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Access City Award winner 2011: Ávila, Spain RSS

Ávila in Spainavi is a medieval city of 60 000 inhabitants which drew up a "Special Action Plan for Accessibility in Ávila" in 2002 following which the City Council has transformed Ávila - including the medieval walls - to be accessible for persons with disabilities.

Accessibility has become a core issue running through all municipal policies and is applied to all spheres of society including town planning, building, communication and transport.

Local society has been involved in the design of a city for all and the mainstreaming of persons with disabilities through access to employment, culture and leisure has been encouraged.

One of the City Council's overriding motivations has been to make Ávila widely known and to promote it as an example of a city for all and an accessible tourist destination.

The City's 'Department of Accessible and Social Tourism'avi, which was set up in 2007, is working to turn Ávila into an accessible place for visitors.

Its actions help promote the provision of restaurant menus in Braille, the loan of wheelchairs, the organisation of guided visits for persons with disabilities, accessible points for tourist information etc.

At a practical level, improvements in accessibility have been made in all the municipal installations, with the removal of barriers and installation of technical aids, as well in other privately owned historical buildings.

In the area of transportation, the city's railway station has been adapted to the needs of persons with disabilities and work is underway on a new bus station which will meet the requirements of universal access. An Accessible Taxi service is being extended in the City.

Ávila presides over and holds the position of secretary of the Accessibility Commission of the World Heritage Cities Group in Spain, which was created on 25 February 2008 in Ávila, at the behest of the city's mayor.