CAE’s 2020 year in review

Published: 14 Dec 2020

Despite the challenges of 2020, we’re pleased to have trained over 200 delegates in a variety of inclusive design courses, worked with a range of global organisations and launched a new programme to train the next generation of access talent.

At the start of the path

A major new initiative for 2020 was the launch of CAE Pathways – a new 12-month programme – providing young disabled Londoners with the confidence, skills and support to kickstart a career in inclusive design and access.

This project is funded by City Bridge Trust and will see us train up to 40 young disabled people over three years. They’ll learn about inclusive design and get on the job shadowing and networking opportunities.

The programme kicked off in September 2020 and we ran our first virtual training module in October 2020 for 14 young participants. You can read more about the first year of CAE Pathways in our latest update and we look forward to sharing further updates with you as the trainees progress through the programme.

Virtual becomes the new normal

Like most organisations we delivered services, predominantly, in person, right up to March; then Covid-19 happened and we had to rethink our approach.

We trialled our first virtual training session an Introduction to Access and Inclusive Design in May, and since then we’ve continued to deliver our public and bespoke training on a virtual platform.

This month, we’re delivering virtual training in Wales on the Lifetime Homes standards, and although we miss the interaction of face-to-face training, we’re pleased that the option of online training enables us to reach a much wider audience across the UK, and internationally.

Support to London voluntary sector

Our Access and Sustainability Advisory Service (ASAS) has been able to run its free workshops and training for London-based third sector organisations online, giving advice on how they can make their buildings and services more inclusive for everyone.

ASAS has advised and trained a wide range of organisations this year, from theatres and places of worship to community centres all aiming to make their buildings more accessible for disabled people.

Many of these organisations have been awarded grants from the City Bridge Trust to help with the cost of an access audit or access improvements to their buildings.

Since April, the ASAS Managing Access and Inclusion training sessions have been enhanced to support organisations to deliver post Covid-19 services, and have provided guidance on grant applications to improve access.

Sustained consultancy offer

Our consultancy services saw us working with over 50 organisations this year, supporting their equality and diversity strategy by ensuring all buildings are accessible. We’re excited to be working with a museum in Buckinghamshire, to provide access advice for their refurbishment projects; Kingsley Napley LLP, to ensure accessibility for their impressive new building in London; and giving ongoing access advice to a well-known horticultural society including consultancy for their new Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning due to open next year.

Our access auditors have worked on a very diverse range of buildings this year, despite the pandemic, including shops, theatres, churches, offices, and even a castle in Guernsey.

We value the opportunity to embed inclusive practices with our clients for long term impact, so we were really pleased to work with GlaxoSmithKline(GSK) and a global professional services company to develop their own inclusive design best practice guides.

It’s great to work with global organisations like these and play our part in improving accessibility worldwide.

A big year for housing

To date, the CAE team has undertaken design appraisals of accessible and adaptable layouts of over 3200 homes, and we continue to support local authorities and architects to create more inclusive housing through our wheelchair accessible housing training.

We also welcomed the Government consultation on accessible housing standards, which we hope will lead to positive policy change to create much more housing that is accessible.

Anniversaries, golden, silver and more

This was also a year of anniversaries. We joined Habinteg as they marked 50 years of providing accessible homes, which coincided with CAE’s anniversary of over 50 years.

We also celebrated the 25th year of the Disability Discrimination Act and 10th anniversary of the Equality Act. Both acts have had a significant impact on our work at CAE.

A network of influence

CAE continues to collaborate and work with influential partners. In 2020 we became part of the London Regional Stakeholder Network for the Government’s Office for Disability Issues.

We are also part of the Key Industry Stakeholders group for the Technical Policy Division of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), and as a member of the Changing Places Consortium, where we are working to support the implementation of Changing Places guidance in building regulations in 2021.

Sharing our expertise is really important to us so it’s great that a member of our team has, once again, served on the judging panel for the Selwyn Goldsmith Awards for Inclusive Design. Stay tuned for the winners announcement until next year.

Looking forward

Like all organisations we’re looking forward to 2021 being (we hope) a less ‘unusual’ year.

Even as we continue to adapt our services, we’ll be celebrating 25 years of running access auditing training and 15 years of our Access and Sustainability Advisory Service.

We’re also looking forward to seeing our 1st year CAE Pathways trainees graduate next summer, and preparing to take on a second intake of young disabled people to support them into careers in inclusive design.

If you have an access and inclusion goal in your plan for 2021, why not get in touch? We’d love to help you achieve it!