Nimbus, a company run by disabled people to help tens of thousands of their peers have better access to entertainment venues, has won a prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise.
The company which only has four employees created the bespoke Access Card under the leadership of Martin Austin, who has been an amputee since his diagnosis of cancer as a teenager.
It was recognised in the Queen’s Award’s Innovation category.
The Access Card translates its holder’s disability/impairment/access requirements into symbols highlighting the barriers they face and the reasonable adjustments they might need at an entertainment venue.
Each symbol is based on a person's individual rights under the Equality Act and the service provider's subsequent legal responsibility to make adjustments.
It informs providers quickly and discreetly about the support they need, meaning they now receive complex reasonable adjustments without having to go into intricate, often embarrassing personal detail.
The card is widely accepted at major venues across the UK and beyond including Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, The London Eye, The O2 Arena and Alton Towers. Notable overseas venues which accept Access Cards include The Louvre in Paris and Chicago's Willis Tower.
The card’s information has been linked into the computer ticketing systems of companies such as Ticket Factory, making the process of buying tickets for disabled people much less labour intensive and potentially embarrassing.
“There was literally a moment when I was sitting with a pencil and a single piece of paper as the idea popped.
“The challenge then starts; first internally convincing people that the investment to develop something is worth the risk.
“Secondly, you have to convince an entire, very well established, industry that you have something of value to them.
“After that and a few early adopters, you have the challenge of convincing those less adoptive of innovation to get on board.
“It’s not been an easy journey but I can honestly say it's been an exciting one for me, my colleague Greg Johnson, who has grown with the scheme and is now our lead decision-maker, and our ever-expanding team.
“The award is also recognition for all of those who have supported us.
“As I have often told the team we stand on the shoulders of giants - pioneers who have paved the way to allow for this kind of innovation to even exist let alone thrive.
“The award is an overwhelmingly welcome signal of recognition but it is not by any means punctuation in our development.
“If anything, it’s a catalyst for all of those sitting on the fence of working with us to understand what we have to offer and take our work as seriously as we do.
_“The innovative spirit from the team at Nimbus is still blazing and new developments are underway, not including our launch in New Zealand over the course of Covid we have developments that include a Welsh Language version of the Access Card, the development of a revolutionary app and most, excitingly, we will shortly be unveiling a complete re-thinking of car parking and electric vehicle charging for disabled people.
"Watch this space!"
The Award is also being celebrated by some of the partners Nimbus has worked with over the last few years.
Suzanne Bull MBE is the Founder of Attitude is Everything, an organisation championing disabled people's rights in live music whose work has paved the way for developments like the Access Card:
“Congratulations to Access Card for gaining the Queens Award for Innovation. The Access Card has been a key player in improving disabled people’s ticketing experience in the UK for many years. The card gives people a simple means to book the access they require to attend events and attractions during the ticket-buying process, and organisers a scheme to place their trust in and use to enable seamless online booking. The impact has been felt far and wide across both audiences and ticketed industries. We know that barriers faced when booking can result in people missing out entirely. The Access Card tackles this directly and has created real and lasting change.”
Jonathan Brown from The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers has been working with Nimbus, Attitude is Everything and their membership to highlight the ongoing development expected from the ticketing industry to support disabled people
"Huge congratulations to Martin Austin and everyone at Nimbus for winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise. It is well-deserved recognition for a system that is unique in providing venues and ticket sellers with crucial information identifying the reasonable adjustments they need to make for D/deaf and disabled people and in ensuring the right tickets reach the right people. The Access Card also integrates with ticketing systems improving the ticket buying experience for disabled people, including online. It is an excellent and trusted solution for anyone looking to improve access to tickets and events for disabled people. I am so pleased that Nimbus is receiving this award for its pioneering work."