Diversity and Disability Technologies/Media/New Media

Contributing to an Innovative, Technological, Entrepreneurial Nation






Scotland business communities can positively engage, support and unleash the talents in widening access for all. Everyone can contribute to Scotland’s economy and add talent, diversity and prosperity to society. Furthermore, globally, the prevalence of disability is growing, with population ageing and increasing incidence of chronic health conditions (World Health Organisation/World Bank 2011).A

It is becoming more prevalent as everyone will have to re-imagine and align their skillsets at some stage in their lives as we face a less structured career path and, during this Fourth Industrial Revolution, we also need to think how we structure our society and the way the innovation and technological advancement will continue in years to come.

According to the OCED 2014 report on “Entrepreneurship and self-employment by people with Disabilities”, the data suggest that in Europe and the US self-employment rates are higher among disabled people than those without. Furthermore, the OCED report cited “Promoting entrepreneurship constitutes an important part of the Lisbon agenda and the Europe 2020 strategy which treats entrepreneurship as a key component  of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Entrepreneurship is perceived by policy-makers as a means of tackling labour market disadvantage and social exclusion more generally although others regard reliance on such options as over-optimistic, at least for some groups” (Kitching 2006; Blackburn and Ram 2006).

Meanwhile, according to the Scottish Government, A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People – Our Action Plan, 2016 and some of the actions under employment ambition is that “Disabled people are 20% of the population, but make up only 11% of the private sector workforce and 11.7% of the public sector workforce. (Scottish Government, A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People – Our Action Plan, 2016). It should also note that in 2017, self-employment rate for people with disabilities in Scotland stood at 14%, was higher than non-disabled people (11.7%). Also mentioned in the Scottish Government, A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People – Our Action Plan, there is ambitions to develop the Scottish Business Pledge and other employer networks will be used to raise awareness of the skills and capacity of the disabled workforce and their positive impact on company productivity and profitability. Elsewhere in the Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that all of Scotland’s people are able to participate in our nation’s entrepreneurial renaissance and reap the benefits from involvement in economic activity.  In Scotland CAN DO this vision was set-out; together, across the public, private and third sectors, we articulated a collective-impact approach through which we would unleash the economic potential of our nation.

However, people with disabilities still face barriers to entering and sustaining entrepreneurship. Many are to do with accessing enterprise and innovation services. They include are: access to start-up capital; limited business knowledge, skills and opportunities; absence of appropriate and supportive business advisers.

Shaheen (2016),  “Inclusive Entrepreneurship”: A Process for Improving Self-Employment for People with Disabilities, highlighted a New York project based centred on “Inclusive Entrepreneurship” to describe a model that promoted change at the individual, program, and systems level to improve the rate of small business development by people with disabilities. Clearly, the US has been successful in implementing an entrepreneurial project for people with disabilities.

Now is the time to set clearly that physical impediment should not be in any form an inhibitor to being a part of the journey towards becoming a world-leading entrepreneurial and innovative nation.  This outline marks the start of an exploration to ensure that Scotland CAN DO applies to people with disabilities in Scotland.

With the knowledge exchange approach this provides a perfect opportunity to up-skill people with disabilities and develop the creation of a supportive innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem from organisations in order to help realise the economic impact through contribution to society.  The design and the implementation of an entrepreneurial support system or initiative which support those who come from widening access backgrounds would be developed through a knowledge exchange base approach which support would-be disabled entrepreneurs and measures to provide intensive, tailored support to a highly targeted subgroups of disabled entrepreneurs. The outcome would deliver a supplemented intensive tailored support on an array of enterprise services.

The knowledge exchange from policies perspective provide a platform to develop policy actions on enterprises services for those who are marginalised from society accessing enterprise services and opportunities. At present, there is very limited policy support for disability entrepreneurship and what kind of initiatives being done. One of the common dilemmas for policy-makers is the differences between those disabled people who are ‘labour market ready’ and others, but with a higher probability of sustaining the businesses created and/or supported.

The support should recognise the individual’s very particular needs with regard to starting and running a business with a particular impairment but also their specific capabilities in terms of business and management knowledge and skills, and other personal characteristics, which influence the ability to become, and remain, an entrepreneur.

