Scottish Social Enterprise Neatebox has won the prestigious international Zero Project Award for Innovative Practice & Policies for their Welcome App.
Released in 2017, Welcome addresses issues of inadequate customer service for visitors with specific accessibility requirements caused by a lack of disability awareness and/or confidence of staff members.
The free app allows users to request visits to participating venues, indicating any access requirements or specific assistance venues need to have an awareness of in advance.
Venues include major high street banks, cafes, shops and hotels, the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government buildings, and SCOVI members such as Forth Valley Sensory Centre, Seescape and Guide Dogs Scotland.
Neatebox describes the app’s key aim as facilitating “the communication between customers and customer service staff to create long-lasting and mutually respectful relationships.”
The Zero Project focuses on the rights of persons with disabilities globally providing a platform to share the most innovative and effective solutions to problems that persons with disabilities face. Its sole objective is to assist in creating a world without barriers.
Each year the Zero Project awards highlight the innovative and transformative work of organisations across the globe within key themes taken from the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UN CRPD).
Neatebox founder Gavin Neate described the award as “momentus news” and told SCOVI: “Having attended a previous Zero Project Awards Conference I was instantly smitten with the positive attitude across the organising body and the delegates. Their drive for positive social change is tangible and it was impossible not to feel that I had found my spiritual home. For ‘Welcome’ to have been adjudged to have achieved the high level they demand from their “world changers” leaves me feeling even more positive and dedicated to my cause than ever before and I can’t wait to turn the next page in this great adventure.”
SCOVI’s Chief Executive Maggie Chapman said: “Huge congratulations to Neatebox for their well deserved Zero Project Award. It is the dedication, innovation and hard work of Scottish enterprises like this that can help break down societal barriers to create a Scotland in which people with vision impairments lead independent and included lives.”
While the Welcome App has been well received within the vision impairment community across Scotland, the app provides assistance for people with any disability. Specific information relating to any user’s needs – whether it be physical requirements, hearing loss or information on autism – can all be accessed by the venue ahead of a visit, empowering staff to ensure that all visitors can gain equal access to services.
Scottish charity ENABLE Scotland, the largest member-led learning disability organisation in Scotland, were also awardees for their work in creating easy-read voting guides to support people with learning disabilities to vote.