By: Courtney Rehman

Deirdre Gower

What inspired the name of your blog? I am the co-founder of an NPO that focuses on taking children with disabilities on all sorts of adventures like, zip lining, river rafting, horse riding, boat cruises, helicopter rides etc. As such, we are always looking for and finding tourism establishments that are accessible for people with disabilities. It has been my long-time goal to create a one-stop platform showcasing universally accessible tourism in South Africa and so the obvious name choice was Accessible South Africa.

How long have you been blogging for? I have been blogging since I started this wonderful adventure in Cape Town with my son, who is a wheelchair user. My first blog was called Warrior On Wheels Adventures and my very first post was in March 2012, about our trip on the City Sightseeing Bus with a visit to World of Birds. The content was later moved across to the Warrior On Wheels Foundation website when the NPO was launched in 2015, so it is still alive. My personal blog changed faces over those years and eventually morphed into one space for my collection of interests at its current home, Harvesting Acorns. But my niche is disabled travel and adventure and so I have come full circle back to my original content with the Accessible South Africa blog, though it is taking a more professional approach as one aspect of a business created to support the NPO, rather than a personal journey. I still dabble from time to time on my personal blog, but it is not my focus anymore.

What difficulties did you come across when you first started blogging? With vast interests I struggled to pinpoint one theme for my blog and a consistent voice, so I ended up with a couple of blogs for different topics. It started with the one documenting my adventures with my son and then a personal one for my life experiences and creative writing and yet another when I started writing about an extended road trip we set out on, coming back to the travel theme. This made it challenging to keep consistently posting and therefore to grow an audience.

What do you think new bloggers need to know about blogging that most people don’t? Find your niche – know what you want to share with the world and who your desired audience is. It takes time, effort, discipline and creativity. Sometimes, as much as you love writing, being committed to a blog becomes work and that can change the way you experience the joy of writing. That’s not to say the joy of writing disappears, it just changes when it evolves from being purely a creative expression of yourself to a routine of creating content for others. It’s important to remember why you’re blogging and to keep true to yourself.

What would you say has been a highlight of your blogging career thus far? I think a period where I was part of a travelling media team, regularly visiting new places and eagerly sharing about them afterwards was a highlight – sharing great times with awesome people while travelling together is a memory I will treasure. Also, most definitely being commissioned to interview a number of celebrities in the theatre world – even though the magazine never went to print, that experience of engaging with them, hearing their passion for their art and crafting a story from their words was instrumental in building my confidence, skill and awareness as a writer and of course being able to include that content on my blog. Being invited to guest blog and earning an income to blog for other sites or magazines, is definitely a gold star as a blogger.

Who are your favourite bloggers? I must admit I don’t always have time to read everybody’s blogs all of the time, but the ones that I do keep an eye on are mostly travel related, even if it’s just reading their social media posts to live vicariously through their travels and experiences and catching their highlights. Those tend to be people I actually know, have met, or are local, so those I’m currently looking at would be Rose Bilborough (GoTravelBug), Di Brown (The Roaming Giraffe) and Briony Chisholm (Navelgazing 101). Briony has such a humorous and witty way about her writing, whether in her blogs or social media posts and so I always find her posts entertaining as well as insightful. I’ve also recently met and have started reading Dorothée Lefering’s blog, The Touristin.

Which is the most read blog post on your blog and why do you think people like it? My blog section is relatively new, I also have some of our team members contributing articles. So looking at website stats, our most read post is not my own, it is a post called “The Way Things Should Always Be” and it is the writer, who is a wheelchair user, sharing his positive experience at an establishment. The feedback we have received on this post has been great, I think it gives other travellers with disabilities a first-hand experience of a potential destination and insight for other establishments on a benchmark for accessibility to strive for. For my own, it would be a post titled “10 Wheelchair Accessible Attractions for Kids in Cape Town.” As parents, we’re always looking for things to do!

What else do you do besides blogging? I am the co-founder of Warrior On Wheels Foundation, an NPO which partners with members in the tourism industry to provide adventure experiences for children with disabilities. I am also a horse trail guide in a game reserve and a freelance website designer and social media manager.

Where do you see your blog in the next two years? I hope to have more collaboration from other bloggers with disabilities and to see a content-rich site brimful of experiences that are accessible for all people, whether they are wheelchair users, visually or hearing impaired, elderly, intellectually challenged, or parents with babies in prams. I would love for my blog to be the go-to resource for travellers with disabilities.

Do you look at your blog as a business, hobby or as a portfolio? Previously, my personal blog was a hobby, a way to freeze time, make sense of the world around me and express the beauty of experiences. But with Accessible South Africa it is a business of passion. I am passionate about my topic and there is definitely opportunity for collaboration on the blog, but the website that is the home of my blog is primarily a travel website showcasing universally accessible tourism products, with the blog complementing the content.

Social Media Links:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AccessibleSouthAfrica
Instagram: www.instagram.com/AccessibleSouthAfrica
Twitter: www.twitter.com/AccessibleSA
Website: www.accessiblesouthafrica.co.za

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