By Mike Ritchie

She once spent two weeks in Glasgow in a different hotel every night, then two years in Rio de Janeiro all in the line of duty.

This was to help disabled people plan their stays and negotiate their way safely and effectively around these two hugely contrasting cities during major sporting events and beyond.

Now Glasgow-based Emily Rose Yates’ expertise in this field is one of the reasons she has won a place – for the first time – on The Shaw Trust Power 100, the annual publication listing the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK.

The accessibility consultant, a wheelchair user for the past 20 years, is clearly regarded as a role model in the way she helps identify issues disabled people can face in their day-to-day lives, while advising on solutions to help combat the problems.

With more than 350 nominations received, it takes a very special person to make it into the top 100.

“I’m incredibly grateful to be included in the Power 100 and so lucky to work with organisations that understand the importance of access and inclusion to promote the value of lived experience,” said Emily, 29, who was born with cerebral palsy and needed a wheelchair from the age of nine.

Originally from North Yorkshire, she feels progress is being made when it comes to examining and overcoming access issues.

Emily said: “Slowly but surely, businesses in every sector are recognising that ensuring physical and social access for deaf and disabled people are in place.

“These measures can include barrier-free entrances, subtitled videos or disability awareness training for staff.

“This is not merely a kind and ethical thing to do. It also promotes a positive and profitable business model.”

Her posting in Rio de Janiero came after Emily completed a volunteering stint at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which she said had “lifted the cloud of limitation.”

The British Consulate to the Brazilian city invited her to speak on the importance of access and inclusion ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games there.

“While I was in Rio for that talk, they offered me a role as accessibility consultant for MetroRio, the underground transport system for the city.

“Over the two years, I advised on modernisations of existing stations, conducted risk assessments, trained staff and worked with architects to create plans for an accessible transport line to the Olympic Park.

“It was a great opportunity and a hugely interesting time.”

It resulted in Emily authoring the Lonely Planet Guide to Accessible Rio de Janeiro ahead of the Rio Games.

Prior to Glasgow’s 2014 Commonwealth Games, Emily undertook a similar mission investigating how disabled people could get around the city, what accommodation was like for them, as well as places to eat.

“I stayed in a different hotel every night for two weeks, ate in different places every day and used the hop-on, hop-off bus services to see if they would be OK,” she said.

“I wrote a blog giving my thoughts and advice.”

She also admits that the visit left her with a great love for Glasgow, so much so she moved back here four years ago.

“I actually bought the last flat on the market from the Athletes’ Village in Dalmarnock, the show flat, and I am really happy living there with my fiancé.”

Most recently Emily worked with Heathrow Airport to update their Access and Inclusion Standards for passengers and staff.

Emily, who has fronted several documentaries for BBC Three, is also a disability awareness trainer for Enhance the UK.

This is a charity run by disabled people who are passionate about the society we live in and want to change the way disability is viewed for the better.

“We work with businesses all over the UK and abroad, supporting them in achieving their inclusion goals,” said Emily.

She manages their Undressing Disability campaign, championing the right for disabled people to have access to sexual expression.

The charity website describes her as a resident “love guru” who is available to offer free advice on all things about sex, love and disability via an online Love Lounge section.

“It is a safe place for people to talk and ask questions about sex and relationships,” said Emily. “Just like everyone else, disabled people can have issues about sex and sexuality so my colleagues and I are there to help as best we can.”

BBC Disability Correspondent Nikki Fox was announced as the 2020’s most influential disabled person.

Known to millions for her work on Watchdog, How to Look Good Naked, and Supermarket Secrets, she was the unanimous choice of the independent judging panel for her outstanding work keeping issues on the news agenda throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chris Luck CB MBE, Chief Executive of Shaw Trust, said:

“This year has been a challenging one and at Shaw Trust we have witnessed the impact Covid-19 is having on people in the disabled community.

“We are seeing an increase in the disability employment gap, so it is therefore more important than ever for us to recognise, celebrate and promote the exceptional role models that make up our Disability Power 100 List.”