Ryan is an Access Consultant, Creative Director, avid traveller and wheelchair user.
He started travelling in a wheelchair in 2010 and began writing about access in tourism in 2017 through his blog/vlog Freewheel Weekends. He soon realised that to create real change in tourism he needed to shift focus – from consumers to destinations.
So, The Access Agency was born.
He’s visited New York, Texas, Tokyo, Berlin, Paris, London, Dublin, Amsterdam, Leiden, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Dusseldorf, Auckland, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Cairo, Alexandria and a few other places along the way.
Ryan sees accessibility and universal design through a lens of compliance, creativity and enormous opportunity, advocating for inclusion throughout the visitor economy. He loves working with people to innovative and deliver elegant solutions to vexxing visitor challenges.
He makes a half-decent café latte, is learning to speak Spanish (el practica todos los dias) and has growing more and more fond of his local magpies.
At The Access Agency we draw on our network of advisors and industry experts. We’re active and connected within the disability community and we work with gurus in Government Policy, Access Standards & Legislation, the Visitor Economy and Digital Customer Experience. We enjoy access to the best filmmakers, policy writers, graphic designers, tourism doyens, and project managers to ensure our world-class work is delivered to improve experiences for visitors and improve returns for organisations.
The Access Agency is a member of a number of associations including The European Network on Accessible Tourism (ENAT), Access Consultants Association (ACA), Victorian Tourism Industry Council (VITC), Victorian Tourism Awards (Judge 2023) and The Centre for Universal Design Australia (CUDA).
‘ABC Radio Interview - Accesible Tourism’ - ABC Radio Melbourne
Interview with Alice Zaslavsky on ABC Radio Melbourne ‘Saturday Breakfast’, December 2023)
‘Ryan Smith - Accessing the world by wheelchair’ - I Can’t Stand Podcast
Interview with Peta Hooke on her popular disability podcast
‘How accessible is Melbourne for people with a disability?’ - The Age
Interviewed and filmed as part of the investigative piece by journalist Jewel Topsfield.
‘The Untapped Market of Accessible Tourism’ - Input Doc Podcast
Interview with Tim Yeadon at Clyde Golden about the opportunity presented by accessible tourism.
‘Exploring Egypt with Ryan Smith’ - The Accessible Travel Talk Show 2020
Interview with Wheelchair Travel founder John Morris.
‘Hitting the Town’ - Inform Magazine, Autumn 2019
Article written about travelling with a disability that includes tips in planning and the transformative effect of travel.
‘Good Access is Good Business’ - Yarra News, March 2019
Interviewed as part of an accessibility article for local government magazine, Yarra News
‘The value of improved accessibility to beaches’ - 2019 Victorian Marine & Coastal Forum, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
Co-presented on the broad benefits of beach access with Bert Parker from the Disabled Divers Association.
‘The Power of Accessibility’ - Australian Red Cross
Co-presented with Rocca Salcedo on the importance of accessibility to the staff at Australian Red Cross. Conducted with Speakers Bank.
Human Rights Arts and Film Festival - Ambassador
Ambassador for Australia’s Human Rights Arts and Film Festival.
Freewheel Weekends (FWW) is a website, a vlog, travel guide and directory for travellers with reduced mobility.
It began in 2017, when I took a year off after finishing at a large tech company. The idea started as a way of recording new experiences and grew into a magazine for people with reduced mobility. It includes a directory covering some of Melbourne’s best accessible experiences – from restaurants to museums and galleries.
Further abroad there are video guides to The Pyramid of Giza, from Jerusalem’s Old City from New Zealand’s Bay of Islands and more. There’re also first-hand accounts of trying new stuff – like indoor climbing or sled hockey.
Deciding to be editorially independent and not beholden to advertisers meant self-funding, but it also meant creative control. The content proved valuable and visitors grew month on month. It’s still updated, however infrequently – though much of the content remains relevant and, we hope, useful in providing information and maybe some inspiration to travel and explore.