The media and disabled people: Lonely Planet leading the way

As a person who loves to travel and create entertaining content, there doesn’t come much bigger a dream than working with Lonely Planet. Their guides and travel coverage are world famous.

Over recent months I had the pleasure of speaking to Martin Heng, who leads on Accessible Travel at Lonely Planet. He lives in Melbourne, Australia and was born in the UK. He is also a wheelchair user. I’ve really enjoyed Skyping with Martin about accessible travel and life in general.

Martin kindly introduced me to Seb Neylan in the London office, who leads on marketing. Alongside social media guru Maria McKenzie, Seb agreed to let me deliver one of their periscopes. As I live near Cambridge, this was to be the location for my trial #lpscope.

After signing up as a Lonely Planet Pathfinder, learning some facts about Trinity college (my first of two Cambridge broadcasts, and learning about the periscope app technology; I was good to go!

As you can see below, I had viewers from around the world. Unfortunately the comments and hearts don’t show on the videos as Periscope delete all broadcasts after 24 hours. There was lots of friendly comments, questions and hearts.

Beyond sharing my home town to the world and working with the amazing Lonely Planet; I think this marked something even more important!

The media and disabled people

Following a meeting with Scope at ITN news a few weeks ago, I’m even more motivated to push disabled people into the mainstream. I’m fed up with the bravery story or the pity story. For me, we are every day people who should be involved in every day things. Scope and ITN met to address this exact issue.

My screen test for ITN new
My screen test for ITN news

To be a presenter on Lonely Planet as a travel lover, and not as a ‘disabled person’ is hugely important. If we have experts on the news for general topics, who happen to have a disability – this would be huge progress. Disabled people would be seen as experts, and attitudes could start to change.

In my last post I talked about the bigger issue of government cuts on disability benefits. This must go on. However for now, let’s celebrate Lonely Planet and their efforts of inclusion in travel (#TravelforAll). Well done guys! Looking forward to doing more periscopes on the road this summer.

Martyn