What do the typewriter, the telephone, the remote control and office scanners have in common? They were all designed to make things easier and more accessible for a disabled person.

The first typewriter was built to help a blind Italian countess write legibly. Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone, had both a wife and mother who were deaf. The remote control created to make life easier for people with limited mobility. Today’s office scanners evolved from technologies created to make talking books for the blind. We have seen time and time again that designing for disabled individuals leads to inclusive design that finds creative solutions to problems a much wider group experiences to some extent. These solutions eventually become conveniences for a mainstream group – if not everyone.

The Blue Badge Access Awards has created a platform for change and to continue to inspire innovation. It is a global initiative, officially launching this year on May 30 at Home Grown Club, combining two major design competitions – the Bespoke Access Awards and the Blue Badge Style Awards – with the support of charity, Leonard Cheshire – united by a mission to celebrate thoughtful and stylish inclusive design across the world. Its mission is to inspire architects, designers, staff and proprietors to design exceptional venues that make everyone feel like a ‘first class citizen.’ The Awards are here to accelerate progress. To celebrate great work in order to inspire and educate.

“We are thrilled to launch the Blue Badge Access Awards this year to continue to inspire style and creativity of budding designers and architects across the world,” said Robin Sheppard, Chairman of Bespoke Hotels and Hotel Sector Champion for Disabled People. “On behalf of the panel, I am looking forward to seeing innovative designs this year that challenge current industry standards.”

Inclusive design continues to inspire great innovation that works for everyone. It also gives businesses and venues access to a market of over 1 billion people across the world. In the UK alone this is a group of over 13 million with spending power of over £250 billion.

“We are delighted by the interest and buzz generated around the revamped Blue Badge Access Awards to date,” 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 would call on anyone who has visited a truly stylish venue with an innovative approach to accessibility to put their name forward. And don’t forget to share tales of those Ludicrous Loos!”

Nominations can be made by anyone, anywhere in the world and are open until the end of June online via the awards website, via email to info@bluebadgeaccessawards.com or via Twitter @bluebadgeaccess.

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

Key dates:

  • May 30 – Call for Entries Launch Event at Home Grown Club, 44 Great Cumberland Place
  • June 30 – Deadline for Entries and Awards Shortlisting, Venue TBC
  • October – Awards Evening will take place at The Langham, London, 1C Portland Pl, Marylebone, date and time to be announced at the launch event at Home Grown Club in May

To make a nomination please visit: www.bluebadgeaccessawards.com/nominate

For further information, please visit: www.bluebadgeaccessawards.com

The Blue Badge Access Awards bring together the Bespoke Access Awards and the Blue Badge Style with the support and experience of Leonard Cheshire.

Created in association with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), and the Design Council, the Bespoke Access Awards was devised by Paul Vaughan of Bespoke Hotels, with the intention of finding ways for all hotel guests to have a better experience, and to upgrade the status of the disabled guest from a ‘lack of empathy’ to one of ‘joy’. The Blue Badge Style Awards aimed to recognise and reward exceptional venues & organisations that possess both style and seamless accessibility for disabled people.

The two teamed up with Leonard Cheshire, to combine missions and efforts allowing the awards to engage with hospitality proprietors and staff, corporate senior leadership and employees, designers and architects.

The awards have been fortunate enough to enjoy support from Her Majesty’s Government, peers in the House of Lords, a wide range of disability groups, the media, hospitality organisations, as well as sponsors and entrants from around the world.

The aim is to ensure that able-bodied or not, everyone should feel like a first-class citizen no matter where they are visiting, and no matter what disability, sight or hearing impairment, allergy or access requirement they may have and to inspire all stakeholders to aspire to higher standards.