Berlin receives the European Commission's Access City Award

11/12/2012 Berlin receives the European Commission's Access City Award

European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding handed on December 3rd the Access City Award 2013 to Berlin in recognition of its comprehensive and strategic approach to creating an accessible city for all. The award is organised by the Commission together with the European Disability Forum, and was presented on the occasion of the annual European Day of People with Disabilities conference in Brussels.

The prize aims to encourage cities to share their experience and to improve accessibility for the benefit of all. European cities today have a steadily ageing population, as well as 80 million people with a mild to severe disability. These Europeans have difficulty getting around in the urban environment and making full use of the services and facilities which others take for granted.accessibility has important social and economic benefits.

The jury selected Berlin (Germany) for its strategic and inclusive disability policy, which has invested heavily in turning the formerly divided city into an accessible, barrier-free environment. The jury highlighted Berlin’s transport system and investment in accessibility for disabled people in reconstruction projects. Berlin's comprehensive approach to accessibility is fully embedded in the city’s policies and broadly supported by its decision-makers.

The other finalists were:

  • Nantes (France): rewarded for its complete approach to designing a city accessible for all and variety of activities to raise awareness of accessibility in everyday life. Nantes has invested in training for designers and architects and maintains a dialogue with citizens to allow people with disabilities to meet and set up common projects.
  • Stockholm (Sweden): chosen for its long-term, inclusive approach following Design for All. The “Vision Stockholm in 2030” aims to turn the city, where 30% of the central area consists of water, into a world class city accessible to all. Good examples include accessible pedestrian crossings, public toilets and playgrounds to ensure that they are accessible to children and parents with disabilities.

The European Jury also decided to attribute special mentions in each of the four key areas of accessibility. These went to:

  • Pamplona (Spain) for the built environment and public spaces
  • Gdynia (Poland) for transport and related infrastructures
  • Bilbao (Spain) for information and communication, including new technologies
  • Tallaght (Ireland) for public facilities and services

This is the third annual edition of the Access City award. The first went to Avila, in Spain, and the second to Salzburg, in Austria.