Who Is WheelchairSteve?
Hi I’m Steve Wilkinson, known as WheelchairSteve and I am the founder of International Wheelchair Day.
I specialise in using Social Media, particularly Twitter and LinkedIn, to help businesses attract more traffic to their websites.
In 2015, I was credited by SmartChair, a Wheelchair Retailer in the USA, as being one of the “Inspirational People in Wheelchairs To Follow On Social Media“, a list headed up by Stephen Hawking, so I’m honoured to be in such distinguished company!
At the end of 2015, I developed a Twitter process called TAPPS (Tweets About Places, Products & Services), which is being used by a number of clients and producing significant growth in Twitter Followers, Impressions and traffic to their websites.
For over 20 years now, I’ve been passionate about making the World a more accessible place and have worked on a number of initiatives to improve the situation for those people with specific access needs. Despite disability legislation in the UK now over 20 years old, many businesses disregard their obligations to remove physical barriers, first made law in 2004 as part of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and subsequently covered by the Equality Act 2010.
I have experience of taking legal claims for discrimination against a number of organisations since 2006, which are summarised in a report I published in 2012 – “Disability Discrimination Legislation – Does It Work In The UK?” . However, it has always been my aim to get disabled people, particularly wheelchair users, to share what they know with others to promote the World as accessible as it is.
In 2016, I launched an initiative called Wheelchair Ambassadors, which seeks to create a vast database of wheelchair users (and their family, friends and carers) in the UK, initially. The idea is to promote places wheelchair users go to regularly and know intimately by establishing a communication network between those on the database so that they can help each other find suitably accessible places throughout the country.
In 2006, I joined the Professional Speaking Association and won their Speaker Factor contest in 2013. Although I spoke in schools and ran training courses about disability, I’ve retired from that work. I now concentrate on helping people develop their public speaking skills in the North East of England through a number of Toastmasters International clubs I have been instrumental in launching since 2009.
I was co-founder of A1 Speakers in Newcastle, the North East’s first officially chartered club in 2009 and now fulfill the role of Vice-President Public Relations at Castle Communicators, Northumberland’s first officially chartered club, which meets in Morpeth. There are also clubs in Durham (Elvet Speakers), which was launched in 2010 by members of A1 Speakers as was a club in Sunderland (Talking Shop), which is yet become an officially chartered club. More details of these clubs is available on the website, North East Speakers Clubs.
If you think I can help you or your organisation, please don’t hesitate to contact me – I’d love the chance to work with you.
Let me tell you a little about myself. I was born with Spina Bifida in 1953 and I’ve used a wheelchair for most of my life.
Lots of my early years were spent in hospital. I didn’t start school until I was eight.
My first break came when I passed my eleven plus, winning a place at a grammar school. I was devastated when no local school would take me, but my parents, Joyce and Tommy were determined that I wasn’t going to miss out. It’s a ‘can do’ attitude that I’ve inherited from them and it’s served me well. The local authority was persuaded to give me a trial at George Stephenson Grammar School. It was just what I needed. Like the famous locomotive invented by George Stephenson, I was off like a ‘Rocket’ and I’ve never looked back.
‘O’ levels were followed by ‘A’ levels and I won a place at Newcastle University where I graduated with a B.Sc. in Computational Mathematics. I then worked in I.T. for the next thirty years, but it wasn’t my dream. I was itching to run my own business. I wanted to make a difference in the world by sharing my life experiences, to help other people overcome challenges in their lives.
I set off on a mission to make the world more accessible for other wheelchair users and people who have non-standard needs.
In 2008 I founded International Wheelchair Day (picture shows 130 wheelchair users at a rally in Kathmandu, Nepal on International Wheelchair Day, 1st March 2013).
Please contact me at
firstname.lastname@example.org, call +44 (0)7834 760375 or complete the form below.