For many Australians living with a disability, loneliness and social isolation are few of the COVID-19 health and wellbeing issues that people generally face especially during lockdowns. Whilst a big majority of the population run to social media to form virtual connections and as an escape, a few others find the same online platforms challenging and inaccessible. For 27-year-old NDIS participant, Nathan Johnston, who has cerebral palsy, COVID-19 presented an opportunity for him to help connect people through his own inclusive and accessible social media platform: the Disability Club.
Launched a month ago, Nathan (founder) built the Disability Club mostly on his own, after learning the basics of web development and social media marketing through online courses. For a person who can’t read or write, it has been a great challenge for Nathan from the onset.
But for this young man, his goals have always been bigger than any of the challenges life throws at him.
“During lockdown, I felt isolated and I wanted to connect with likeminded people like myself. And I thought, if there are more people out there like me, they must also feel isolated during COVID-19,” said Nathan.
The Disability Club is a social media network primarily for the disability sector but is also available to wider community. Here, individuals can connect, make friends, message each other, and write posts on what they’re doing at present.
The platform also caters to organisations that can take part in their Corporate Membership ($499/year) services. These corporate members can advertise their services on the site, post job opportunities, and engage with the members.
Unlike other social media pages, the Disability Club has accessible functionalities such as a built-in screen reader, colour contrast, dark mode, text enlargement, and tooltips. It also works in a such a way where members can connect with other members while sharing posts, photos and videos.
“With mainstream media, people with disability sometimes have problems navigating it. Mainstream media doesn’t work well with assistive technologies like reading programs. I wanted a way to make it more accessible,” says Nathan.
The Disability Club now has a couple hundred members and is rapidly growing. Meanwhile on the corporate side, NBN has been supporting Nathan to develop this project even more.
His dream for the Disability Club is to reach every individual and provider service in Australia and beyond to join his growing social network.
“This has been a big achievement for me and I’m proud of myself,” says Nathan