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Disability

Accessibility championed at inaugural Blue Badge Access Awards

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Accessibility championed at inaugural Blue Badge Access Awards

The Blue Badge Access Awards, which took place last night at The Langham London, has created a pivotal moment in international design by celebrating and championing thoughtful accessible design… 

Last night, the inaugural Blue Badge Access Awards were held at The Langham London with the support of charity Leonard Cheshire Disability. Thirteen winners were awarded on the basis of celebrating thoughtful and stylish inclusive design and business practices across the world.

This year’s winners included Shakespeare’s Globe as the most Inclusive Employer and Sea Containers for Best Hotel, sponsored by HEWI.

The evening included a comedy set by British stand-up comedian, writer, actor, presenter, and disability-rights campaigner, Laurence Clark. Laurence was born with cerebral palsy and uses his line of work to alter the general public’s perceptions of disabled people. Alongside this, an inclusive fashion show was put on by Samanta Bullock, founder of SB. SB is an online department store that provides comfortable and fashionable universally-designed clothes with the focus on inclusion and benefiting the seated position.

The 2019 judging panel included Fiona Jarvis, CEO of Blue Badge Style; Tina Norden, Partner at Conran and Partners; Alex Taylor, BBC Journalist; Paul Vaughan, Bespoke Access; Neil Heslop, CEO, Leonard Cheshire Disability and Karen Fewell, daughter of Arnold Fewell.

“Nowhere can be 100 per cent accessible but everyone can start somewhere,” said Fiona Jarvis, Founder of Blue Badge Style. “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 are delighted to champion these venues with Blue Badge Access Awards and will continue to do so to amplify enthusiasm across the hospitality sector, as well as wider tourist attractions, museums, and public organisations.”

“Awards like this are profoundly important because they shine a light on best practice”, added Neil Heslop, Chief Executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability. “Leonard Cheshire exists to improve life choices for people with disabilities globally, and accessibility is key to this. We work with cross-sector organisations every day in supporting individuals to live, learn and work independently, whatever their disability. We congratulate everyone who has been involved to date and hope many more join in, having been inspired by tonight’s winners.”

“We are thrilled to unveil so many exemplary winners at the first Blue Badge Access Awards and celebrate the great work of designers and architects around the world in inclusive design” said Robin Sheppard, Chairman of Bespoke Hotels and Hotel Sector Champion for Disabled People. “It is important to make access a permanent addition to the agenda. No one would have dreamed that sustainability would be as high as a priority as it is now, and we want access to be just lionised in the future.”

The Blue Badge Access Awards are here to accelerate progress, and highlight that the importance of inclusive design should not be underestimated. It gives businesses and venues access to a market of over 1 billion people across the world, a group of more than 13 million people in the UK alone with spending power of over £250 billion.

Main image credit: Blue Badge Access Awards

Global awards launches to challenge industry standards around accessible design

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Global awards launches to challenge industry standards around accessible design

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.

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

“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

Luxury bathroom

GUEST BLOG: Five ways to make a bathroom suitable for all guests

960 646 Hamish Kilburn

If your hotel welcomes all guests, including the elderly, young, or less mobile, then you’ll probably want to make sure that your bathroom is suitable for them. More Ability discusses the ways in which you can ensure your bathroom is safe for all guests…

Following on from Guide To Hotel Design article about how to made an oddly shaped bathroom safe, More Ability, believes that the devil is in the detail when it comes to making a hotel bathroom accessible to all guests checking in.

What you may find surprising, is that it’s just small details and alternations that need to be made in order to transform a bathroom into a place that’s both accessible and stylish.

Switch tiles for vinyl

The sheer variety of bathroom tiles on offer, often makes them the first choice for anyone looking to redecorate, but it’s not the only option.

Vinyl – whether laminate or anti-slip – is much safer; helping to prevent trips and falls as it’s less slippery. Of course, you can purchase non-slip bathmats and rugs too, for extra precaution. Plus, vinyl is a typically warmer flooring, which is seen as a bonus by many people.

The great news for hotels, is that vinyl flooring is maintenance-free and doesn’t need grouting, so you won’t need to spend quite as long cleaning as you would if you had tiles!

Whilst in the past, vinyl flooring may have looked clinical and cold; designs really have come a long way, and you can choose from a range of colours and textures. The end result? A stylish bathroom that’s suitable for all guests.

Install a detachable shower head

For guests with mobility issues, or those who struggle to stand for long periods of time, a detachable shower head can prove to be invaluable.

For example, if an elderly guest stayed at your establishment, then it means they can sit down in the shower whilst having a wash, which can be extremely beneficial for them.

Place items within easy reach

Having a shelf in the shower at the right height, within arm’s length makes it easier for guests to reach shampoo, conditioner and shower gel easily, eliminating the risk of leaning over and falling.

When installing shelving, instead of opting for suction cups, mount them on the wall instead – otherwise they could fall off and harm someone.

Light up the way

Whilst you may have the lighting covered in the bathroom, have you considered whether the lighting is adequate in the hallway?

For example, if you there are children staying, they may need to go to the bathroom in the night. Lighting up the route will help them to find their way better, reducing the risk of them falling over and hurting themselves.

Purchase a raised toilet seat

Higher toilet seats make it much easier for guests with disabilities to lower themselves on to, and it’s recommended that toilets be between 17-19 inches high.

If you can’t afford to replace every single toilet, that doesn’t matter. Instead, you can purchase a much more cost-effective raised toilet seat to increase the height. Just don’t forget to move your toilet paper to an accessible height, in a position that’s easily reachable.

After all, having an accessible bathroom for everyone means that you can accommodate all guests. Amending your bathrooms to make them accessible for all guests doesn’t need to cost a fortune. These five tips are simple, and can be easily implemented, but will make a world of difference to children, the elderly, and those less mobile who are coming to stay at your establishment.

Disability access at Skyline Apartments

Skyline teams up with Limitless for disability awareness

1000 549 Daniel Fountain

Limitless are in the process of revolutionising the concept of disability by correcting the misapprehension that ‘disabled access’ is a synonym for ‘wheelchair access’, thereby ensuring that businesses can better serve the needs of all disabled people.

By failing to grasp the broad spectrum of meaning covered by the term, ‘disability’, a majority of businesses are forfeiting some £1.8 billion per month, as over 75% of disabled people avoid services which they feel do not meet their needs.

With a loyalty rate of over 85% and a yearly spend of more than £3 billion on accommodation in the UK, this is a market that the hospitality industry cannot ignore. Skyline Apartments recognises this and has partnered with Limitless Travel in a move to satisfy a demographic that constitutes more than 10% of the population.

Having assessed Skyline’s facilities and procedures, Limitless will consult with the senior management team to set out clear recommendations on how they can make low-cost improvements to the service they provide for disabled guests.

Disability access at Skyline Apartments

Angus Drummond, the CEO and founder of Limitless Travel, said “Through this partnership, Skyline apartments will distinguish themselves as an organisation committed to providing the very best in accessible accommodation.”

Thiago Hahn, CEO at Skyline, agreed with this assessment and added, “Skyline is passionate about ensuring the best possible experience for all guests, regardless of their personal circumstances. Therefore, we are delighted to enter into this partnership with Limitless Travel, which will result in a more comprehensive and wider-ranging service for our guests with disabilities.”

Limitless Travel will use their innovative and in-depth bespoke training methods to equip Skyline’s entire front of house team with the skills required to provide the best services possible for guests with disabilities. The result will be an organisation that is fully conversant with the requirements of all disabled people, an outcome which can only enhance Skyline’s international reputation as a progressive company.