In this section Startup of the Week we feature MDM, a startup with a social goal, that aims to improve the lives of the disabled.
My Disability Matters Club : Social Network for the Disabled community
Living with disability can be lonely and very challenging. Despite over ONE BILLION people worldwide living with disability, many do not have access to the information and resources they need that could improve their lives. Many do not feel a sense of community. Dale Reardon founded My Disability Matters for differently-abled and those working with their disabilities.
MDM provides two valuable online resources for the disability community.
- The News website publishes news and opinion articles on disability issues and disability rights.
- [Launching very soon] The community site, the MDM Club, social network. It is a place for members to have open discussions of disability issues, to meet others affected by disability from across the world and find peer support.
MDM’s Dale with his seeing eye dog Charlie
In addition to the social impact achieved through the provision of services through the News and Club websites, MDM has two further social goals.
As MDM grows, we look forward to employing disabled people into as many positions as possible. People with disability will undertake roles across the business. In Australia, almost half of people with disability are not in the labour force (46.6%), compared with 16.8% of those without disability (ABS 2015).
The goal is to create a sustainable business. Longer term, as profitability is achieved, we will reinvest a significant portion of the profits back into the disability community through the creation of a foundation.
At this early stage, we envisage the Foundation providing grants to disabled people to enable them to start up their own business. When the foundation becomes a reality, it is feasible the scope may broaden to other purposes as well.
My Disability Matters (MDM) club
In my own words: About Dale Reardon, Founder of MDM
I am 45 and have been blind since the age of 17. My seeing eye dog Charlie is 7 and is my fourth dog.
I have a law degree with honours and have practised as a lawyer in Tasmania, WA and Victoria. I have owned several businesses and currently operate other businesses with my wife, Jo.
I was born in Tasmania and have lived in many parts of Australia, and have travelled broadly. So far my favourite place to visit is France. The wine, food and culture are great.
Jo and I now live in the beautiful beachside suburb of Kingston Beach in Tasmania. Charlie is particularly happy that the dog beach is very close by.
A bit more about Dale’s disability
Dale: I have served as a Director of Royal Guide Dogs Association of Tasmania and I was also the inaugural founding President of Blind Citizens Australia, Tasmanian Branch. I am currently a member of the NDIS Independent Advisory Council, which advises the Board of the NDIA and the NDIA itself.
Over the years I have experienced discrimination in all sorts of ways, ranging from refusal of entry to hotels and restaurants, employment discrimination and problems with University Education. I have also been refused by many taxi drivers and considered unsuitable as a parent by a Government Department due to my disability. Consequently I have a great deal of experience in relation to anti-discrimination complaints and advocacy. Mental health disabilities provide particular challenges in this area.
I believe that I bring a wide range of lived disability experiences to this venture and will use my business and disability experience to guide the venture.
About the website and technology
I lost my sight in the final year of school and went on to attend the University of Tasmania (Hobart) the following year and obtained a Law Degree with First Class Honors. Over the years since then I have practised as a lawyer in Hobart, Launceston, Western Australia and Victoria.
I have owned and operated tourist accommodation businesses in Battery Point Tasmania, conducted business online, tutored at University and even worked for the Australian Tax Office. I also commenced a PhD in Law but due to mental health issues I did not complete that.
I was an early adopter of the internet starting to use it for business purposes as far back as 1996 and believe in the power of technology and information. I even met my wife through internet dating!
I have served as a Director of Royal Guide Dogs Association of Tasmania and I was also the inaugural founding President of Blind Citizens Australia, Tasmanian Branch. I am currently a member of the NDIS Independent Advisory Council, which advises the Board of the NDIA and the NDIA itself.
Since 2011, my wife and I have operated a number of other businesses, which give us the skills and infrastructure to start this endeavour far more easily and quickly.
I believe I am capable of creating this venture and building it into an exciting community where we can all learn and benefit.
My Disability Matters (MDM) | URL: http://www.urbantrippie.com/