Disability-Smart Design Award 2019 (new)

A person stands at a podium at an award evening smiling at the came

Winner – Herbal Essences

What we were looking for

Quality design everyone could use and appreciate. It could be anything, from a physical product to a building, a document to a website or app. Products that significantly and elegantly make life easier for disabled people.

What did they do?

Sensory enhance bottles are included on a poster, stripes are for shampoo, dots for conditioner

Herbal Essences introduced tactile features so that blind and visually impaired customers can tell the difference between shampoo and conditioner bottles. Shampoo bottles now come with raised stripes, and conditioner bottles with raised circles.

People with visual impairments have often had to use makeshift identifiers for shampoo and conditioner – for example putting elastic bands around bottles. Following the suggestion of their inclusive design consultant, Sam Latif – who is blind herself – Herbal Essences conducted a thorough assessment of the best way to adapt their design to include blind and visually impaired customers.

See how Sam helped develop the tactile bottle designs here:

This was accompanied by an innovative project to inform consumers of this change – after all, it’s only useful if you know to look there.

Why did they win?

Their design solution is incredibly simple and equally elegant. It has the capacity to benefit not only people with visual impairments, but anyone who may find it difficult read bottle labels in the shower, such as children, older people and contact lens wearers.

The design is deeply inclusive; they considered how this innovation would affect people with other disabilities, for example for people with limited sensation in their hands. They researched this work thoroughly and promoted it innovatively.

It’s a brilliant piece of simple, inclusive design, which can have a huge impact.

Highly commended – The Disabled Sailors’ Association

A boat in pictured sailing on a calm sea with bright sky in the background

What did they do?

Created a range of wheelchair-accessible sailing boats including the RoRoCat, a 35-foot catamaran that wheelchair users can use and live on without any extra support. It’s designed in a way that allows sailors in wheelchairs to use all its features independently.

It’s the first of its kind, with the slogan “you are only a passenger with the RoRoCat if you choose to be”. Before this, sailors in wheelchairs could only sail with support from another person, or sail as a passenger.

Why were they highly commended?

This design shows that sailing can be fun, elegant and accessible for everyone. As a catamaran that a wheelchair can sail single-handedly, it represents a significant development in boat design. The RoRoCat is both elegant and practical, sitting in the sweet spot between beauty, innovation and inclusion.


Dubai Police – for their mobile app, designed for all citizens to use and built to be inclusive and accessible for disabled people.

Symphony Group – for their stylish and accessible kitchen design.

Gillette – for their TREO razor, the first ever razor designed specially for shaving someone else.

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