DMU graduate’s campaign for better disabled access earns national award nomination
A graduate who used grants awarded by De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) to help launch an on-line campaign for better disabled access has been nominated for a national award.
Simon Sansome, who graduated from DMU with a 2:1 in Journalism last week, saw his life change in 2014 when he suffered a spinal injury that left him with no feeling from the waist down.
He took retirement from his work in adult social care at the age of 32 and committed to training as a journalist at DMU.
While studying, and spending more time going out and about in Leicester, Simon realised there were places in the city that he was unable to visit due to a lack of disabled facilities.
He set up a Facebook page called Ability Access in 2016 to highlight the issues, earning him a £1,000 prize from the DMU Vice-Chancellor’s Fund to help develop the campaign. In 2017 he won a further grant from DMU’s Pitch2Win, a competition for students to pitch their business start-up ideas.
Thanks to the funding, Ability Access is now fully up and running, assessing businesses and awarding them a star rating, between one and five, to indicate how accessible they are for disabled customers.
Simon’s work has now been recognised by the Inclusive Companies Awards 2018, earning his campaign a nomination for the Diversity Champion Award: Private Sector.
Simon said: “I am so happy to have received this nomination and must thank all the contributors who have helped to keep this campaign going. I also want to thank DMU for backing the idea in the form of grants. Without this money Ability Access may not have had the impact it has.
“This nomination lets all of those people connected with Ability Access know they are playing an important role in ensuring businesses are inclusive and cater for everyone.
“We will continue to work hard to highlight not only those businesses that may fall short when it comes to accessibility, but also praise those that have worked hard to be as inclusive as possible.”
The Ability Access Facebook page features videos of Simon raising various issues ranging from a public park’s disabled toilets which would not open, to shops that have no ramps.
The page has thousands of likes and total visits have now exceeded one million. Simon has also been hired as a consultant for a number of companies to advise on disability access.
The Inclusive Companies Awards are supported by businesses such as Bloomberg and PwC and recognize inclusivity work across the charity, public, private, education and housing sectors.
Paul Sesay, CEO of the Inclusive Companies Awards, said: “In diﬃcult and challenging times, using the talent of a diverse workforce is more important than ever. Considering the diversity of a workforce and fostering an inclusive working environment can bring business beneﬁts and provide a market advantage.”
The award winners will be announced at a ceremony in Manchester in November.