2 December 2022

Disability Club giving a voice to those who need it

| Zoe Cartwright
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Nathan Johnston

Brogo man Nathan Johnston is the driving force behind Disability Club. Photo: Supplied.

Last year we were all sitting at home, many of us lonely. Brogo man Nathan Johnston decided to do something about it.

The 28-year-old was born with cerebral palsy, and was particularly at risk should he or anyone in his home catch COVID-19.

“I was feeling isolated because I couldn’t get out, and I thought if I felt like that so would other people with disabilities,” he said.

“So Disability Club really came together out of lockdown.”

Nathan had previously run websites, which gave him the confidence to set up his own social network, dubbed Disability Club.

He was also intimately familiar with the challenges many people with disabilities face when navigating social media.

Often, websites aren’t built with accessibility in mind, and do not work well with screen readers or other assistive technology.

It can also be difficult for users to find content that is relevant to them.

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Disability Club addresses both of those issues and, fittingly, was launched on the International Day of People with Disability, 3 December, 2021.

“We’ve just launched a new news feature, which has been really interesting,” Nathan said.

“It works off a program where we can pull in a newsfeed about the disability sector, so content about services and stories about people with disability.

“It makes it easier for users of the platform to find information relevant to them.”

He says the update came from listening to users’ feedback, one of the most challenging but rewarding aspects of running the website.

Nathan has spent the past year working on the site to make it more accessible to people with disabilities.

“I enjoy it all, I enjoy being challenged and I just enjoy the experience,” he said.

“It’s been a lot of fun, but seeing people come on and use the platform to talk and message each other has definitely been the most rewarding part.

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“Disability organisations and service providers can also use the platform, as well as people without disability.

“I think having everyone come together in one spot where they can communicate clearly does help people with disability to advocate better for themselves.”

Nathan believes initiatives such as Disability Club, as well as popular TV shows like Love on the Spectrum, have helped change people’s ideas about what it means to live with a disability.

Over the next year, he hopes to continue to grow the site, attract more users and include extra features.

The business also serves as an income stream for Nathan – individuals, with and without disability, can join Disability Club free, but corporates and disability service providers pay a fee.

He has also launched a Patreon page for anyone keen to support his work. You can join Disability Club here.

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