Meet Steven Bertrand, a blogger, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur based in Victoria, BC. Steven has been motivating people to get the most out of life for years via his blog and has recently launched his own accessibility consultancy, offering hospitality businesses (and others) the opportunity to improve their customer experience to those with mobility challenges.
You are an extremely positive person. When it seems that so many people focus on the negative in their daily lives, how has your attitude helped you pursue your interests?
Steven: I feel like my attitude is all I really have control over. I believe that being positive has allowed me to take advantage of opportunities others may have missed.
You started a blog a few years back called Rolling Motivation. Tell us a little about why you started it and what it’s all about.
Steven: Rolling Motivation started as an outlet for me – a way to put my thoughts and personal experiences out there. Every post on rollingmotivation.com is a summary of an issue or event I experienced and the steps I took to overcome or correct it. As it turns out, there are many people all over the world who view my blog and draw from my experiences; many of them have told me that they are able to apply my suggestions to improve their life in some way. One friend credits my blog for motivating him to pursue his passion and he is now living out his dream.
What do you think is a major misconception about those bound to wheelchairs?
Steven: That we are limited in some way. What I mean by that is, people, especially those in wheelchairs, look at their options in terms of what they think can or cannot do, as opposed too, “I wonder if there is a way I could do that? I am going to investigate.”
You recently launched We Hate Stairs, an accessibility consultancy based in Victoria, BC, and you target, among other businesses, restaurants and bars. What kind of service do you provide businesses as an accessibility consultant and how has We Hate Stairs been received by the community so far?
Steven: I provide an audit based on a 29 point scoring system which covers everything from the entrance to the building to general movement around the business to the knowledge of people working for the business. Businesses pay for the audit and then can use my suggestions to make improvements. I can also provide them with various resources to make the changes. I also promote businesses that I work with on social media and I will soon be offering more resources to businesses and consumers on my website.
It is has been amazing how supportive everyone is; I think it is due to the fact that I come at the issue of accessibility as an opportunity for businesses to make money and for people with disabilities/mobility issues to have more places to go. Those with mobility issues will also have a better idea of how accessible certain places are; some are pretty good, others are great, and some businesses are completely inaccessible.
Are not all businesses supposed to be wheelchair accessible already?
Steven: No. A new business is required to meet standards and codes, but there are exceptions such as age of the building, heritage status, etcetera.
What are some common issues faced by those in wheelchairs when out for a night on the town?
Steven: Places to go. I, personally, am very fortunate because I have a high level of function; I can stand with assistance I have lots of upper body strength – I spend three days a week in the gym and I practice Aikido as well as wheelchair rugby.
“Make an impact.”
Is there anyone in particular who you look to for inspiration/motivation?
Steven: I am sure most people would expect me to say Rick Hansen or Terry Fox, and, while I have great respect for both men, I find great inspiration from EightSix Network and other entrepreneurs. We are all in the same boat and we want to positively change the world through business. It gets me pumped up!
Seldom does one see an individual in a wheelchair working in hospitality. Why is that? What kinds of positions are available to those in wheelchairs?
Steven: Well, I haven’t really considered that myself. Obviously, being a server would be near impossible, but someone with a disability could easily work in HR, office administration and many management or marketing positions.
How can hospitality businesses find out more about your services?
Steven: We Hate Stairs can be visited at wehatestairs.com and on Facebook, and I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. And, don’t forget about rollingmotivation.com/. On Twitter: @rmotivation and @wehatestairsbc.
In five years, what will Steven Bertrand be doing to make the world a better place?
Steven: Still rocking Rolling Motivation and We Hate Stairs. By that time, I plan to have a made big changes to accessibility in BC, and be speaking in front of groups inspiring people to become a better version of themselves!