Disability-Smart Communications & Marketing Campaign Award – 2019 (new)

A selection of people pose for an award

Winner – Microsoft

What we were looking for

An innovative, engaging and inclusive campaign. We wanted to see disabled people visibly represented in a mainstream campaign.

What did they do?

Microsoft ran a campaign to raise awareness of the accessibility features in their devices and programmes. They ran this campaign in conjunction with John Lewis and The Guardian newspaper, as John Lewis is a trusted disability-smart employer, and The Guardian is a well-trusted news outlet.

The campaign consisted of nine promotional articles and four double-page spreads in The Guardian, exploring different ways in which disabled people can benefit from accessible tech. These had headlines such as ‘From Segways to Ceefax: how inclusive design helps everyone’ and ‘“It’s allowed me to create again”: how technology helped me paint again’. The campaign highlighted how features of Microsoft devices and software can help a range of different disabilities.

They also made a short promotional documentary about computer programming with visually impaired children:

Coding the future: how tech is empowering children

Why did they win?

Microsoft’s campaign was a masterpiece of inclusive communications and marketing. They worked productively with two large external organisations to maximise both the reach and the credibility of their campaign. The campaign was diverse, including testimonials from people with a range of disabilities. It was a complex campaign with many moving parts, and it was conducted thoroughly and successfully.

We were very impressed by the measurement of the campaign – they can confidently quantify its impact. Microsoft’s team set themselves tough goals, and they have more than met them with this campaign. Most impressively, the campaign has promise to lead to longer-term partnership between these organisations to continue raising awareness and uptake of accessible technologies.

Highly commended – Busy Life Ltd

An award winner smiles for the camera whilst holding their award

What did they do?

Created Diversity Designs™ – a range of running products to celebrate diversity in running and parasport. Two collections in the range are named “Run, girl, run!” and “Run, boy, run!”.

They represent amputee runners, vision-impaired runners, blade runners and wheelchair users. As well as this the images also celebrate other diversities – such as age, race, religion and body shape.

A phone case and bottle featuring the busy life LTD logo

Begun mainly as clothing, the range now encompasses notepads, mouse mats, tote bags and phone cases. You don’t have to be running – or even a runner – to wear and use these products. This was a deliberate decision; it’s running gear designed to be used and worn even when you’re not running. This way disability-positive imagery will reach more people and start conversations.

Why were they highly commended?

For celebrating disabled people in a way that also recognises everyone’s diversity. Diversity Designs™ embraces not only our different abilities, but also our different ages, shapes, races and religions.

We were also impressed by the decision to encourage people to wear and use Diversity Designs™ when not running. This was a key decision that showed Busy Life’s dedication to changing perceptions of disability in positive and innovative ways.

The campaign made significant impressions, especially for an organisation as relatively small as Busy Life. On social media they received responses from high profile runners and sports and parasports organisations. They were covered in several influential magazines and blogs.


Valuable 500 - for their global campaign to raise the profile of disability inclusion among business leaders.

Highways England – for their Motorways Campaign to inform and reassure disabled drivers about how to adapt to driving on new-style motorways.

Skipton Building Society – for their Accessibility on the High Street campaign with AccessAble and Paralympian Hannah Cockroft.

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