The interview with Emma Muldoon was conducted by Uplifting Voices in December 2020.
“Although we may all have differences and disabilities, we also have many similar experiences that help bring us together.” - UK's leading disability & accessible travel blogger
Emma was encouraged to start a disability travel blog based on her extensive and often bad travel experiences as a wheelchair user. Started in 2014, Simply Emma is a leading travel and disability blog helping wheelchair users improve their travel experiences. Emma’s goal is to encourage everyone to explore local and faraway places. She also wants to raise awareness by applauding and encouraging good accessibility examples. She is a columnist for the Falkirk Herald and the Able Magazine and has been featured in numerous publications such as Elle, Business Insider, and BBC. Emma has been recognized for her work through awards such as UK’s Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award and was included in The Shaw Trust Power 100. As an advocate she has also participated in the I am Number Seventeen campaign to raise awareness for rare diseases.
How and when did you decide to come up with your blog, Simply Emma?
E: I had been thinking of starting a blog for a long time before I finally decided to go for it in 2014. It was around the time when my partner and I had been travelling a lot and we found ourselves frustrated at the lack of accessibility wherever we went. These bad experiences inspired me to write about them in the hopes of raising awareness and making change as well as highlighting when accessibility was done right.
How do you prepare before traveling to new places?
E: Travelling as a wheelchair user can be challenging, but is it without a doubt possible and completely worth it. I’ve found planning to be key when preparing to travel to new places. I do research on the place I’m visiting by finding out how accessible public transportation is, what attractions are wheelchair accessible, the hotel’s accessibility etc.
What has been your most memorable travel destination and why?
E: I have special memories from each place I visit, but one of the most memorable was being able to play on the sand with my nephew for the very first time. This was during a trip to Barcelona and I was using a beach wheelchair for the first time they enabled me to go in the sea and play on the beach with him. It was a fantastic moment that means a lot to me.
How do you face obstacles in life? What keeps you moving forward?
E: It isn't always easy, but I try and keep a positive attitude when facing challenges. And when living with a disability, there are many challenges but personally, I find it best to deal with them head-on and one day at a time. It’s important to remember that there will be good days and bad days. My parents have always told me, even as a young child, that I have a great determination that helps me push forward and overcome obstacles.
What are your other hobbies?
E: I love to explore the outdoors with walks in nature. I love music - I am always listening to it and love going to live music events. I enjoy painting and reading when I have some down time.
What is your favorite place to visit? What do you love about that place?
E: That's such a difficult question for me to answer as I've loved so many places and there are so many more still to visit. But if I really had to choose, it would probably be Barcelona and New York. I've visited both cities several times and made lots of happy memories from both.
What is your suggestion for families of children with disabilities to empower their children?
E: I think the best thing is to treat them the same as anyone else. Just because they have a disability doesn't mean they should be treated any differently or made to feel like their disability is something negative or that they are a burden. Of course, recognise their disability and help them realise their strengths and not just their differences.
Any special message for our community?
E: Be kind to yourself and others. The disabled community is full of amazing and supportive people so don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Although we may all have differences and disabilities, we also have many similar experiences that help bring us together.