Combining two major design competitions – the Bespoke Access Awards and the Blue Badge Style Awards – with the support of charity Leonard Cheshire, the  Blue Badge Access Awards has launched with an exclusive event held on the evening of 30th May.

Bringing together over 60 esteemed guests at the Home Grown Club in Marylebone, the occasion heralded the launch of the first Blue Badge Access Awards, a new global competition with a mission to celebrate thoughtful and stylish inclusive design and business practices across the world, inspiring architects, designers, employers and staff to work together to build exceptional businesses and venues that make everyone feel like a ‘first class citizen’. The awards aim to recognise and reward exceptional venues & organisations that possess both style and seamless accessibility.

“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” 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 so high on the agenda as it is now and we want access to be just as high in the priority list”.

Awards like this are profoundly important because they shine a light on best practice”, said Neil Heslop, Chief Executive of Leonard Cheshire.  “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.”

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 over 13 million people in the UK alone with spending power of over £250 billion. Inclusive design has a history of inspiring great innovation, from the invention of the first typewriter built to help a blind Italian countess write legibly, to the remote control, created 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 recognise the variety of ways that business can become more inclusive. The prize that nobody wants to win, ‘Ludicrous Loo’ demonstrates the challenges faced in a lighthearted manner, revealing bathrooms where accessibility is an afterthought, used as storerooms or with inadequate, thoughtless design.

“Nowhere can be 100% 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 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!”

London’s only fleet of fully accessible black taxis, Sherbet London, provided transport on the evening. 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 30th June 2019, and can be made by anyone, anywhere in the world; either 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

Winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony held on 7th October 2019.

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.

This video was compiled with the help of the InVideo video maker