Disability Today, mobilising the disabled community with help from LSBU
Self-confessed adrenaline junkie Grant Logan’s life was
changed completely in September 2003 when he broke his spine in a motorbike
accident. His drive to live as
fully and independently as possible led him to starting Disability Today, a
website that provides a range of news relevant to people with disabilities.
After an initial meeting
to get help with informatics, Grant found that London South Bank University
(LSBU) could help get his social enterprise off the ground in even more ways
than he’d expected.
From social network to communications platform
Despite starting the world’s first social network for wheelchair users called the Wheel Life, Grant realised that none of the social networks, including his own, were satisfying their users or were as inclusive as they could be.
“So many times I had come back from being involved in events to hear the words ‘I wish I’d known about that’ from other disabled people. This got me thinking that often the biggest problem can be getting the information out to the intended person. So after some thought I decided to build a news website and help push the information out to the community that so need it most,” he explains.
The idea for Disability Today was born, a one-stop (online) shop for disabled people where they can read highly relevant news, find out about and access vital services, and meet others with the same disability.
hands from LSBU
Grant was initially
interested in accessing LSBU’s Informatics expertise to help scale up the
website and reach people with a wider range of disabilities. He was introduced
to Dr Safia Barikzai, an Academic from the School of Engineering, but it
quickly became obvious that Grant would also benefit from business support and
Neil Pearce, now Head of
Knowledge Exchange for Research, Enterprise and Innovation, was invited to meet
with Grant and they hit it off straight away. Although it isn’t strictly part
of his ‘day job’, Neil agreed to support Grant, acting as a mentor and offering
“It’s your civic duty
giving back. If you’re not a profit generating company, where else would you
go?” says Neil.
to a new LSBU winter intern initiative supported by £100K funding, Neil was
able to match Grant with Jeevithan Jeganathan, a BSc (Hons) Business
Information Technology graduate. Jeevithan is profoundly deaf and was able to bring his
own experience of disability to the project.
well as contributing
her extensive expertise,
Dr Barikzai also oversaw the project and supervised LSBU’s biggest contribution,
which was designing the new website so that it
met international standards for web accessibility. The newly designed website was ready to launch after just six weeks.
Moving forward together
The relationship between Grant and LSBU continues to grow.
Over the 2015 Summer, a second intern will be helping Grant to implement
further upgrades to the site, which will be re-launched in the next few months.
Second year Marketing students will also help develop an
integrated marketing and communications plan with the aim of increasing the site’s
engagement with existing networks.