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DAMIANO’s INTERVIEW for THE GUILDHALL SCHOOL of BUSINESS and LAW

DAMIANO’s INTERVIEW for THE GUILDHALL SCHOOL of BUSINESS and LAW

This week’s blog is dedicated to an interview Seable’s CEO Damiano La Rocca gave to Rita Bressi, a student from the Guildhall School of Business and Law. We are proud Seable’s model had such impact on Rita that she decided to use our story for her student’s project. As with everything we do at Seable, we hope to keep having an impact on young people. Please enjoy this essay by Rita.

 

Brief introduction to my entrepreneur’s company:

Last November, thanks to my university, I had the great opportunity to attend a meeting at the ‘Accelerator’ where I met two entrepreneurs who operate in London. Both of the ideas were really interesting but one in particular have had a huge impact on me. Damiano La Rocca is a 29 years old Italian guy who has been living in London for ten years. He have studied International Tourism Management and in 2013 founded ‘Seable’, a company which organises trips for invalid people.

 

Discussion:

 

Interview (Appendix 3)

I conducted the interview on the 10th of February over the phone. It has lasted over 30 minutes and I asked him mainly open constructive questions about his leadership style, his personality and moreover some details about his company.

Like the majority of the young entrepreneurs, Damiano presented his idea at the ‘Accelerator’. He said he has worked really hard with a team of people who were trying to launch their businesses as well. Unfortunately, the first attempt didn’t go through and Damiano lost his opportunity. Nevertheless, ‘Accelerator’ found his idea so innovative that it decided to reward him by providing with some capitals to sustain the primary costs (such as market research, insurance, license and permit fees, advertising and promotion and employees expenses) and by offering him an office for two years. (Interview)

 

 

-Article 1:

According to Linda Applegate, people should identify the unique skills and behaviors who make an entrepreneur successful rather than focusing on entrepreneurial ‘personality’ (Applegate,2016 p. 1).

Through a survey, a literature review were able to understand and demonstrate the level of comfort and self-confidence people have towards several dimensions of entrepreneurial leadership.

The survey came out that founders, compared to non founders, show a higher ‘comfort with uncertainty’, identification of opportunities, vision and influence.

This aspect applies to Damiano La Rocca as he is very confident with uncertainty and he does not feel threatened from it. Moreover, despite the young age, he has been able to catch a glimpse of the opportunity through a market research and took advantage from it in order to establish and develop his company. He had a vision and he made it come true. Besides, as every leader should, he has the ability to influence his team and makes it gain the best results to meet the organisational vision.

  • Differentiation between male and female entrepreneurs (Appendix 4):

The article also shows some key differences between male and female entrepreneurs, for example, women seem to be more confident in the ability to ‘efficiently manage operations’, to create unique visions and, lastly be influent. On the contrary men demonstrate a wider confidence when in comes to ‘comfort with uncertainty’ and financial management. This last theory cannot be applied to my entrepreneur as he confessed he has not high financial skills, indeed he had hired an accountant who takes care of the expenditures. ”I am not very good at managing financial so I hired an accountant” -Damiano La Rocca. (Interview

  • Differentiating ‘serial founders’ and ‘first time founders’

The big gap between serial founders and first time founders is also discussed in this study.

‘Serial founders appear more comfortable with managing uncertainty and risks’ (Kraus, J. 2016)

In Kraus’ opinion, serial founders often like establishing and launching new businesses where risks are highest. This because they enjoy creating clarity from uncertainty.’

Again, this is not Damiano’s case. In fact, he stated he does not like running risks and he acts only when he’s sure he is going to succeed.

 

 

-Article 2:

‘Authenticity as emerged as the gold standard for leadership’ (Harvard Business Review, 2015)

Recently, three scholars argued about Authentic Leadership.

According to Jeff Preferer, a leader should not be authentic at crucial moments; Adam Granit stated: ‘be yourself is actually a terrible advice, nobody wants to see your true self’. (Bill George, 2016 p.1)

Instead, Webster describes authenticity as ”real or genuine, not copied or false, true and accurated”. Authenticity comes from an old Greek world which means ‘author’. From this Warren Bennis stated ‘you are the author of your life’.

