From Isolation to Connection
When Nathan Johnston was younger, people told him he was “dreaming” when he talked about starting his own business.
The 27-year-old lives with cerebral palsy, uses a wheelchair and cannot read or write.
“All those hurtful things that got said to me by several different people, all of that’s driven me to where I’m at right now,” Mr Johnston said.
“It made me a bit angry — but it made me more determined.”
But today, on International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD), his dream will become a reality, as he launches a social media platform with support from a major corporate.
Mr Johnston lives on a property on the far south coast of NSW, just outside of the Bega Valley.
He uses screen-reading technology to navigate his computer and phone.
When the pandemic began, Mr Johnston went through a “rough patch” as he found himself more isolated than usual and unable to attend his normal activities.
Working from his dining room table, he created a fully accessible social media platform called Disability Club.
“A lot of people [with disability] have trouble navigating mainstream social media, as some of the content is inaccessible,” he said.
“It jumps up and down on my phone when my screen reader is on, and some of the buttons and icons aren’t compatible.”
Mr Johnston entered his concept for Disability Club in an innovation competition and was awarded a $10,000 grant from the National Broadband Network.
The money has fast-tracked web development for the platform and taken Disability Club to the “next level”.
Individuals, with and without disability, can join Disability Club for free, but corporates and disability service providers will pay a fee, eventually providing Mr Johnston with an income.
“I want to start making a living for myself whilst helping other people like myself,” Mr Johnston said.
“Disability Club is all-inclusive, it means people can connect with family and friends, hear about news in the sector and connect with services.”