Euan’s Guide offers new horizons for those affected by disabilities

When Euan MacDonald, now 42, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) in 2003, he didn’t sit round feeling sorry for himself. Instead, he returned to Edinburgh from London to be with his family and set about fundraising for MND research.

Three years later, the Euan MacDonald Centre for MND research was established.

“My family and I helped to set up Speak:Unique which helps people retain one of their most personal features: their voice,” says Euan proudly.

And now, along with his sister Kiki, he is the co-founder of Euan’s Guide, a disabled access review website and app.

When he became a wheelchair user six years ago, he discovered how difficult it could be to find accessible places to go, even if it was just for a coffee with friends.

“This meant there was always a degree of uncertainty when I visited new places. Would I be able to get in? Would there be an accessible toilet? Those kinds of things became frustrating, especially when I just wanted to get on with everyday life,” he explains.

Euan had some go-to places that soon became favourites because he knew he could access them. That’s when he realised that other disabled people would also have their own reliable shops, cafes and bars that he probably didn’t know about – but would like to. This idea became Euan’s Guide, a place where disabled people, their families and friends could share and discover accessible places online.

“Euan’s Guide isn’t just for wheelchair users, and people can review anywhere they like, whether the venue is listed on Euan’s Guide or not! We’ve had lots of good reviews for Homelands Trust in Leven and The Rings in Cupar (self-catering cottages for those affected by disability) proving to be popular, Inveralmond Brewery received a five-star review; and The McManus in Dundee has had reviews praising its good layout and wide corridors.”

The website is easy to navigate: you can filter results based on what’s important to you, whether that be a changing places toilet, induction loops, accessible parking or a hoist.

Did you know…?

Motor neurone disease (MND) is a progressive disease that attacks the motor neurones, or nerves, in the brain and spinal cord. This means messages gradually stop reaching muscles, which leads to weakness and wasting.

MND can affect how you walk, talk, eat, drink and breathe. However, not all symptoms necessarily happen to everyone and it is unlikely they will all develop at the same time, or in any specific order..

Although there is currently no cure for MND, symptoms can be managed to help achieve the best possible quality of life.

Motor neurone disease kills a third of people within a year and more than half within two years of diagnosis.

It affects up to 5,000 adults in the UK at any one time.

A person’s lifetime risk of developing MND is up to 1 in 300. That’s one person in an average size cinema.

Although MND attacks the nerves that control movement so muscles no longer work, it does not usually affect the senses such as sight, sound, feeling etc.