This month marks a year since I started working as OOVIRT’s Marketing Manager, how time flies. I first met Richard in June 2017 at PAMIS’s Promoting Inclusion Transforming Lives conference which took place in the Dalhousie Building at the University of Dundee. I was delivering a keynote speech about my time studying at the University of Dundee, the personal difficulties I have faced with social work and the work I do on my blog, A Journey In My Wheels, to spread awareness on accessibility and disability.
During the preparations for the conference OOVIRT collaborated with PAMIS to develop a virtual experience to help visitors know how to find where the Changing Place toilet is within the Dalhousie Building. I was asked to provide my perspective on this and that’s where my work with OOVIRT began.
From June 2017 until March 2018 I worked with OOVIRT on a volunteer basis. I looked at projects they were developing and gave my first-hand knowledge of how their virtual experience help provide the accessibility information that users need. It’s been a year since we created the UK’s first stadium virtual experience for Tannadice Park, home to Dundee United Football Club. This was the first project that I worked on as an employee of OOVIRT and the Dundee United photoshoot was the first OOVIRT team experience that I took part in. It was actually the first photoshoot I’ve ever done. At first it felt awkward, especially when we had to not look at the camera, but after a while you kind of get into the swing of things.
This project received coverage from many newspapers, magazines and other media platforms. It even got spoken about in a news article as far afield as Germany, Japan and New Zealand. Seeing this is one of the times when I realised how sharing my knowledge on accessibility with OOVIRT could make a real difference to people’s lives. The articles were also a great way for my family and friends to find out about the business that I had begun to work for and understand the importance of everything we were doing.
Since beginning in March last year as OOVIRT’s Marketing Manager I have been responsible for creating content for our website. Including case studies for businesses to promote the great work they do in regard to accessibility. I’ve also written blog posts sharing my personal accessibility experiences, as well as covering issues that others face around the world. I share up to date articles on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as well as connecting with like-minded businesses to share ideas and work together to create a more inclusive society.
I’m now starting to create videos to help share our message and demonstrate how our virtual experiences can help different customers visiting a business. This is a personal interest that I’ve been trying out for a while and now I feel I am at the right stage to use it for the business side of OOVIRT. I fear that my lack of business knowledge is sometimes a barrier as understanding the business context is critical for the content I produce and understanding the day to day running of OOVIRT. However, the team are a great support in answering any queries I may have.
Unfortunately, and ironically our OOVIRT office is not wheelchair accessible which can be a little difficult in terms of communicating as a team. However, we typically meet up once a week to share ideas and plan our workflow for current and future projects. We meet at Elevator’s Centre for Entrepreneurship which is located within the University of Dundee campus, where entrepreneurs are given expertise, mentoring and business knowledge to grow their businesses. Before I started employment OOVIRT took part in a 3-month Accelerator programme at Elevator where they received this expertise, and we have been able to continue to use this space. Our ambition is to eventually move OOVIRT to a truly accessible and inclusive space, but for now Elevator has become our accessible base of operations. You can find Elevators virtual experience of their office space here.
I think one of the best things about working with OOVIRT is working with like-minded team who want to make a difference to people with different access requirements. It’s been great networking with various businesses, sharing ideas and my own personal knowledge/experiences of living with a mobility impairment. My confidence has definitely improved over the last year, and I feel I’m still an advocate but now have a better business understanding of accessibility.
Looking back on the last year I am extremely grateful for Richard and Michael welcoming me into the OOVIRT team. My goals for the future are to be more strategic with the content that I create for our website and to connect with more like-minded people on all our social media platforms. I’m really looking forward to what the future brings for OOVIRT and for me.