Disability-Smart Diversity & Inclusion Practitioner Award – 2019

A person is pictured speaking to the camera

Winner – Neil Milliken, ATOS

What we were looking for

Amazing work done by a person directly at the coalface. We were looking for someone who has made real changes at the front line to improve disabled people’s experiences. These are people who are all too often unnoticed, but we wanted to celebrate them and their work.

What did he do?

As Global Head of Accessibility, Neil has overhauled ATOS’s accessibility policies by creating and implementing a Global Accessibility Policy. This applies across ATOS’s work so that accessibility is uniformly prioritised throughout their operations. He’s also worked hard to communicate the new policy to colleagues, so they can understand it and implement it proactively.

Another key focus of his work is external engagement. One example is AXS Chat: a Twitter account that brings together leading voices in accessibility in a weekly chat session. He also arranges and speaks at accessibility events internationally including Global Accessibility Awareness Day events across seven countries. He works extensively with external partners, such as Valuable 500 and the International Paralympic Committee.

Why did he win?

It is hard to question the extent of Neil’s impact on disabled colleagues at ATOS. He has worked to transform ATOS’s accessibility policies into dynamic and comprehensive priorities throughout their work. ATOS is a large and complex organisation, yet Neil has successfully placed accessibility at the heart of ATOS’s work.

He is an active advocate for accessibility both internally and externally. Neil has engaged colleagues and partners to promote accessibility as a priority throughout the sector. He’s an invaluable resource to ATOS as they continue to make their operations as accessible as possible.

Watch Neil's acceptance video here:

Highly commended – Discover UCL Summer School for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students team

What did they do?

‘Discover UCL’ is a three-day residential summer school for deaf and hearing impaired sixth form students at UCL to prepare them for university. They run the programme with 15 students each year, completely free of charge. The programme was created and run by Manjula Patrick, Sannah Gulamani, Alison Forbes and Charles Boonchareon.

The aims of the summer school are to:

·         Role model and mentor– the summer school calls upon current and former students who are deaf or hard of hearing to talk about their experiences and give advice.

·         Reassure – they explain all the ways in which UCL is accessible to them, and that they can ask for and support and adaptations if they need them.

·         Boost confidence – they recognise that university can be daunting for everyone, but especially for deaf and hard of hearing students. This programme gives students a realistic idea of what they can expect and help them through the process of applying to and entering university.

Why were they highly commended?

We wanted to commend them for taking such significant steps to combat the disadvantage deaf and hearing-impaired students face. Discover UCL pays care and attention to the needs of deaf prospective university applicants, and the course is highly tailored to their needs as individuals.

This programme has a huge direct impact for deaf students. The Discover UCL team didn’t fit neatly into this category as they’re a team rather than an individual, however we felt the quality of the work and the impact it had meant they deserved recognition.

Highly commended – Satjinder Jabanda-Wilson, Virgin Media

A selection of people stand and pose with an award

What did she do?

Satjinder has led Virgin Media’s Disabled Customer Programme for over two years. In that time, she has overhauled the programme to transform the experience of Virgin Media customers.

She has put customers at the centre of inclusion measures. For example, she has delivered the ‘Tell us once’ principle – where customers only have to tell Virgin Media once about any access needs they have, and that will be translated across all their services without customers having to tell everyone they talk to from Virgin.

She’s also made sure that staff are well-trained to meet the needs of disabled customers. Her work has seen over 8,500 of Virgin Media’s 12,000 global staff take an online training course she developed with external consultants.

Why were they highly commended?

Satjinder was rewarded by our judges for her thorough and systematic approach. ‘Tell us once’ is a simple idea that makes the customer journey for disabled customers far simpler and less daunting. She has refocused Virgin Media’s priorities onto all customers, particularly those with disabilities.

Though technically not a diversity and inclusion practitioner, she has been tireless in championing disabled customers at Virgin Media and has seen through tangible improvements to diversity and inclusion.


Hector Minto, Microsoft – as an ‘accessibility evangelist’, Hector has worked directly with employee groups and external stakeholders to overhaul Microsoft’s approach to accessibility.

Sarah Beisly, Sainsburys – in a relatively short time as Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Sainsbury’s, Sarah has brought disabled colleagues and customers to the centre of Sainsbury’s approach to diversity and inclusion.

Inspired to enter the 2020 Disability-Smart Awards? Contact our Events team at events@businessdisabilityforum.org.uk for more information.