La Rocca strongly agrees with Bennis, as he explained he believes in destiny and he thinks everything happens for a reason. His father accident played an important role on the development of this opinion. ‘If you think about it’, he said, ‘If I wouldn’t moved to London, I would have never felt my home’s nostalgia and therefore I would never established my business.’  (Interview)

-Low self-monitors VS High self-monitors

Two types of authentic leadership have been distinguished by Ibarra: Low self-monitors and High self-monitors. People of the first category tend to say everything that comes to their mind, instead, people who belong to the second group watch carefully what they say because of the impact they can have on others.  (Ibarra, 2016 p.1)

Damiano is definitely a high self-monitors. He is aware of the strong influence he has on his employees, for this reason he tends to be carefully whether his actions or words.

Indeed, according to Eagly authenticity emerges from the relationship between leaders and followers. It is a reciprocal process as leaders influence their followers and vice versa. (Eagly, 2005, cited in Northouse, 2012 p.254)

Ibarra believed low self-monitors is a sign of immaturity and insensibility to the feelings of others. Therefore, this is the opposite of being authentic leaders. In the light of this study, it can be said Damiano La Rocca is an authentic leader as he regularly involve people in deciding how to achieve the business’ goals, this help people feel like they belong to an organisation which cares about them. Moreover, he said he actively affect his team through his leadership style. Nevertheless, he also added sometimes this leadership style is not efficient as the way in which he acts influences positively or negatively his team. For example, when he is more strict and tight he can gain better results then he reaches when he is friendly and funny.

On the contrary, he defined himself as a ‘slave’ for his customers, they must be always right. He acts like this in particular for the kind of people his dealing with.

 

 

-Article 3:

”Entrepreneurial marketing is the pro-active identification and exploitation of opportunities for acquiring and retaining profitable customers through alternative approaches to risk management, resource leveraging and value creation”. (Morris, Schindehutte and LaForge, 2002:2)

In this article the initial issue of every start-ups is discussed, that is ‘how to attract customers without any user’.

The first strategy is to prefer ‘digital marketing’ rathen than traditional mass media as they are more expensive. Digital marketing instead, allows companies to advertise for $10 a day.

This is basically what Damiano did, as he said, in the beginning he used social media in the beginning such as ‘Youtube’  in order to capture the attention of a wider range of customers.

The second one is called ‘Shifting trom supply to demand’ and it consists in asking people what they want and build it forward and envisioning the perfect experience and creating it backward. Once again, this plan is followed by La Rocca. In fact, he listens to his customers, their desires and objectives and looks for different ways to meet them. For his company this means building a trustworthy and strong reputation which is vitally important to attract more potential customers. (Thales Teixeira and Michael Blanding, 2016)

 

 

-Article 4:

The main differences between social and individual entrepreneurship are outlined through this study. (Appendix 6)

”The older and still dominant American myth involves two kinds of actors: entrepreneurial   heroes  and industrial drones – the inspired and the perspired.” (Reich, 1987:78).

Individual entrepreneurship, as the name may suggests, involves individuals who take actions through innovation and opportunities running risks.

On the other hand, social entrepreneurship is characterised by a participant, a group of people or a  network who undertake an holistic process to develop societal innovation. In this way they create favorable opportunities. Unlike individual entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship does not  involve risk taking, nay, it tends to minimize it. (Herlau, H. & Tetzschner H, 1998)

Damiano La Rocca runs a social enterprise, indeed, he has a conflictual relationship with challenges, he usually faces them up just if he is sure he can  win and if he is confident enough. He doesn’t like risking. However he states the biggest challenge  has been starting his business.

 

 

-Advice/recommendation

Despite Damiano has done a great job so far, he should be more confident in risk taking in order to expand his company abroad and enter new markets even if this wouldn’t allow him to go back to his homeland very often. Moreover, I would recommend him to improve his financial skills: La Rocca should takes charge of the financial management or, at least, having the necessary competencies to check on the accountant’s work. In order to achieve this, he could follow some course in his free time or do some researches on his own.

