"It's time to drop the ‘Dis’.
Now is the time to focus on what we can do and not what we can’t!
It's about Ability, not Disability.
I started Ability Today as an online platform providing news and information on products, services and organizations that help and support the disabled community. It represents a rollercoaster journey following my accident, with definitely some ups and downs but as I realised, “...I am one of the lucky ones!"
Founder, Ability Today
Jacqueline Winstanely recently caught up with Grant Logan, Founder of Ability Today, to find out what makes him such an inspiring and Inclusive Entrepreneur. Grant is a member of the Inclusive Entrepreneur community and has benefited from her coaching and mentoring.
"On a sunny morning in September 2003, my life took a dramatic change of direction which would alter the way I lived from then on.
Before September, I was heavily involved in the music business as a manager of artists and songwriters, working with them on all aspects of their careers. A busy life but I really enjoyed it. Then my life changed…
I had gone to Exeter with a couple of friends on a weekend motorbike trip and on the way back I had an accident. I have no recollection of what happened, but apparently, the bike skidded on gravel on a sharp corner and I ended up in a farmer’s field. I woke up two days later to find family and friends gathered around my hospital bed. I was pretty battered, high on morphine, and through a haze, I discovered that I had crushed my spine and I would never walk again."
What followed was a grueling few months for Grant, with various operations and rehabilitation. As he said, "one thing stuck with me while in hospital - I have this vivid memory of a nurse coming and telling me that one day, I would realise I was one of the lucky ones! I wouldn’t understand what she meant until later on. I was discharged just before Christmas 2003 and started on the road back to independence. I had to master again the simplest of tasks that most people take for granted. I went back to work almost immediately, and it became clear very quickly that my work was going to be challenging in a wheelchair. I typically travelled with my artists, taking them to shows and events, as well as accompanying them to press and TV shows. However, I soon realised it had actually become more difficult getting me in and out of a building than them!
In the following months as I started the journey of accepting the new normal in my life, things took a turn again and I came down with the hospital superbug MRSA. In some ways, I think this had more of a detrimental effect on me than the accident. I became very ill and eventually had to have all the reconstructive metalwork removed from my back. It was down to my friends and family getting me through this tough time. Everyone rallied and I worked hard at staying positive."
So what led you to Entrepreneurship?
During this time, I started asking more questions about disability. Without realising, my research had started something that was going to help reshape my life. What I found was that there are some fantastic organisations with wonderful people helping the disabled community to help rebuild shattered lives. So I started to reach out to many of them. My first experience was a multi-activity course in the Lake District. I remember vividly the first morning sitting outside the B&B with about ten other wheelchair users, when the organisers turned to the tallest mountain in view and said, “We’re going to climb that today!”
The feeling of sitting on top of that mountain and having the realisation that I could still achieve my dreams was a very powerful emotion. One that made me realise that I could still have a life. That was in 2005 and in 2006 I went skiing to Colorado with The Back Up Trust and six other wheelchair users. That was the trigger for the first of my ideas, building a website for the disabled.
My first venture was a website called The Wheel Life, the first social network for wheelchair users. Pre-dating Facebook, we connected chair users globally and gave them a platform to express themselves on. It also worked very well for me personally as it placed me in the centre of the disabled community. This meant that people, charities and organisations would contact me about events and ask me to help spread their message.
Once I started engaging with professionals, organisations and other wheel chair users, I soon realised that there just wasn’t enough information readily available to the disabled community. It has gotten better but you really have to research, and it certainly wasn’t easy. So after hearing one too many wheelchair users say “I wish I had known about that” I decided to start Disability Today - today rebranded as Ability Today, to help give everyone the opportunity to access the information they need but often miss out on.
Ability Today has been running since 2014. What was the response from the disabled community and what path are you creating for the future of Ability Today?
"In January 2019, we rebranded from Disability Today to Ability Today, because it's time to focus on what we can do and not what we can't! It's about ability, not disability! We have had so many newsworthy moments with the community - in June this year, we won the Lotus Award for Innovation. We are now working with many national and international organisations to push open the door wide and bring more opportunities to our community members. Technology is changing lives, and I want to inspire others to reach new goals and do more with their lives.
I want individuals to become full time reporters for Ability Today, covering stories and events, helping to bring more people out to enjoy their lives and get more fulfillment, confidence and life experience. All of this is possible and within reach with the right technology and support. We are evolving and moving with the times, and our team is really excited to be part of this great new adventure.
Our mission is to create the largest knowledge hub for the disabled community and provide individuals with the opportunities and the skills to live better connected lives."