Tag Archives: Inspirational people

Inspirational People – Maud Lewis, Folk Artist

Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis

Maud Lewis

The story of artist Maud Lewis is one that has touched the hearts of many, due to her facing of formidable challenges throughout the duration of her life, and creating art that embodies the simplicity and colour of a happy life in rural Nova Scotia in the 1900s. Through newspaper and magazine articles, as well as an upcoming film this year about her life and art, “Maudie”,  Maud has become a unlikely inspiration and sensation.

Maud suffered from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), a type of arthritis that causes joint inflammation and stiffness in children, and it continued to plague her during her life, deteriorating as she aged. JRA is an autoimmune disorder, which means that the body mistakenly identifies some of its own cells and tissues as foreign. The immune system, which normally helps to fight off harmful, foreign substances such as bacteria or viruses, begins to attack healthy cells and tissues. The result is inflammation — marked by redness, heat, pain, and swelling. Progressive rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints causing a painful swelling that can eventually result bone erosion and joint deformity.

The renovated house of Maud Lewis folk artist

Maud Lewis’s House


Inside Maud Lewis’s home

She lived a life that wouldn’t be considered enviable by many. She was born in 1903 in the town of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and reportedly spent a solitary childhood, due to her physical differences to other children her age. Maud received her first art lessons from her mother, who taught her to hand-paint Christmas cards, which they then sold to neighbours, to bring in some money. She also learned to play the piano, but had to stop when her rheumatoid arthritis ravaged her fingers. Her physical disabilities brought her some early grief: classmates teased her cruelly, which may be one reason why she dropped out of school at 14, having completed only Grade 5. But it was reportedly a relatively happy childhood, until her parents died in the late 1930s, and her older brother, Charles, claimed the family inheritance and sold the family home where she had lived all her life.  About the same time, Maud fell pregnant and gave birth to a child. As Maud was an unmarried woman in her late 20s, the baby girl was put up for adoption and Maud never saw her again.

Not long after, Maud married Everett Lewis, a fish peddler, after responding to his advertisement for a housekeeper as a means to support herself. Upon moving in with him, she began to paint the entire house with colourful images such as butterflies, birds and flowers, which were nostalgic of Nova Scotia in the early 1900s, her happiest childhood days with her parents, and seemingly showing an inner contentment in her life with Lewis, despite reports that he scrounged away her supplies and income from her paintings. It eventuated that she wasn’t physically able to do the housekeeping, due to her arthritis, so she spent her days sitting by the window and painting. She brought in money with her artwork, with a sign on the road advertising “paintings for sale”, and Lewis kept the house. They seemingly lived a quiet, peaceful life.

Maud Lewis art

Maud Lewis Folk Art

Painting Maud Lewis disabled artist

Known as a folk artist, Maud was mostly self-taught, and lived most of her life in poverty without the money to buy painting supplies. She painted on the walls, on scraps of wood, card, plywood, the windowsills, anything she could get her hands on. She painted scenes and objects from her every day life – wildlife, flowers, trees, fishermen, simple colourful scenes that were filled with joy.

Maud passed away in 1970, having developed emphysema on top of rheumatoid arthritis in advancing years. Like many great artists before her, her work has received much higher acclaim after death, with some of her paintings now selling for over $125,000.

Maud Lewis painting arthritisMaud Lewis Folk art arthritis disability

Perhaps her art is experiencing a revival and has found a new audience in the present day because of our desire for simpler lives, for a return to nature, for creativity as an outlet for overstimulated brains in a world of technology. People are drawn to the naiveté and nostalgia of Maud’s work, and she serves as a timely reminder that a return to colourful childhood simplicity can be the greatest source of comfort in these modern times.

A film has been made about Maud Lewis and the trailer is available to watch below.


How Should We Care For Our Ageing And Disabled Population?

The Alf Morris Lecture Logo Colour 7

Many of us know what it is to be older, or to have a disability, because it has happened to us or to someone close to us. The Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) is a national charity providing impartial advice, information and training on independent living since 1969. The DLF website is a valuable resource for sourcing equipment and providing options to enable people to continue living independently at home.

The DLF has recently launched the Alf Morris Fund for Independent Living, which was set up to honour a man who made a difference to the most vulnerable members of society.

This Fund will help people find out about the resources available to keep them independent, and to help them make choices. Its purpose echoes Alf’s vision, in his own words, “adding life to years” rather than just years to life.