Besides, the marketing strategies could also be improved. Employees take care of the advertising and it looks like they did it well. However, I would advice Damiano to hire a marketing company to supply a stronger advertising which can have a bigger impact on wider range of people.

In the beginning this will raise the costs, but it is a good investment as it is going to make the company more popular, attract more customers and therefore, earn more money.

 

Conclusion:

By interviewing my entrepreneur, analysing his responses and using academic articles helped me understanding leadership and entrepreneurship more deeply.

In the beginning I though people usually born with the skills necessary to make them entrepreneurs, instead by looking at Drucker’s study I now know that I was wrong. This made me feel more comfortable as I understood I can actually learn how to be a good entrepreneur and thus, how to achieve success in the future. (Drucker, 1982: 143)

Using Amabile’s research I have learned more about creativity and innovation, what they are and how to improve them. (Amabile, 1996 p.49)

Through Applegate’s study I understood how to start a business and what uncertainty actually means for entrepreneurs, how an entrepreneur manages risks and financial implicationshow male and female entrepreneurs are different from each other. (Applegate, 2016)

By analasying Bill George’s research I am now aware of authenticity really means for leaders and entrepreneurs, how important it is and how to develop and establish a strong and efficient relationship with customers and leaders. (Bill George, 2016)

Teixeira and Blanding’s article is the one I have loved the most. Attracting customers in order to make a business grow is not easy and they have proven some marketing strategies can actually change a business’ fate. This study is inspiring as it also encourages changes and therefore, it makes readers braver in decision making. (Teixeira and Blanding, 2016)

I am now aware there are various kind of businesses and each one has to be managed in and by different ways and leaders. By taking into account Tetzshner, Helge, Herlau and Henrik’s work I am now able to differentiate between Social and Individual Entrepreneurship. (Tetzschner, H. and Herlau, H. 2003)

In addition I have learned how to interview somebody, how to develop question from academia, using combinations to discuss open questions (What, how..why) and closed (do you, do this) I understood the differences between them and this can help me in approaching people as I am not a confident person. In terms of practice I now know the risks, the behaviors and what entrepreneurs actually do within their businesses.

In conclusion, the most interesting part in this assignment for me, has been researching numerous author’s point of views and critiques. By doing this I have also learned how to link various concepts even from different lectures and modules. I think this is the most important skill a student can develop as it helps enriching personal culture and develop flexibility in thinking.

 

 

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.

Travelling with a disability – Public Transports in the UK

Travelling with a disability is never an easy task. That’s why public transports should be on the forefront of helping out. Unfortunately it seems this is not always the case.

 

Southern Rail’s cuts

 

Southern Railway train-Travelling with a disability

Southern Railway train

 

This week we got very concerned upon hearing how train companies in the UK are scrapping help for disable people; especially Southern Rail, that is quietly cancelling ‘guaranteed assistance’ from 33 stations.

 

Transport for All, which campaigns on behalf of disabled passengers, said the company have scrapped their ‘turn up and go’ access at dozens of stations.

 

Before the change was announced, train maps specified the stations where those needing assistance could turn up and travel.

 

Now, the maps on the trains say that if such passengers do not book help in advance, ‘there might be a significant delay to your journey’.

 

A spokesman for Transport For All said: ‘Whether it’s assistance failing to turn up, inaccessible platforms or a lack of accessible facilities on trains, what is clear is that our railways are failing disabled and older passengers.

 

‘Now, to make matters worse Southern Rail have announced that they are withdrawing turn up and go assistance from 33 stations across their network.

 

‘This is clearly a huge backwards step for accessibility.’

 

On the other hand, a Southern spokesman said: ‘Passengers do not have to book assistance before travelling with us.

 

‘We only recommend this to ensure we have staff prepared with ramps or that alternative travel is in place if a station is not accessible. Our priority is to have an on-board supervisor on services which previously had a conductor.’

 

‘In the exceptional circumstances when this is not possible, we have a clear, robust process to ensure passengers with accessibility requirements are assisted to complete their journeys.’