Through equality, diversity and culture of, fairness and inclusivity we must enable and unlock the innovative and creative talents from though widening access backgrounds. It is now time to harness a collective commitment as I firmly believe that with the resources, guidance and connections, we can make our important contributions to Scotland growing innovative, technological and entrepreneurial country. There is a gap that need to be addressed, widening access of enterprise services and a need to be better understand the context systematically and progressively for both academic perspective and practical consideration. With the engagement of the University of Strathclyde Research & Knowledge Exchange Services (RKES), it will empower me to champions and raise enterprise aspiration amongst widening access groups in society.

Personally, I look forward to engaging, supporting and collaborating with these organisations who provide support to spin-out innovative ventures through my Research & Knowledge Exchange journey at the University of Strathclyde to foster services for people with disabilities.

Dr. Julie McElroy


OCED (2014). “Entrepreneurship and self-employment by people with Disabilities”.

Blackburn, R. and Ram, M., 2006. Fix or fixation? The contributions and limitations of entrepreneurship and small firms to combating social exclusion. Entrepreneurship and Regional Development18(1), pp.73-89.

Scottish Government, A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People – Our Action Plan, 2016.

Shaheen, G.E., 2016. “Inclusive Entrepreneurship”: A Process for Improving Self-Employment for People with Disabilities. Journal of Policy Practice15(1-2), pp.58-81.

World Health Organisation/World Bank 2011.

Diversity and Disability Self Motivation and Learning Technologies/Media/New Media

Conclusion of Google TechAbility

It is hard to believe that I was chosen for the Google TechAbility Mentoring Programme back in November 2012, just what I needed to retrieve guidance on where my career should lies or go.

The Google TechAbility Mentoring Programme has been an intensive and require a commitment from both people to work together to get the most out of the Google’s experience. I feel that I’ve exceeded that with Stephany Van Willigenburg. We were clear and passionate about getting the best out of each other.

It was a learning experience for both us as I gained a greater insight to how Google operates and what they can do and help clients and Stephany found herself learning about assistive technologies. (You never stop learning……………!)

Personally, I would like to thanks EmployAbility and Clare Bass, EMEA Diversity and Inclusion @ Google for making this happen and for opening me up to such a trustworthy contact to have.

Now, I feel proud to be classed as part of Google TechAbility Mentoring Programme Alumni. The rewards and hard work have paid off by celebrating my achievements. However, for me there is still more to come!

Technologies/Media/New Media

ParaCommonwealth Challenge

For the next few years, I will share the journey with you through one of Scotland’s top newspapaer, Evening Times and films produced by GLASGOW2014 of capturing what it takes to be a para athlete undertaking Paralympics sports that will be featured in the Glasgow2014 Commonwealth Games. They consists of athletics; swimming; track-cycling; lawn bowls and powerlifting.

It is the fear of unknown of not knowing what to expect on the mammoth journey. It will require a different mindset in comparison to other challenging projects I’ve taken on in the past but relish the opportunity that awaits me. It is incredibly exciting to be part of the Glasgow2014 project showcasing the Paralympic sports that will be performed and showing the attributes, attitudes it takes to complete in performing some these competitive sports. This is once in a lifetime opportunity, I just don’t know how to feel…………

You can follow this project is in a varieties of ways:

GLASGOW2014 website
GLASGOW2014 Video Gallery

GLASGOW2014 Commonwealth Games, Official Channel: YouTube
GLASGOW2014 YouTube

Evening Times
Evening Times

Evening Times e-dition
You can order any of the missed ParaCommonwealth features via the e-dition
Evening Times

Self Motivation and Learning Technologies/Media/New Media

Disabled People VS Online Forums

From my disability connections, I was approached by MRUK, who are a research company. Firstly, Scotrail has asked them to conduct online focus groups with respondents who travel by rail and have mobility or disability issues. Capability Scotland pointed out that online focus groups are often not fully accessible and face to face can be better, but MRUK have said that they have previously conducted face to face focus groups so this time are just looking at conducting online groups.