Known as the ‘quiet revolutionary’, Alf Morris, who died in 2012, became MP for Wythenshawe, then the world’s first Minister for Disabled People and later Lord Morris of Manchester.  A man of purpose and intent, Alf was a true social reformer who made a genuine and enduring difference to the world around him. His achievements included the passing of The Chronically Sick & Disabled Persons Act (1970), the first to recognise and give rights to disabled people. Adapted as a template by other nations, it transformed the lives of millions of disabled people in the UK and worldwide. And his legacy lives on.

“DLF’s mission to help older and disabled people live independently at home has long been my priority of priorities.  I believe there to be no worthier cause, nor one which makes such a tangible difference to so many lives.” The late Alf Morris who  had links with the DLF from 1969 and was its longest serving Vice-President,  remaining active in that role until his death in August 2012.

In support of the fund, the Alf Morris Lecture; Daring To Care: The Enduring Legacy Of Alf Morris Through The Eyes Of Sir Harold Evans, takes place at the Shaw Theatre, Euston Road, London at 7pm on Tuesday 10 March 2015


Sir Harold Evans


The inaugural Alf Morris Lecture will be delivered by renowned journalist, historian, writer and social commentator, Sir Harold Evans. Taking as its theme the issue of securing an independent and dignified future for our ageing population, the lecture covers one of the key debates in May’s General Election.

Sir Harold is no stranger to controversy. His distinguished career includes a 14 year stint as editor of the Sunday Times where he uncovered the thalidomide disaster and exposed Kim Philby as a Soviet spy.  He championed a style of investigative journalism that brought stories, scandals and social issues to public attention and his powerful influence changed the way civil cases were reported in Britain.  Now based in New York, Sir Harold is making a rare trip to the UK.

A personal story as well as a lecture, Sir Harold will share experiences and memories of his friendship with Alf Morris which began at Brookdale Park School in Manchester (where he was labelled ‘Poshie’ by Alf as he was the only boy in the school whose father owned a car) and was strengthened by their mutual quest to campaign for the victims of thalidomide.

Tickets for the Shaw Theatre, Euston Road London, on the evening of Tuesday 10 March 2015 start at £25 with concessions available. Guests can choose to attend a drinks reception before the lecture at 6.00pm and there will also be a celebratory dinner afterwards at 8.15pm in the Pullman St Pancras hotel (tables still available) with all monies raised donated to the Alf Morris Fund for Independent Living.

To buy a ticket, please call 020 7432 8006, email alfmorrislecture@dlf.org.uk  or visit www.alf-morris-lecture.org.uk


Product News – The Bradley Timepiece

Bradley Timepiece Beige 3

The Bradley Classic Timepiece

It is always a real pleasure to come across a product that is a great example of the principals of universal design such as The Bradley watch.  The Bradley, originally designed for Bradley Snyder, a US soldier who lost his sight in Afghanistan, also attracts a lot of interest from non-visually impaired people who love the stylish design.

Available HERE on our website.

Designed by Eone Time -Designed For Everyone  , The Bradley is a tactile watch with a retro style face that allows you to tell the time by sight and feel by using the raised markers that determine the hours, whilst two rotating ball bearings track the hours and the minutes.  It enables sighted users to tell the time discreetly, which can be incredibly useful for business meetings, social occasions or when you are in a dark theatre or cinema.

Eone Bradley watchThe Bradley’s namesake, Bradley Snyder is an ex US Naval Officer who lost his eyesight in a bomb explosion in 2011.  Bradley went on to compete in the London Paralympic Games and won Gold and Silver Medals in swimming. Along with other visually impaired users, Bradley supported Eone with invaluable feedback through the development stages of the timepiece.

The concept timepiece was put up for crowd funding and received almost $600,000 The Bradley has since been nominated for the Design Museum’s Design of the Year Award 2014; testament to its unique design and appeal.

The timepiece is a real fashion statement and can be a great talking point as it has such a unique look. These days, everyone has the time at the touch of a button, whether it is on your phone or iPad, but somehow digital will never be quite as sexy as the real thing. You may need to learn how to use The Bradley, which comes with a presentation box embossed with Braille which identifies the content and a user guide with both print and Braille.

Reviews of The Bradley Timepiece are available here:


More information on The Bradley timepiece can be found HERE on our website.

