Blue Badge Access Awards (All rights reserved)

The Blue Badge Access Awards launched on Tuesday 25 April to reward exceptionally accessible and inclusive venues in the hospitality, leisure, and tourism industry.

The 12 awards will be presented in October, ranging from Best Bar and Best Spa to Best Historic Building and Best Conceptual Design. The Ludicrous Loo Award returns, and brand new for this year will be The Ridiculous Ramp Award. Nominations are open until 18 September 2023.

The organisers are keen to set the gold standard for encouraging the industry to get accessibility right for a disabled person and making it stylish, thoughtful and innovative. There are many very good reasons why this initiative needs progress.

There are 14.6 million disabled people in the UK, according to the UK Government website.

Fiona Jarvis CEO of Blue Badge Style & Co-Founder of the BBAA says “Nominations are open to the public or any venue or organization. The Blue Badge Access Awards are about exceeding the expectations of disabled people and to give recognition to businesses and establishments that have addressed accessibility imaginatively and thoughtfully”.

Fiona added, “The very definition of hospitality is to welcome, and this is at the very heart of the BBAA. Unfortunately, we have seen some bad examples of accessibility. A ‘Ludicrous Loo’ where the chef parks his bike in the so-called ‘disabled toilet’, also used it as a storage area.

“This year we have introduced the new ‘Ridiculous Ramps Award’ to highlight how a properly constructed ramp is vital to the wheelchair, crutch or buggy user. A ramp is no use if it is too narrow, leads to a set of steps or has a tree growing in the middle of it!”

The results of the recently released 2022 Euan’s Guide to Access Survey reported 72 percent of disabled people have found accessibility information on a venue’s website to be misleading or inaccurate, and report their experience is disappointing or they must change their plans due to poor accessibility.

Robin Sheppard President of Bespoke Hotels and Co-Founder of the BBAA says “We have a long way to go, but the industry is making good progress towards ‘Liberty’.

“The freedom to go to a hotel where you are not dreading the bathroom or the toilet. Where your room doesn’t look like a hospital ward. Where the electric curtains can be controlled from the bedside and where you can transfer from a wheelchair to a hotel bed unassisted because it has been designed at the right height or even better there’s a concealed hoist.

“We invested in 18 Liberty suites at our own Hotel Brooklyn in Manchester which brought in additional revenue of £132,000 last year. That’s 100 an extra bed nights every four weeks! This along with associated events contributed to a combined income of £217,000 from accessible facilities”.

45 percent of disabled consumers have said that their choice of hospitality venues was limited because of their disability or access needs, according to the Disability Forum 2022 study.

Presenting at the BBAA launch – Ed Warner CEO and founder of Motionspot, the inclusive design specialist involved in creating the Liberty suites at the Hotel Brooklyn said: “Too often rooms for a disabled person are second rate, less desirable and often clinical looking.

“At Hotel Brooklyn we have shown that the beautifully designed accessible rooms can be the most popular in the hotel.

“Designing hotels and venues to be more accessible is not just the right thing to do but makes good business sense.”

The BBAA’s new Access Ambassador – Celebrity Chef Michael Caines MBE Executive Chef, Lympstone Manor said at the launch “These awards focus the minds of designers and architects to become creative and forward thinking for the needs of all. The future should be all about inclusivity.

“My hope for tomorrow is that spaces are designed with consideration for all people’s needs. Accessible, creative, beautiful, and above all, inclusive. The hospitality sector should be leading the way, inspiring other sectors to follow our lead”.

The BBAA has relied on HEWI’s enduring support as principal sponsors since its inception in 2016. HEWI are leading specialists in accessible sanitary solutions. Amongst the BBAA’s many loyal supporters, sponsors and partners, newcomers Blukite were announced as a new sponsor at the Awards launch.

The awards new sponsor is Blukite, it has developed assistive technology (AT) for users with any form of impairment or disability. It aims to hope to roll out its accessible assistive payment technology solution throughout the hospitality & leisure industry to give greater independence to disabled people.

With the decreasing numbers of High Street banks and the reduced acceptance of cash, there is a greater reliance on technology for payment transactions, says BlueKite.

Christopher Hamilton Founder of Blukite said “Smartphones are the foundation for so many actions and transactions, which for many disabled people can be a barrier rather than a liberator.

“Security is also a big issue so delivering a technical solution to a secure and equitable payment experience has been the mainstay of our development strategy. Having access to technology is not the same as finding technology accessible”.

Recently, the Blue Badge Access Awards (BBAA) began its search to find the most exceptional accessibility options for disabled people at hotels, restaurants, leisure, and tourism venues globally.

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