Due to one of my many areas of interests, is with accessibility with assistive technologies, I decided to share my thoughts on learning experiences after taking part in the MRUK research.

A question to ask yourself: is web-based forums in danger of replacing real interactions with people?

It is clear that web based technologies is on the rise and they all have their benefits to everyone and those who have disabilities. When it came this forum which I clearly enjoyed very much and transport accessibility is a major issues for some disabled people especially with the revamp of Queens Street for the Commonwealth Games, I was keen to ask the question how does Scotrail plans to cope with disruption to passengers safety without even mentioning disabled passengers too. Do they also plan to embed assistive technologies in and around the station?

During my recent trip to London last week, I was introduced to a new useful contact who is the Head of Disability and Inclusion of Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) was keen to gets my views on public transports i.e. why do like the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) in comparison to not using Scotrail much. It was merely down to accessibility issues. If more assistive technologies on the trains and at station that may assists me better.

Anyway, back to the topic agenda about online learning experiences, I feel there is necessary place for e-learning and online forums as participation process as it encourages people with disabilities to come forward and from what I gathered from the online forum’s experience more disabled people feel comfortable being upfront online forum rather than voicing publicly in open-spaces. (I know all too well – doing and delivering presentations is a daunting experience for anyone). Overall, MRUK were excellent and more forums research should be conducted this way as long as these research companies continue to meet the accessibility needs of participants through various means of technologies then this will go a long way in terms of time and cost-saving issues for everyone involved. We are inevitable going to see more web-focused programme being delivered all types of education sectors as it is their best response to slashed budgets and other factors. My generation are responding to social media and using the web as their study and to keep in touch with their peers.

The balance on the otherhand need to be strike with real interaction with people as that equally important or we risk becoming too dependent on remote learning on the web!

Technologies/Media/New Media


I have been helping BBC Scotland address the diversity strand in the media in Scotland.

It a privilege to announce that the entertainment development team at BBC Scotland is always developing new formats and looking for a diverse range of people to be involved in the process either as stand-in contestants or contributing to brainstorming sessions and focus groups.

They are currently building a database of people who are interested in being a part of that process and as part of our commitment to diversity want to ensure that we are talking to and listening to the greatest range of people.

It’s a small step that is being complemented by the inclusion which aims to improve opportunities for disabled people to get started within the industry.

We are looking for at this stage is to get the word out to different groups that we are actively looking to expand our database of people and if people would like to register their interest in being involved as a gameshow contestant or part of a focus group, then we’d love to hear from them.

If you have any queries about this project contact the development team

Every year the BBC Scotland entertainment development team is working on brand new ideas to join some of the great programmes already produced by the department, like Tonight’s the Night, A Question of Genius, The Weakest Link and T in the Park.

We often test new gameshow formats and look for feedback on the entertainment programmes you like to see.

To do this effectively, however, we need volunteers to assist with the development process. If you would like to join our database of contestant and focus group volunteers please contact the team and we will send you further details. Contact the development team

We’d be looking for people to be Scotland-based. In reality most of the people who come in are Glasgow-based but we do want to broaden to the whole of Scotland.

Key criteria for anyone wanting to be invovled is simply to have an interest in television entertainment and to be interested in quiz shows. With that in mind, a decent general knowledge is a good start, but beyond that there are really no boundaries.

Technologies/Media/New Media

Supporting Students To Engage Meaningfully In The Learning Process

Supporting Students To Engage Meaningfully In The Learning Process on Tuesday 15 June.

Julie an IT Graduate has been asked by Scotland’s Colleges to  present a presentation on the role of assistive technologies in supporting students.

This is the first of several network events planned for practitioners who are learning and teaching students with significant additional support needs. The focus of this event is supporting students to engage meaningfully in the learning process. As with most inclusive practice, many of the methodologies and communication tools designed for improving accessibility for students with barriers to learning are helpful for everyone.

In addition there will be an update on what is going on nationally in response to learners with severe and complex learning disabilities and the relevance of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) 16+ Learning Choices to this group of learners.

This informal, interactive event will provide an opportunity for practitioners to share practice, network, identify priorities for future staff development events and be updated on national initiatives which will inform and support their practice.