 

Travelling with a Guide Dog on Public Transport

 

Patrick Robert, from Lambeth, is blind and uses his guide dog Rufus to travel around London

 

After hearing about these cuts by major Railways companies we scanned the web where we found some other very interesting first person accounts about difficulties of travelling on public transport, in this case we report an informative account on the difficulties of travelling with a guide dog from Patrick Robert, from Lambeth, who is blind and uses his guide dog Rufus to travel around London.

 

Travelling in London can be a real challenge for people with a visual impairment. Back in 2009 I registered as severely visually impaired (Blind). Since then I have had to adapt myself to the transport network and change my habits. Every time I travel around I’ve got the support from Rufus my guide dog.

 

This change in my life was not always easy. As a result I joined Transport for All in order to get advice and support when using the different public transport modes. “Lack of communications is one of the biggest challenges I face.

 

I often struggle on buses: when you’re speaking to a bus driver they don’t always verbally respond, but probably do a sign which I can’t see. I have had also some bad experience with bus drivers not stopping at the bus stop but a few meters away. Obviously if a bus driver does not stop in front of me, it makes it impossible for me to discuss with them and check the bus number.

 

On the Tube I had a lot of issues following the closure of ticket offices, making it harder for me to find staff to assist me. I need staff in order to travel safely and I need to find them as soon as possible to avoid being targeted by the general public.

 

 

Lack of communications is also an issue with taxis. Once I booked a taxi and told the operator that I was travelling with my guide dog and the driver should ring my doorbell when they arrive. I received a telephone call from the operator telling me that my taxi had arrived and was waiting outside for me. I reminded the operator of my earlier instructions and asked how I was supposed to identify the taxi outside?

 

Five minutes later my doorbell rang as I opened the door the driver was already heading back to his taxi.

 

Locking my front door, Rufus and I walked up to my front gate, only to hear the driver say he cannot take the dog. He proceeded to rant and rave about dogs not being allowed in his taxi. I told him I had advised the operator that I was travelling with a guide dog and he needs to have a go at them and in the meantime I need to get to this council meeting. I could hear him talking on his phone saying he was not prepared to take me. At this point it had started raining and I said to him he was breaking the law by refusing to take us.

 

That seemed to subdue him for he assisted me and Rufus into his cab and during the journey he kept apologising saying his custom and culture does not accept dogs and his company knew this. I told him it is against the law to refuse access to guide dog owners and their guide dog.

 

On another occasion I booked a minicab and told the operator that I was blind and the driver needs to come to my front door and ring my doorbell. The phone rang; it was the driver saying that he could not find my property. I gave him specific directions to my home from the location he described to me. Five minutes later, he rang back and asked me to come outside so he could see where my property was and I could see where he was?

 

I walked outside and waited about ten minutes and then went back in to find four messages on my answer machine from the driver saying he could not see me; he could only see a guy with a white stick, am I anywhere near him? I called him back and told him I was the guy with the white stick.”

 

The interview with Patrick Robert has been taken from the inews.co.uk (https://inews.co.uk/essentials/news/travelling-disabled-person-taxi-drivers-try-refuse-take-guide-dog-i/)

 

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.

 

World Down Syndrome Day

Today, March 21st, is the World Down Syndrome Day. A day all about recognising how unique those with the condition are. It is by recognising the contributions they can make to the world, and how much they can really achieve, that we can reduce the stigma surrounding disability.

 

 

Down Syndrome International encourages people across the globe to choose activities and events that will raise awareness of what Down Syndrome is, what it means to have the condition, and how people with Down Syndrome play a vital role in our lives.

 

By understanding the issues those with Down Syndrome face in everyday life, and recognising the steps people can take to help them realise their full potential, a real difference can be made to enrich the lives of those with the condition.

 

Today, as the  World Down Syndrome Day reached its 12th birthday, we hope where the voice of people with Down Syndrome, and those who work and live with them, will grows louder.

 

So, let’s celebrate this day with some amazing videos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.

Clickability, the Australian website giving people with disabilities a strong consumer voice

If you wanted to find out how good that shop is down the road, there’s a bunch of apps and websites that could help you out. But what about if you have a disability and you need to find out if they have the right facilities to suits you best?

