Entrepreneur Andre Johnson knows how much easier life could be for people with disabilities - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Entrepreneur Andre Johnson knows how much easier life could be for people with disabilities

Andre’s company, LiveEquipd, is a platform that empowers people with paralysis-related disabilities and life needs to find products, assistive technology and innovations they need. This technology serves as a care tool for those health professionals that serve them as well.

Image courtesy Lynn Renee Photography

LiveEquipd and Andre’s relationship to Chicago’s 1871 incubator both stemmed from gun violence.

This profile is part of a series that highlights MPC's work with policy experts, service providers, advocates, and paratransit users to create a vision for a better transportation system. Each of these stories is featured in "Toward Universal Mobility"—a groundbreaking report that includes 32 policy recommendations designed to unlock opportunities for older adults and people with disabilities.

“If it’s going to cost me to have peace of mind and travel with ease, I’ll spend extra dollars.”

Andre Johnson is in a make-it-happen moment. An entrepreneur with a background in engineering, in 29 days he will attend a Pitch Night through a renowned Chicago technology incubator. In 29 days, he will pitch his business idea to the public and investors, people with the power to make or break his entrepreneurial dreams. He needs to knock it out of the park.

That means for Andre, right now, every moment counts. A wheelchair user, he cannot afford to wait around for a late paratransit van. He finished his bachelor’s degree and hustled, so he has earned himself a few cab and UberWAV rides.

“If it’s going to cost me to have peace of mind and travel with ease, I’ll spend extra dollars,” Andre said. “Stuff happens on the train. On the bus, people will have to move for me and they won’t want to. Of course I could save money if the system were more efficient — it makes me angry — but I’m going to do what’s best for me, for my mental state, for the things I’m trying to do in the world. I’m gonna worry about that, rather than how screwed up the system is.”

Andre’s company, LiveEquipd, is a platform that empowers people with paralysis-related disabilities and life needs to find products, assistive technology and innovations they need. This technology serves as a care tool for those health professionals that serve them as well.

LiveEquipd, and Andre’s relationship to Chicago’s 1871 incubator, both stemmed from gun violence. Shortly after high school graduation, he and a friend were carjacked and shot. Andre woke up with a spinal cord injury. His friend didn’t wake up.

“That was my brutal introduction to disability,” Andre said. “I was left with — what do I do now? How am I going to navigate this?” A series of hospital stays, nursing home stints, coincidences, and hard work led Andre to create LiveEquipd.

Andre knows how much easier life could be for people with disabilities. Paratransit vans would be trackable on your cell phone. More CTA stations would be wheelchair accessible. Rides would not be over two hours late. The Chicago region’s transportation network, Andre can’t fix himself. But with his business, LiveEquipd, he can do his best to make everything perfect.

Explore more of the stories in this series.

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For more than 80 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has made the Chicago region a better place to live and work by partnering with businesses, communities and governments to address the area's toughest planning and development challenges. MPC works to solve today's urgent problems while consistently thinking ahead to prepare the region for the needs of tomorrow. Read more about our work »

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