Jan 30, 2024

“I do what I do because

it’s the right thing to do”


Isaac Harvey lives and works in London as a freelance Disability Advocate and is also President at Wheels and Wheelchairs. He has done a variety of activities such as public speaking, featuring on the catwalk for London Fashion Week, filming, podcasting and even wheelchair roller skating. Through speaking openly about his disability and his race, Isaac provides a “voice” for the vast and still underrepresented disability community and also people from different cultural backgrounds. Last year Isaac’s hard work was acknowledged with an MBE. Isaac speaks very honestly and with humour about the challenges he faces day to day, but also the different opportunities and new perspectives that his disability has given him. Isaac reflects on how far we've come with regards to accessibility and inclusion in the workplace and in society as a whole. However, he is fully aware the situation is “not perfect” and improvements are still needed.


Read on to learn more about Isaac!


I’m Isaac. I was born with a disability called limb/pelvic hypo/aplasia, which means I have no arms, short legs, a weak pelvis so I’m not able to walk. I use my feet to control my wheelchair as well as day-to-day tasks on the computer. I also have scoliosis which is the curvature of the spine. But even though I have all of these complexities with my life it hasn’t stopped me from achieving things such as skydiving, skiing, sailing, and other things people don’t think people with disabilities can do. I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie! But it's also about using my voice to show people with disabilities what can be done, and showing that you can still have a fulfilling life although you may have a disability. That’s turned me into an advocate, sharing my lived experience online. I’m a content creator which I really enjoy doing, and I make videos which I’ve done for over 10 years now. My life is a big mixture where I'm honestly going with the flow. I don’t really have a typical day or even a typical month as it's always changing and surprising me! 



Isaac Harvey


My definition of career success has changed over time. When I left school, I wanted to make sure that whatever I was doing I was having fun doing it. I loved the concept of video editing and creating memories through that. So, when I left school I started posting on YouTube and vlogged my adventures, some of which I’ve mentioned. I really enjoyed doing that. In 2017 I was invited by my local youth council to be involved in a vlogging workshop as they knew I had been doing this. I later found out after getting through to the second round it was a competition that was partnered by the Evening Standard, YouTube, The Media Trust, and the Jack Petchey Foundation where 1500 young people had entered. They got us to create videos to show that you could edit which had a  call to action, and it had to be engaging. All of the rounds had this criteria where I somehow ended up winning this competition. 


Once I’d won, I was put into the newspapers and I was on various news channels. When this happened, I thought, “my life’s going to change now”. I thought what I had previously had fun doing would now give me millions of subscribers, lots of money, enable me to buy a mansion and so on! At that point my definition of career success changed. Suddenly what I loved doing turned into wanting views and as much engagement as possible. I quickly lost motivation as it never ended up materialising. The same time this was all unfolding I was going through my mental health journey. It got to a breaking point and I realised it was about internal happiness and inner peace, not external success. I look back at this point in my life where I have done a lot of reflection and I've come to the conclusion that if it had happened, I wouldn't have been ready for it. I know I would have crashed and burned. So, I am glad everything kind of came full circle. As I can confidently say I'm back to doing it because I enjoy doing it, rather than getting the views. As long as I’m happy doing what I’m doing, no matter what direction my life seems to be taking and I can be creative, then to me that’s the true essence of career success. 


Isaac wheelchair roller skating


You could say the proper start to my advocacy journey was when I joined LinkedIn in 2021. My initial reason for going on LinkedIn was to talk about my President role at Wheels and Wheelchairs and show people what we do with the wheelchair roller skating to professional eyes. Then July came around for Disability Pride Month. I had no prior knowledge of this month and once I had learned about it I ended up writing what it meant to me. The post ended up going semi-viral. That’s when not only did I get a bit of a voice that people wanted to hear, it also allowed me to connect with different people within the disability community, and an opportunity to learn about the vast array of people in it. A career highlight for me has been learning from others about how I can enhance my own content, such as the use of new technologies, and being able to work alongside them in different capacities. 


“I value being able to connect with so many 

people in the vast disability community, 

and having a voice within the community”


My role as Disability Advocate comes with a range of successes and challenges. I can think of a success and a challenge that both happened in the same week which illustrates this. For me personally I don’t do what I do for awards or recognition. So, I’ve always felt a bit weird when I’ve been nominated for an award and given some kind of recognition. But I’ve come to the realisation that this recognition and these awards are a reflection on the disability community as a whole, and like I said earlier it shows what we can achieve. One of the biggest successes that happened only last year was being awarded and receiving an MBE from King Charles himself. I was never working towards that so being recognised in that way was a real shock but also a great achievement. It’s still sinking in that it actually happened!


However as far as challenges go, within that same week that I got my MBE - and this put things back into perspective and brought me back to reality - I had a horrendous journey travelling to Cambridge. Lack of communication, a lift wasn’t working, taxi services didn’t have accessible vehicles and so on. I was only going to a party but I didn’t even get there because it ended up being a 9 hour round trip of not getting to where I needed to. The staff were very helpful, but overall it was very frustrating and the same feelings could be felt from them, as well as my friend who was accompanying me at the time. I didn’t let it get me angry because of the shared annoyance of the situation as well as everyone trying to resolve the problem. Accessibility has gotten better but it’s still not perfect. Day to day you don’t know what you’re going to get.


Isaac near Lourdes, South of France


Since being in this advocacy space and being able to connect with the disability community, I feel inclusivity in the workplace in general has definitely gotten better. People are more open to having the conversation and willing to learn from people like myself so they do get it right, and learning about representation and making sure their content is accessible online. But again, it’s still not perfect. We have barriers such as, people with disabilities not being able to attend an interview because an organisation is not geared up to cater for their needs or don't look into reasonable adjustments so that they are able to work even though they may have all the right skills. There’s a whole pool of talent that’s not being tapped into because of this.  And sadly there are times where one person or one organisation ends up getting it so wrong where it sometimes feels like we are back to square one. So, it’s a bit of a mixed bag but I feel we’re on the right path going forward. It's just getting these organisations to realise that anyone at any given time can get a disability and making these adjustments is not only helping those with disabilities but society as a whole. My message is that people with disabilities can still achieve and have a voice and we’re here to stay!

To read more “day in the life” articles and much more, click here to view the blog of The Careers Company. 

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