 

People with disabilities living in Victoria and New South Wales (Australia) can now do it, and all thanks to Clickability.

Clickability is a new website funded by two Australian women in Melbourne, with the intent of helping people with disabilities find the help they need. How does it work? Simple, it’s an online directory that allows local disability care and support options to be listed, rated and reviewed.

 

Jenna Moffat and Aviva Beecher Kelk both come from a background as social workers (picture: thecusp.com.au)

 

Dubbed by some a “TripAdvisor for disability support services,” the concept developed by Jenna Moffat and Aviva Beecher Kelk is impressive. Their intent is to target anyone affected by a disability and empower them with a unique chance to be able to pick and choose what service really suits them, rather than having to adapt to whatever is on offer.

 

The source of this idea comes from Beecher and Jenna’s background as social workers. They came up with the idea while after noticing that they kept having to reach out to their professional networks or use Google to find support networks for clients.

 

“We were gatekeeping so much information, I was literally calling people I did my Masters with to ask about homelessness services, for example, or domestic violence services,” and also “We just saw this huge gap there in terms of consumer rights … In this industry, that’s a gap in human rights as well,” said Aviva.

In few words, Clickability places information on disability services all in one place.

 

 

A key point about the startup is that its mission aligns with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), a significant social welfare project for people living with disabilities being rolled out by the Australian government.

Aviva added: ‘We just saw this huge gap there in terms of consumer rights … In this industry, that’s a gap in human rights as well.’

Under the NDIS, support services will have to see people with disabilities as customers, she explained.

 

As Aviva pointed out, people with disabilities on the NDIS are in many cases expected to make their own decisions about which support service to choose. “Government money used to go to service providers to distribute services, and it’s now going to individuals to purchase the services that suit themselves,” she explained.

 

 

“Likewise, consumers have to start thinking about themselves as customers. How do I assert my customer rights? How do I articulate what I need? How do I get what I need?”

 

 

Unfortunately, in her view, the information to back up that decision-making is just not there, and it’s certainly not the kind of relevant, reliable peer-generated information that exists in other industries. That’s where Clickability comes in.

 

 

 

To list and rate services is free on Clickability, but subscribers can reply to comments and personalise their page, among other features. The next step in Clickability’s development will be to make it easier to use for visually impaired and blind people.

 

“The big thing for us is how do we make this accessible for people with intellectual disabilities?” says Aviva. “We also collect [reviews] in-person sometimes at conferences and events from people with all sorts of different access needs. It’s really important to us to find a way that everyone can have a voice.”

 

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.

4 Tips for Modifying Your Home for a Person with a Visual Impairment

Modifying your home for a person with a visual impairment is not an easy task, you need to consider both exterior and interior modifications and accommodations. An accessible home is well lit, clutter free, well organized, and safe. We share four tips for modifying your home to make it as accessible as possible for a person with a visual impairment.

 

 1. Exterior Modifications when modifying your home

Redfin Property published a guide to home accommodations for persons with disabilities

 

This first tip will certainly help you modifying your home for a person with visual impairment. People with low and no vision need to be able to get in and out of your home easily and safely. Redfin’s article on making home accommodations for people with disabilities notes that exterior walkways should be free of tripping hazards such as overgrown vegetation and loose landscaping pavers. It’s even better if the walkways are made of smooth materials such as concrete. Sidewalk lights, outdoor floodlights, and entryway lights should illuminate all traffic areas and be bright without causing a glare or an issue for a light-sensitive person. One solution is to add motion-sensor lights that will turn on as soon as someone walks past so that the person with a visual impairment does not need to worry about finding a switch to turn on exterior lights.

If the entrance to the home includes steps, they should be well lit as well. Handrails should be installed on either side of the steps, and brightly colored tape strips or paint should signal the front edges of steps or stairways.

