SKIPTON Building Society has beaten 150 entries nationwide to take home Disability Forum’s Disability Smart Customer Service Award 2021 in recognition of its pioneering work with communications Access UK.

The judging panel chose Skipton for the ambitious training programme it has rolled out for colleagues.

The Society became the first financial services provider to pioneer the Communications Access UK initiative early. The initiative provides a set of standards for organisations to achieve, including specialist training for customer-facing colleagues, that enables organisations to communicate inclusively with people who currently have difficulties accessing their services.

To date, the UK’s fourth largest building society has rolled out the symbol and accompanying training to over 1,400 colleagues across Skipton’s 88 branches and call centre, with the training also available to all colleagues even if they are not customer-facing.

In their feedback, the judging panel said: “Skipton Building Society has become the early adopters and leaders in the field of accessible communication. They have really taken up the baton, rolling out Communication Access UK (CAUK) training to all their customer facing colleagues.

“They are also offering the training to their non-customer facing colleagues, and Skipton’s already seeing the benefits within their organisation, and we look forward to seeing where they take it next.”

Ian Cornelius, Skipton’s Director of Commercial and Strategy, said: “At Skipton, we’ve been building better futures since 1853 – but in order to do that we have to ensure that we are accessible to everyone, including the 14 million people in the UK who face challenges everyday accessing the services they need. Receiving this award recognises the tremendous efforts made by our team towards our aim to build better futures for all.

“As noted by the judging panel, our colleagues have truly taken up the baton and embraced the initiative, ensuring that no matter how customers contact us, they can be sure to receive a truly inclusive service.”

The early adoption of the Communications Access UK initiative is just one of many steps Skipton is taking to champion accessibility for its customers. In November, Skipton also became the first Building Society to launch an on-demand Video Relay Service for the British Sign Language (BSL) community in all of Skipton’s 88 branches nationwide.

Skipton is also the first building society to provide information to AccessAble. AccessAble is a website that tells customers everything they need to know about accessibility at a Skipton branch, from accessible parking to the width of the entrance door.