Deborah Lawson

Disability Advocate

Visual Arts, Fashion and Design

Deborah is a multi-award-winning disability advocate who, since her teens, has been passionate about raising disability awareness and promoting inclusion. She has over two decades of experience advocating for thousands of disabled people and has made a significant impact in the field of disability. Deborah’s long-term commitment is reflected in many of her achievements; for example, she has helped countless businesses and organisations improve their accessibility and inclusivity, resulting in improved facilities and access in 1000s of buildings. She has also developed a comprehensive staff training program to increase disability awareness, improve customer service and create a more inclusive workplace culture, which has been implemented in over 600 stores nationwide.

Deborah’s expertise extends to the fashion industry, where she worked as a successful fashion and editorial makeup artist and stylist alongside many renowned international photographers. This experience made her acutely aware of the fashion industry’s lack of diversity and inclusion. So, 14 years ago, she began raising awareness of accessible fashion on the high street and the importance of inclusive marketing. Her professional fashion advice was subsequently implemented in over 500 large fashion stores during personal shopping appointments for disabled customers. She also ran a website, providing extensive resources and guidance on accessible fashion for individuals and fashion retailers, and was featured in articles on the subject.

To drive policy-level changes, Deborah is a member of The Regional Stakeholder Network, which reports to the government on various policies, services and issues that impact disabled people. She also supports and advises her local council on topics such as accessibility and raising disability awareness.

Throughout her life, Deborah has faced many challenges, including being in a house fire, which left her homeless for months, and studying for a five-year degree in extreme pain, lying on her back with a screen suspended above her head. She graduated with First-Class Honours!

Despite her complex and incredibly painful disabilities, Deborah remains committed to creating a more accessible and inclusive world for future generations. Recognised globally in the media as a ‘trailblazer,’ an ‘extraordinary woman who has done amazing things,’ and as a ‘kind, strong, exceptional role model,’ she remains driven by her firm belief that every individual deserves the opportunity to thrive and succeed.

“I am incredibly humbled to be included in the Disability Power List 2023 alongside so many incredible people who are also creating so much positive change for the disabled community. It is such an honour to be recognised for the work I have done over the years, and continue to do, promoting inclusivity, accessibility and raising awareness, as I passionately believe every person deserves to have equal opportunities and to be treated with dignity and respect.”

A headshot of a woman with long blonde wavy hair and blue eyes. She is looking at the camera and smiling.

Follow Deborah

Disability Power 100 2023 profile information has been self-submitted by the profile subject. Shaw Trust understands and respects that disability and impairment descriptors and language use varies from person to person. Shaw Trust assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or discrepancies in the content of this, or any other, profile page.

More from the Disability Power 100

Dr Shani Dhanda

Dr Shani Dhanda

Dr Shani DhandaDisability Inclusion Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and BroadcasterChair JudgeShani is a multi-award-winning disability inclusion specialist, thought leader, social entrepreneur, and accomplished broadcaster. She's driven change by establishing...

Simon Stones

Simon Stones

Simone StonesSenior Medical Writer and Patient AdvocateSimon Stones is an Award-Winning Senior Medical Writer and International Patient Advocate. In 2023, he was awarded the inaugural Rising Star Award by the International Society for Medical Publication...

Maria Grazia Zedda

Maria Grazia Zedda

Maria Grazia ZeddaSenior Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) ManagerMaria was a Top 100 Disability Influencer in 2022 and 2019 for the public sector and her work has been recognised for many years from being a disabled entrepreneur, trainer and public speaker. She...