 

 2. Account for Glare

Install dimmer switches on overhead lights when you modify your home for a person with visual impairment

 

It’s quite common for people with visual impairment to be sensitive to light. Assisting Angels suggests on their website that making home modifications that reduce glare makes it easier for these people to see while inside the home. Install interior window treatments such as pull-down shades and drapes that limit sunlight from entering the home through the top of the window. One option is tinted Mylar shades that allow people to see outside but reduce window glare.

Because shiny surfaces reflect light and produce a glare, remove furniture and other items that have glossy surfaces from the home. Mirrors that reflect light and cause a glare should be covered with a scarf or placed elsewhere in the home. Floors, walls, tables, and countertops may have surfaces that cause a glare, so it is helpful to install dimmer switches on overhead lights and purchase lamps that dim to cut down on glare from these items. You also can cover windows that reflect off these surfaces, or you can place rugs on the floor and runners on countertops to reduce the glare they produce.

 

 3. Organize Closets

Locating clothing becomes less of a hassle if clothing is organized by item

 

People with low or no vision need to be able to locate their belongings efficiently. If areas of the home are cluttered and unorganized, it makes it virtually impossible for people with visual impairment to find what they seek. The Center for the Visually Impaired advises on its blog that one of the first areas of the home to organize are the closets. Locating clothing becomes less of a hassle if clothing is organized by item, with similar types of clothing hanging together or complete outfits hanging together. The goal is to organize the closet in such a way that makes it easy for the person with a visual impairment to find the clothing and accessories they want and ensure they can choose a matching outfit each day.

 

4. Keep Traffic Areas Open

Here the final tip to follow when modifying your home for a person with visual impairment. Decluttering the house is another one of the first steps you’ll want to take when preparing your home for a person with a visual impairment. When items are in their places, it is easier to navigate the home and locate things. While many people think about decluttering closets and drawers, it’s important to declutter main living areas and high-traffic areas in the home to prevent tripping and falling.

Don’t leave items in a place where someone can trip and fall or bump into them. Try to keep items in the same place when they are not in use, and avoid moving household items without informing the person with a visual impairment first.

Another task that will keep traffic areas open is to arrange furniture in such a way as to create a natural flow of foot traffic. Try making small groupings of furniture to promote conversations or placing large pieces of furniture against the walls to create traffic areas inside the home.

If you modify your home both on the inside and the outside, you will make a person with a visual impairment feel more comfortable. Exterior and interior modifications can help a person with a visual impairment feel more at ease and strive to be more independent.

“Article provided by Jackie Waters”

Activities for the blind: 6 exciting suggestions

What exciting, sporty activities for the blind are out there?

As we all should know, blindness does not mean the end of your active life. As events such as the Paralympics and IBSA World Games show, there are a great many blind individuals who do not let their disability get in the way of an active lifestyle. You may be surprised at the wide range of exciting, adventurous activities for the blind, from scuba diving to skiing. At Seable, we specialise in accessible active holidays: as such, we have a lot of experience in adapting more challenging activities to make them accessible. In this blogpost we will take a peek at 6 activities for the blind which will exhilarate you and test your body’s limits. All of these are available within the UK or are offered by a UK company; many of them are offered by Seable. These activities for the blind are fun and exciting, a great way to keep in shape, and an empowering way to master your disability.

Sailing

Sailing is a great way of improving your teamwork and communication skills, and honing your other senses: blind sailors have to constantly make calculated decisions from limited sensory information, such as the acoustic sounds from buoys and opponents’ boats.

If you’re in the UK and interested in getting involved, you’re in good company! There are thousands of disabled and blind sailors around the UK, and our blind sailing team is one of the most successful in the world.  Blind Sailing, a registered Charity, aims to help blind and partially sighted people sail at all levels. They organise regular training sessions and racing events, provide coaching and help to enable novices learn to sail. RYA Sailability is a programme which introduces 53,000 young people and adults with disabilities to sailing per year. Their site also provides a search function to find your local sailing clubs and watersports sites which are approved to cater for the visually impaired.

Scuba diving

Scuba diving can be an incredible experience: the sensation of the current, the muted sound and the feeling of calm and weightlessness combine to create an entirely different world. To scuba dive blind may seem like an arduous challenge, but with the proper instruction it can actually be safe and enjoyable. Scubability offers courses for the disabled, from complete beginners to advanced.

