off and the fact there are lots of mentors with different areas of expertise is really helpful.

How does Disability Horizons positively impact people?

Through Disability Horizons we’ve created a positive community who are able talk about topics which matter to them, and that can be very empowering. We also have a closed Facebook group for community members, which lets them share their personal experiences and stories to show others that they are not the only one going through something. We help to create an inclusive society, and help disabled people’s voices to be heard.

How do you encourage diversity and inclusion?

Inclusivity is ingrained within Disability Horizons, from our volunteers to the brands we work with. We make sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to volunteer and our volunteer roles are open to everyone. The content itself is diverse, and is created by our community so we know it’s relevant and useful to them and is about the things they genuinely care about.

What kind of content is published on Disability Horizons?

Dating, travel and lifestyle are our core three topics, but we cover all sorts! We specifically wanted to avoid being political; there are already lots of magazines that cover that well, so we wanted to be more of a lifestyle magazine that covers everything from relationships, to leisure and just everyday things that disabled people care about.

Where do you envision Disability Horizons will be in 5 years time?

I see Disability Horizons working with more big brands on their campaigns to help them include disabled people’s voices into their messages. We plan to grow our existing community of readers and contributors to reach and inspire even more disabled people than before.

What do you think helps to contribute to a more accessible future?

I think new technologies are a really positive thing when disabled people are considered throughout the design process, and can be a powerful tool to empower people. I also see the rise of social media as a positive way to bring disabled people’s voices together and into the mainstream. But the main thing is that people and societies are open, educated and aware so that we can build more inclusive spaces for everyone.

Read Disability Horizons’ latest articles by exploring their website

The Future 20 programme is a bespoke incubator programme run by Allia Future Business Centre comprised of 20 of the very best UK tech for good and social ventures that are addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.