The Blue Badge Access Awards launches and questions why accessible design is not as large a talking point as sustainability currently is. Editor Hamish Kilburn attended the launch event in London and writes…
Blue Badge Access Awards has launched raising some much-needed debates around the current industry standards around accessible design.
The launch of Blue Badge Access Awards – a combining of two major design competitions – the Bespoke Access Awards and the Blue Badge Style Awards – took place at Home Grown Club in Marylebone. The occasion explained the purpose of the new global competition, which is to celebrate thoughtful and stylish inclusive design worldwide. It aims to inspire designers, architects, operators and developers to work together in order to build exceptional business and venues that make everyone feel like a “first-class citizen.”
“No one would have dreamed that sustainability would be so high on the agenda as it is now and we want access to be high on the priority list.” – Robin Sheppard.
Speaking at the event was Robin Sheppard, Chairman of Bespoke Hotels, Hotel Sector Champion for Disabled People and in turn the winner of The Brit List 2018’s Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry. “It is important to make access a permanent addition to the agenda,” he said during a thought-provoking speech. “No one would have dreamed that sustainability would be so high on the agenda as it is now and we want access to be high on the priority list.”
With the support of charity Leonard Cheshire, the Blue Badge Access Awards aims to accelerate much-needed progress. This follows studies that show inclusive design gives businesses and venues access to a market of more than one billion people across the world, a group of more than 13 million people in the UK along with spending power of more than £250 billion.
Inclusive design has a history of inspiring great innovation, from the invention of the first typewriter, which was built to help a blind Italian countess write legibly, to the remote control, which was created to make life easier for people with limited mobility.
- 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
“Nowhere can be 100 per cent accessible, but everyone can start somewhere,” said Fiona Jarvis, founder of Blue Badge Style. “There is a 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.”
With categories ranging from Best Hotel and Best Bar, to the Leonard Cheshire Inclusive Employment Award, the Blue Badge Access Awards recognises the variety of ways that businesses can become more inclusive. The prize that nobody wants to win, ‘Ludicrous Loo’ demonstrates the challenges faced in a light-hearted manner, revealing bathrooms where accessibility is an afterthought.
Nominations of the Blue Badge Access Awards, which are open to anyone, anywhere in the world, are now open and close on June 30. Visit to website to cast your vote.
Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on October 7.
Main image credit: Blue Badge Access Award/Bespoke Access Awards