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Q&A: Neil Milliken, Co-Founder, AXSChat
18 August 2016


The IPC Academy Campus will take place in Rio de Janeiro between 6-17 September 2016, giving stakeholders of major sports events the chance to learn from their peers during the Paralympic Games. Delivered by the IPC Academy - the educational division created in 2009 as a partnership between the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the World Academy of Sport (WAoS) – the 2016 IPC Academy Campus is a unique event-based learning initiative that will include an Observers’ Programme, Games Experience Programme, Inclusion Summit and Closing Cocktail Reception.

The Social Media Partner of the Inclusion Summit at the IPC Academy Campus is AXSChat, an open online community of individuals dedicated to creating an inclusive world. Here, IPC Academy Campus speaks to AXSChat’s Co-Founder Neil Milliken, about how the community has leveraged social media to grow awareness of inclusivity issues.


Why did you launch AXSChat?

“We believe that accessibility is for everyone. Social media has a great power to connect people and we hope to accomplish and encourage in-depth discussions and spread knowledge about the work people are doing to enable greater access and inclusion through whatever means. We believe that AXSChat is a great example of how social media and communication tools allow people to come together and break down silos. We host weekly video interviews and twitter chats with people who are contributing to making the world a more inclusive place through technology or innovating to enable wider participation in society for people with disabilities. 

“We created AXSChat because we wanted to broaden the conversation about ways society can benefit from accessibility and inclusion of persons with impairments. In the beginning, myself and my fellow AXSChat co-founder Antonio Santos reached out to Debra Ruh to propose a partnership to create a weekly chat to help engage all stakeholders in conversations with a goal being to help break down barriers. People often consider accessibility to be a narrow technical issue and we know that it is much wider. Our goal was also to give persons with impairments a bigger voice on social media.

“Each of the founders has personal stories that connect us to the community of persons with impairments, either physical or learning. Debra has a daughter with Down’s syndrome, parents that acquired physical impairments and two nephews with autism. I am dyslexic and have parents with acquired physical impairments. Meanwhile, Antonio has a wife with fibromyalgia. 

“Consequently, we are personally connected with the community of persons with impairments and dedicated to raising the profile of talented individuals to ensure that their voices are heard all over the world.

“We pride ourselves on the fact that the inclusivity topics that we cover on AXSChat are very diverse, ranging from talks about innovation, employment, ICT accessibility, built barriers, digital divide, different types of impairments, accommodations and adaptions, laws, litigation, trends, media, marketing, politics and empowerment of all persons with impairments.”


Why did AXSChat want to become the Social Media Partner of the IPC Academy Campus?

“We know that the Paralympics puts a global focus on the capabilities of persons with physical impairments in a way that no other event can. We believe that participating in the IPC Academy Campus will help kick-start more great conversations that lead to collaborations and partnerships that result in a more inclusive world.”


What will AXSChat be doing during the Inclusion Summit at the Campus to encourage debate?

“We will be tweeting the proceedings and asking topic-related questions of the speakers which we will then share with a global audience using the #inclusionsummit hashtag.”


How important is the subject of inclusivity to the sports industry and indeed other sectors?

“Inclusivity has always been important, but awareness of its importance is growing. The London 2012 Paralympic Games were a watershed moment in terms of improving and increasing public perception and I hope that the Rio 2016 Games will build on that legacy.”


Do you think people are getting better at embracing inclusivity generally? Is the sports industry better at being inclusive than other industry sectors in your opinion?

“I think that sport is doing better than the mass media in some respects, there is a significant amount of sporting activity that is designed to be inclusive from grassroots to elite events. There is still work to be done in terms of access to stadia and understanding the widest variety of needs, but the situation is improving.”


What would be your advice to organisations in any industry looking to improve their inclusivity policies and procedures?

“Dialogue is important. Talk to customers with impairments and consult widely. Don’t think that accessibility and inclusion is a one-time deal, it’s a journey that we are all travelling on and one where even the most inclusive of us still have much to learn.”


About IPC Academy Campus

The IPC Academy Campus will take place in Rio de Janeiro between 6-17 September 2016.

Its Event Partners include the Adecco Group and the UK’s Department for International Trade. Its Media Partners are Sportcal (Intelligence Partner), Major Events International (Digest Partner), Around the Rings (Online Partner), Host City (Magazine Partner) and AXS Chat (Social Media Partner).

For further information about the the IPC Academy Campus, please visit or contact Claire Bennett, Project Coordinator, World Academy of Sport

Tweets can be shared using: #CampusRio2016  and/or #inclusionsummit.