At Seable, we offer a full five-day scuba diving course in the Mediterranean, with each dive around 2-3 hours a day. The course is accredited by the H.S.A (Handicapped Scuba Association), and culminates with a diver certification which is valid worldwide.

Activities for the blind - Scuba Diving

Our Scuba diving course in action

Rock climbing

You may have heard of Erik Weiheimayer, one of the most intrepid and inspirational blind adventurers in the world. Shortly after going blind, he received a newsletter in Braille about a group taking blind people rock climbing. He decided to sign up, and later described his early experiences: “Although there was a lot of flailing and struggle in those early days, the freedom of attacking a challenge and problem solving my way through it invigorated me and helped me to feel less trapped by blindness.” This “early seed of adventure” fuelled his ambition to reach ever greater heights, and on May 25, 2001, he became the only blind person ever to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. Time Magazine ran a cover story honouring him, and he was interviewed by Oprah and Jay Leno, amongst others. Today, Erik still refuses to let his blindness get in the way of his adventures, and continues to rock climb, kayak, ski and even paraglide in locations all around the world. Find out more about his adventures on his website.

If you’d like to follow in Erik’s rock holds, there are a range of ways to get involved in the UK. Actionnaires is a sport and activity club for children and young people aged 8 to 16 run by Action for Blind People. Over 16s are also welcome and are encouraged to take on a leadership role at the clubs. These clubs offer a range of activities from swimming to athletics, and, of course, rock climbing. The Bendrigg Trust is a residential activity centre in the Cumbria countryside which offers rock climbing and abseiling for disabled people of any age or ability, along with a whole host of other activities.

Tandem biking

In blind tandem biking, a sighted rider, or “pilot”, sits at the front of the bike and communicates what is ahead to the visually impaired person, or “stoker”, in the back seat. The pilot gives information about obstacles, turns, upcoming hills, and when to break, whilst the stoker concentrates on pedalling, breaking and communicating with the pilot. Tandem cycling can provide a sense of speed which is uncommon for a blind person in everyday life, great exercise, and a great way of building camaraderie. Many blind cyclists tandem bike with a friend or partner as part of the rehabilitation process, in order to aid communication and mutual understanding.

Tandem cycling has been rapidly increasing in popularity in the UK following our success in the Olympics and Commonwealth games, and there are a number of clubs and organisations in the UK for blind and partially sighted people. A good idea would be to contact the Tandem Club, which has a Disabilities Liaison Officer who may be able to help with queries related to disabled people and to visually impaired cyclists. The Two’s Company initiative by the charity Life Cycle UK enlists sighted volunteers to help the visually impaired enjoy a day out cycling on a tandem bicycle.

Horse riding

Horseback riding has been shown to have many physical and cognitive benefits for blind and visually impaired children and adults. Known as “hippotherapy“, therapeutic horseback riding has been shown to improve posture, strength, balance, navigational skills, coordination and emotional well-being.

The Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) has over 18,000 instructors and volunteers, and offers activities for the blind for all age groups. Hoofin-About take people from all over the world to go on horse-riding holidays in Wales, and can accommodate visually impaired or blind riders. At Seable we also offer a horse-riding activity, which lasts 90 minutes and is carried out by fully trained instructors.

Skiing

A high energy, physically demanding sport that many sighted people can’t do, skiing can provide a rare sense of sheer exhilaration and freedom as you fly downhill at blistering pace, slicing through the wind and the snow. It’s also a very social sport: it’s common to have holiday groups of visually impaired skiers, who get together at the end of the day and share their adventures.

The Ski 2 Freedom Foundation provides a comprehensive guide to skiing, snowboarding and other winter sport activities for the visually impaired, with a list of ski centres and resorts known to provide instruction and suitability for anyone who has a sight impairment, both abroad and in the UK. Whistler, a mountain resort in British Columbia and host of the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic games, offers many accessible sports venues and skiing and snowboarding lessons in the winter as part of its Whistler Adaptive Sport Programme.

