Steven Mifsud Interview: Improving Inclusivity is our passion

This week, Direct Access founder and director Steven Mifsud MBE sat down with Crewe Nub News for a quick interview about our team’s passion for inclusivity.

Detailing our approach to accessibility, and our international growth as a business, we are thrilled to share Steven’s interview below.

Direct Access founder Steven Mifsud MBE smiles for a photo outside the Horniman Museum and Gardens

Direct Access, the accessibility company and consultancy, based in Nantwich has been growing each year and has its sights set on growing even further.

But it’s still very much something which Steven Mifsud MBE, the director, cares passionately about. The company specializes in accessibility auditing, alongside producing accessibility products that enhance the living environments of disabled people, and being born deaf, Steven knows the difficulties that a lack of accessibility can bring. It is his lived experience alongside his colleagues that has made Direct Access a special company and played a key role in its success.

Cheshire Business Nub sat down with Steven to chat about how it all began and a little about its story so far.

Four people smile and take a selfie together

What inspired you to set up Direct Access?

I was born deaf, so I’ve been facing barriers all my life and from a very early age I realized that the social environment around me was a disability, not my actual impairment. And I wanted to have a direct hand in changing things. I was getting frustrated at large firms, companies and architects who said they knew all about accessibility but, they didn’t, they only knew one part of it – the physical environment and there is so much more than just that.

You have a social environment, which is about attitudes and awareness, the physical environment, the digital environment which is ensuring that the internet is as accessible as possible for people and the sensory environment, which is about the smell, touch and feel of an environment.

And it is only when you look at those four key areas, do you get change, so I set up Direct Access with about £100 in my pocket. I never planned for it to get to what it is today, it just happened. And I think passion feeds it.

Working with my colleagues, 80% of us have some form of disability so we are all on the same page and striving for the same thing and it brings a perspective that few others can give. I asked a colleague if they knew what inclusion was and they said that they didn’t, but they knew what exclusion was, so it is those little moments that keep me going.

What’s next for Direct Access?

Our strategy is to keep going. This sounds simple but really what it means is that we want to continue doing what we are doing at a scale that suits us. We have opened an office in the U.S., and we’ve won 5 new contracts there recently, and that keeps growing quickly.

We’re also present in Dubai and completed the Expo 2020 which I was the Director of Accessibility and had 25 million visitors over 6 months during a pandemic. But that experience taught me and the company so many different things about navigating through different regulations that it has helped us when working in different countries. So, we are keen to keep pushing and continue helping in new areas.

We’ve also taken a new lease for a unit near us and we will be manufacturing different accessibility products, which is another part of the business which is growing.

Key Photo Expo

How was the pandemic for Direct Access?

It was a strange experience for us for sure. I like to keep busy, it’s how I am naturally and I know my colleagues are the same. So we looked around and saw where the struggles were locally and one of the struggles was, that smaller companies or organisations couldn’t get hold of PPE because they primarily had to buy in huge quantities that weren’t going to work for them, or they couldn’t get them through the government quick enough.

So, what we did was used our resources and imported some PPE in large quantities and then sold them at a cost to the companies and organisations that need it locally. Suddenly, we had a full team that was working on getting PPE to where it was needed. But the pandemic shifted the accessibility landscape also.

All the accessibility guidance is written pre-pandemic, and it showed up its shortcomings, so this is where first-hand experience is really useful.

Did your success surprise you?

Back in the day, I was a consultant and a sub-contractor for some of the bigger firms. And I woke up and I was 40 and I thought I needed to accelerate things, push the company forward and push myself.

I always thought Direct Access would grow, but when I concentrated on it a little more, the speed of it took me by surprise and I would never have envisioned that it would have taken off in the U.S. and certainly not in the Middle East. We’ve had a lot of support from the Department for International Trade who have really helped develop our international footprints.

Have things been more challenging recently, given the business landscape?

Yeah, it hasn’t been ideal, but we’ve kept going. It is a challenging environment. But I’ve treated these times the same way I’ve treated my disability. I can either sit at home and cry about it or do, and I chose to do. I take calculated risks typically if they make sense and I’ll continue with that mindset I think, and besides, what’s the alternative to not keeping going?


Direct Access Consultancy Limited
Suite GB
Pepper House
Market Street
5 South Charlotte Street

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