Huy Nguyen International Day of People with Disabilities 2011
I am a humanitarian engineer, advocate for people with a disability, entrepreneur, traveler and portrait artist. I was born in Vietnam and contracted polio when I was 18 months old. At age six I moved to Australia with my family and grew up in Canberra. We came to this country as refugees. I spent many years using a wheelchair, which worsened my condition, leading to the eventual need to have major surgery on my spine. But I don’t perceive it as a disability; I just use a wheelchair to get around.
I have a passion for international development work, particularly addressing the challenges of minority groups such as people with a disability. Recently I was involved in a project to address the water, sanitation and hygiene needs of people with a disability in Timor Leste, and in peer group training for wheelchair users in the Solomon Islands with Motivation Australia.
My own physical challenges has given me a unique mindset when approaching real world engineering problems, allowing me to address them on a more personal and empathetic level. My diverse interests have culminated in my current work as the founder and CEO of Greatvenue.
Greatvenue is an informational website that removes the social and technical barriers that can prevent people from going out more (www.greatvenue.info). We provide specific information about venues to enable people to decide whether a particular venue is accessible for them. Greatvenue’s guiding principle is based around the social model of disability. That is, an environment, whether physical or social, can exclude people. I started Greatvenue as a way of breaking down those barriers.
Greatvenue is a vehicle for social inclusion that encompasses both the accessible venues in our community and the virtual sphere where people can come together. Wherever I go in the world, Greatvenue is my common ground – it’s something I share with, and that helps me to interact with, the diverse people I meet.
In his ‘spare time’ Huy Nguyen is a gifted sketch artist.