Hopefully this post has given you just a glimpse into the expansive world of activities for the blind out there. With some ingenuity, hard work, and experienced help almost any activity that an able-bodied person is able to do can be done by a visually impaired person. At Seable we relish making our activities for the blind accessible, from scuba diving to windsurfing, and can offer you the help and experience to give you the opportunity to shine. See below for our testimony from the Paralympic Athlete Stephen Campbell, who travelled with us and took part in our scuba course, windsurfing and jet skiing:

Accessible Travel: Lonely Planet’s inaugural hangout

Accessible Travel

 

Accessible Travel Hangout

Accessible Travel Hangout

Accessible travel is a discussion on the whole that has made progress on a global scale across the board. The task that lies ahead is for greater accessible travel for all and the development of a stronger working network between every aspect of the tourism industry.

Lonely Planet claims that half of people with disabilities would travel much more if they could find suitable facilities. In answer to this Lonely Planet brought about the ‘Travel For All’ initiative to help improve the options and services available. This is not a disability rights nor social inclusion issue but the need for greater opportunities within the tourism industry. It has been suggested the legislative battle has been won and it is now time to push forward to provide a greater service on a mass scale.

Every service in the industry must work together but the first movement must come from National Tourism Boards. National tourism boards can make accessible travel easier for the industry with simple changes than can be made at low cost which will no doubt boost revenue. The EU has recently made funding available to improve services for people with disabilities. Catalunya in Spain offers a wide selection of services and options that has been directly supported by their national tourism board.

Every disability is different – there is no one size fits all. There is a minimal selection of offerings of accessible travel and within Britain where there is a more general approach. Accommodation and travel are the frequent products and services provided, only the tourism industry must look to provide every option for every disability and look to push the boundaries of travel options. The tourism industry as a whole has adapted greatly throughout history to the needs and demands of the consumer so the need to adjust again for better accessible travel cannot be considered a challenge.

Once the industry has adapted to the needs of their consumers the question is posed about how to reach the client. With new technology and social media bringing the world closer there must be a willingness and a conscious effort form the disabled community to help one another. The positive change of accessible travel is ongoing and one that just needs the right drive of people to move it forward.

 

[Tweet “Accessible Travel: Lonely Planet’s inaugural hangout @lonelyplanet @Martin_Heng @SeableHolidays”]

Accessible Travel: Lonely Planet's inaugural hangout

Accessible Travel

 

Accessible Travel Hangout

Accessible Travel Hangout

Accessible travel is a discussion on the whole that has made progress on a global scale across the board. The task that lies ahead is for greater accessible travel for all and the development of a stronger working network between every aspect of the tourism industry.

Lonely Planet claims that half of people with disabilities would travel much more if they could find suitable facilities. In answer to this Lonely Planet brought about the ‘Travel For All’ initiative to help improve the options and services available. This is not a disability rights nor social inclusion issue but the need for greater opportunities within the tourism industry. It has been suggested the legislative battle has been won and it is now time to push forward to provide a greater service on a mass scale.

Every service in the industry must work together but the first movement must come from National Tourism Boards. National tourism boards can make accessible travel easier for the industry with simple changes than can be made at low cost which will no doubt boost revenue. The EU has recently made funding available to improve services for people with disabilities. Catalunya in Spain offers a wide selection of services and options that has been directly supported by their national tourism board.

Every disability is different – there is no one size fits all. There is a minimal selection of offerings of accessible travel and within Britain where there is a more general approach. Accommodation and travel are the frequent products and services provided, only the tourism industry must look to provide every option for every disability and look to push the boundaries of travel options. The tourism industry as a whole has adapted greatly throughout history to the needs and demands of the consumer so the need to adjust again for better accessible travel cannot be considered a challenge.

Once the industry has adapted to the needs of their consumers the question is posed about how to reach the client. With new technology and social media bringing the world closer there must be a willingness and a conscious effort form the disabled community to help one another. The positive change of accessible travel is ongoing and one that just needs the right drive of people to move it forward.

 

[Tweet “Accessible Travel: Lonely Planet’s inaugural hangout @lonelyplanet @Martin_Heng @SeableHolidays”]

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