Daily Living: The Emotional Impact of Design

Accidents, trauma and the on-set of old age can be debilitating and life changing. Many things become a compromise; the clothes you can wear, the way you design your home and
the impression you make as you enter a room. These all have a profound impact on how you feel about yourself and subsequently how you are perceived by others.

designed2enable were recently featured in Empower Magazine on the emotional impact of design.

You can read the full article here:
independent living editorial – Empower

Lady Tebbit – 25 years on from the Brighton Bombing

In 2009 Telegraph health correspondent Laura Donnelly spoke to Lady Margaret Tebbit about her life since the Brighton Bombing in 1984, by the IRA – targeting Margaret Thatcher and her ministers. Lady Tebbit was severely paralysed in the explosion, but as the interview showed she has managed to focus on getting on with her life – an inspiration to anyone going through this kind of life changing trauma.

Lady Margaret Tebbit, paralysed by the Brighton Bombing 25 years ago, reveals in a rare interview why she considers herself lucky.

“The images, from 1984, are unforgettable: a brutal slice through Brighton’s Grand Hotel; then trade secretary Norman Tebbit, ghostly pale as he was stretchered from its rubble; the Prime Minister, defiant, as she addressed delegates, hours after the IRA bomb.

The story of Lady Tebbit, paralysed by the attack, and confined to a wheelchair, cannot, however, be summed up in such flashbacks.

“It is not all about one dramatic moment – about being loaded onto a stretcher, bundled in blankets,” she tells The Sunday Telegraph, in a rare interview.

read the full interview on how she has coped with her injuries here

The Silver Line – fighting loneliness in older people

If you live alone and experience feelings of loneliness and isolation, The Silver Line helpline may be just what you need. It’s a phone line for older people living alone, designed to link you with   support services in your local community. It is still in it’s pilot stages but, all going to plan, should roll out nationally on 25th November 2013.
Silver Line is the result of an article written in August 2011 by Esther Rantzen CBE.  The SIlver Line website explains how Esther (who founded the children’s helpline ChildLine in 1986) wrote about the loneliness she experienced since being bereaved, and living alone:

She was overwhelmed by the huge response from older people who shared her experience.  In November 2011 she was invited to make a key-note speech at a conference, “Vital Connections”, jointly hosted by the Centre for Social Justice and the Campaign to End Loneliness.  There she came up with the idea of creating a helpline in order to support vulnerable older people, sign-post them to projects and services, break through the stigma of loneliness and isolation, and tackle the problems of abuse and neglect.

An initial grant of £50,000 was pledged as “seed money”  by the Department of Health. A pilot was launched in November 2012, funded by Comic Relief.” (Extract from The Silver Line website)

More recently the service has received a 5 Million Pound grant from the BIG Lottery Fund.

The Silver Line’s Mission is to perform three functions to support older people:

  • a sign-posting service to link them into the many, varied services that exist around the country;
  • a befriending service to combat loneliness;
  • and a means of empowering those who may be suffering abuse and neglect, if appropriate to transfer them to specialist services to protect them from harm.

The signposting function will be undertaken by staff working from a very full database of local provision. The befriending function will be undertaken by trained volunteers.

The abuse and neglect prevention will involve calling upon the specialist support of organisations such as Action on Elder Abuse and Social Services, if appropriate.

If you’d like to know more, donate funds, offer to volunteer or find out when the service will be available in your area, contact

The Silver Line Helpline

Helpline: 0800 328 8888

Office Telephone: 020 7224 2020

Email: info@thesilverline.org.uk



Welcome to designed2enable

Welcome to our new blog page. We hope to be able to share information about products and services that will be useful to you, as well as news and stories about some of the amazing people we meet and hear about.

We were recently inspired by a story in the Mature Times about a 70 year old woman who, on her third attempt, successfully sailed around the world single-handed. Intrepid British woman Jeanne Socrates, 70, set off  from Victoria in Canada, in October last year. She sold her family home to take up the gruelling challenge after the death of her husband – who she learnt to sail with in her 50s. Now after more than 250 days at sea Mrs Socrates has become the oldest woman to circumnavigate the world non-stop, solo.

Speaking after she docked in Victoria, Canada recently, the grandmother-of-three said her achievement was a victory for the elderly. She said: “I am the oldest by a long shot – who else would be crazy enough to do it?

“As soon as you mention your age and number to other people they get very ageist. They classify you and put you in a pocket as being old and no good.

“But we shouldn’t be, we are no different as people.”

read the rest of the story here