EUROCITIES member Milan is the winner of this year’s Access City Award, and
Toulouse, also a member, received both the third prize and a special mention as
a ‘smart city’.
The awards ceremony took place this morning as part of the European Day of Persons with Disabilities 2015 conference, which started yesterday in Brussels.
Milan was recognised for its consistent efforts in accessibility policy and in promoting Universal Design standards, which guide the design of products and spaces to allow them to be used by the widest range of people possible. Milan has also been rewarded for its commitment to promoting the employment of people with disabilities and supporting independent living. In his acceptance speech, Pierfrancesco Majorino, deputy mayor of Milan, said: “We cannot say that Milan is completely without barriers, but we are a community where institutions and citizens are working together on this. This is our commitment and a core value”.
Speaking at the ceremony, Marianne Thyssen, European commissioner for employment, social affairs, skills and labour mobility, said: "I warmly congratulate all the cities who participated in the award this year. You are contributing to making our Europe more accessible for all. You serve as an inspiration to cities across the continent as you lead us on our way to a barrier-free Europe."
Toulouse was recognised for going above and beyond what is required by French national legislation. The city’s metro, trams and buses are 100% accessible. Operas in Toulouse are performed with audio-description and programmes are available in large print or braille. The city was also given the special mention of ‘smart city’ for its accessible websites with information about accessibility, which allows citizens to find for example information about which pedestrian crossings have audio guidance for the visually impaired, as well as the location of disabled parking spaces.
Since 2010, this EU level award has recognised cities for their efforts to remove barriers in key aspects of everyday life. It highlights the most successful initiatives that allow people with disabilities to participate fully in society and to enjoy their fundamental rights on an equal footing with others. Wiesbaden (Germany), Vaasa (Finland) and Kapsovár (Hungary) were also awarded this year for their efforts to improve accessibility for people with disabilities and the elderly.
For videos explaining the projects of the winning cities, click here