UK: The Blue Badge Access Awards launched with an event combining the Bespoke Access Awards and the Blue Badge Style Awards, with the support of the Leonard Cheshire charity.
With over 60 esteemed guests in attendance at Marylebone’s Home Grown Club, the event marked the launch of the inaugural Blue Badge Access Awards, a newly-created global competition aiming to celebrate thoughtful and stylish inclusive design and business practices around the world. The hope is it will inspire architects, designers, employers and staff to work together to build businesses and venues that empower everyone to feel like a ‘first-class citizen’.
The awards aim to recognise and reward exceptional venues and organisations that possess both style and seamless accessibility.
Robin Sheppard, chairman of Bespoke Hotels and Hotel Sector Champion for disabled people, said: “We are thrilled to launch the first Blue Badge Access Awards and celebrate the great work of designers and architects around the world in inclusive design.
“It is important to make access a permanent addition to the agenda. No one would have dreamed that sustainability would be so high on the agenda as it is now, and we want access to be just as high in the priority list,” he added.
Neil Heslop, chief executive of Leonard Cheshire, said awards like this were “profoundly important because they shine a light on best practice”.
He said: “Leonard Cheshire exists to improve life choices of people with disabilities globally, and accessibility is key. We work with cross-sector organisations every day in supporting individuals to live, learn and work independently, whatever their ability.
“We congratulate everyone who has been involved to date and hope many more join in,” he added.
The Blue Badge Access Awards are held to speed up inclusive access progress, as well as highlight the importance of inclusive design. It provides businesses and venues with access to a market of more than one billion people worldwide, including over 13 million people in the UK alone with spending power exceeding £250 billion.
Inclusive design aims to make life easier for people with limited mobility. Designing for disabled individuals leads to inclusive design that finds creative solutions that become conveniences for a mainstream group.
With categories ranging from Best Hotel and Best Bar, to the Leonard Cheshire Inclusive Employment award, the Blue Badge Access Awards mark and celebrate the range of ways that business can become more inclusive. A ‘Ludicrous Loo’ prize meanwhile underlines the challenges faced in a more light-hearted manner, revealing bathrooms where accessibility is an afterthought, used as storerooms or with inadequate, thoughtless design.
Fiona Jarvis, founder of Blue Badge Style, said: “Nowhere can be 100 per cent accessible but everyone can start somewhere. There is tremendous public interest in the area of accessible design, with a strong desire to honour and recognise businesses that go the extra mile for their customers.
“We call on everyone to nominate venues that have demonstrated an innovative approach to accessibility, wherever in the world they may be, and don’t forget to share tales of those Ludicrous Loos,” she added.
London’s only fleet of fully accessible black taxis, Sherbet London, provided transport access to and from the event. Powered by investment and belief in electric power technology, Sherbet focuses on delivering technological and service excellence for all riders with every accessible need.
Nominations for the Blue Badge Access Awards are now open until 30 June 2019, and can be made by anyone, anywhere in the world; either online via the awards website, via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via the Twitter handle, @bluebadgeaccess.
The categories include:
• Arnold Fewell Award – The Most Inclusive Building/Interior Design
• Best Hotel x 2 (Upmarket and Boutique, Bespoke Award)
• Best Bar x 2 (Upmarket and Budget)
• Best Restaurant x 2 (Upmarket – Conran award – and Budget)
• Best Accessible Toilet
• Ludicrous Loo
• Above & Beyond (Includes Hospitality & Corporates)
• Euan’s Guide Award
• Best Venue in a Listed Building
• Inclusive Employment Award (Leonard Cheshire)
• Employee of the Year
The winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony held on 7 October 2019.