Disability confident: Matthew Wadsworth, Good Food Talks
30 July 2015
by Matthew Wadsworth
When I was born, way back in the 1970s, the attitude to blind people basically was: if you're blind, you might just get a job as a basket weaver or piano tuner, but that's about it.
The good news is I was fortunate to have parents who raised me pretty much like anybody else. I played guitar and fought with my older sister. We had a field beside our house where I used to zip around at 40 miles per hour on one of those little 50CC scramblers.
My parents also helped me develop my confidence. One night I was playing darts with my father. I kept missing the board and I became incredibly frustrated. My father calmly sat me down and explained we lived in a world which was designed for people who could see. He told me that I would just need to work harder and find ways to do things, but that that was OK.
This was the night I realised whatever I wanted to do in life was completely down to me. It was my responsibility to find ways to do things and solutions to my own problems.
It has been a philosophy that has carried me ever since. At age of eleven I decided to sell the motorbike and concentrate exclusively on music. I studied (and played) hard and got a place at the Royal Academy of Music.
I switched from guitar to lute when I was at college, and became an international musician, playing concerts all over the world. To date I have made six CDs. There was no braille or screenreader equivalent for written lute music, so I developed my own version.
But while music is a great profession, it can also be financially unstable. So in 2007 I decided to branch out.
I decided to see if I could solve the problem of restaurant menus not being accessible for visually impaired diners, and people with other reading difficulties. Together with my wife Kate, I founded a company called Good Food Talks, an internet-based company which makes restaurant menus completely accessible.
Now in its third year, Good Food Talks is a thriving company. We have eight staff, and there are over 800 venues on our system. Long story short, I have found a way to engage with two things I have always loved; technology and people. And I have a steady income.
So my attitude in life, which has enabled me to be confident with my disability, is that if you have an idea, it’s just a question of working out what steps need to be taken in order to get you from one point to the next.
And here is my secret: you don’t even need to know all the steps, you just need to know the next step, and have the confidence to take it.
Matthew Wadsworth is an international lutenist and founder of Good Food Talks.