Despite having a physical disability, these eight entrepreneurs are defying the odds and are making a massive impact on society.
Izzy Keane, Izzy Wheels (main image)
Founded by sisters Ailbhe and Izzy Keane, Izzy Wheels transforms wheelchairs from a medical device into a piece of fashion and self-expression. The brand was started by Ailbhe as her final year college project when she attended The National College of Art and Design (NCAD) in 2015. Izzy Wheels has won 15 national awards and both sisters were named on Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2018.
Nikki Bradley, The Motivation Factory
In 2013, after being told she would remain on crutches permanently, Nikki set up a fitness-based awareness campaign called Fighting Fit for Ewing’s, where she regularly partakes in physical challenges to highlight the importance of exercise for rehabilitation. One of her more recent challenges resulted in her becoming the first person to scale four Irish mountain peaks on crutches in 32 hours.
Stephen Cluskey and Noelle Daly, Mobility Mojo
Founded by Stephen Cluskey and Noelle Daly, Mobility Mojo is an award-winning platform that helps hotels to show all the accessibility features they offer and embed them into their website. Mobility Mojo is the world’s first globalised standard for accessibility and has a mission to open the world to everyone.
Sean Connick, Disabled Driving Solution/Sean Connick Consulting
Sean was very sadly left paralysed after he was struck by a car when cycling in 1977. In 2007, he became the first TD in the history of the state to be elected as a wheelchair user. After leaving office, Sean has created his own vehicle business, Disabled Driving Solutions, adapting vehicles to accommodate disabled drivers. He also runs his own consulting business.
Diarmuid Corry, Acra Control Ltd
A graduate of DCU, Diarmuid co-founded several companies, the most successful of which is Acra Control Ltd. which was sold in 2012 for close to €40 million. While in his twenties, Diarmuid was in an unfortunate road accident, resulting in being paralysed from the chest down. He now travels the world working as a consultant engineer, and in 2018, Diarmuid was appointed to the board of Bus Eireann so that ‘all people in Ireland voice can be heard with regard to inclusion in the Irish transport system’.
Sarah Dullea, Sarah’s Art of Beauty
Having qualified as a make-up and beauty artist, Sarah Dullea, who has spina bifida, found it very difficult to find a job that met her accessibility needs, due to using a wheelchair. Sarah recently decided to start her own salon, Sarah’s Art of Beauty Salon and recently opened a new unit in the Crann Centre in Cork.
Shelly Gaynor, ShellyonWheels
According to her profile on The Irish Human Right and Equality Commission, “Shelly Gaynor is chairperson of Independent Living Movement Ireland, with a passion for technology, in particular assistive technology and the barriers it can break down for disabled people. Shelly sees technology as putting everyone on an even playing field and human rights for disabled people are very important to her. Shelly directs a Personal Assistants Service through her own company ShellyonWheels. Giving disabled people complete control over their own lives is very important to Shelly.”
Matt McCann, Access Earth
Access Earth was started by Matt McCann after a visit to London for the Paralympic Games. Matt lives his life with cerebral palsy and has always been determined to improve the world around him through his skills and experiences, both personal and professional. Matt found that the accessibility information he needed while in London was either unreliable or simply not there, so he set out to address this issue.
Published: 18 February, 2020
Photo: Twitter: @Izzy_Wheels