Luxembourg City has won the 2022 Access City Award. The European Commission announced the capital of Luxembourg as the winner on 3 December 2021, recognising it for its wide range of innovative solutions and improvements to enhance accessibility for persons with disabilities.
The Access City Award was launched in 2010 to raise awareness of disability and to promote accessibility initiatives in European cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants. The award is given to the city that has demonstrably improved accessibility in fundamental aspects of city living, and which also has concrete plans for further improvements.
According to the expert jury, Luxembourg City has made accessibility a priority. It follows a ‘Design for All' approach to make access easier for everyone, including for those with disabilities. It has launched several initiatives to make life easier for people with special needs, ensuring access to transport infrastructure, public spaces and services. Low-floor buses equipped with ramps are present across the city, as well as visual and audio announcements on buses and at bus stops. To ensure accessibility in public spaces, pavements are increasingly being adapted, traffic lights have been equipped with sound signals, parking spots are reserved for persons with reduced mobility and toilets located for persons with special needs.
The jury comprised of accessibility experts also noted the city’s information and communication actions. The city regularly consults its residents with disabilities to ensure that its actions have the desired effect. Moreover, Luxembourg City makes information about political decisions accessible for everyone by making key council meetings available in sign language, in addition to spoken language and accessible transcription.
The award was presented by the European Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, in a special ceremony during the yearly European Day of Persons with Disabilities conference. Dalli said: “Imagine that you want to take a bus, but you cannot board it. Or that your child is unable to play with other children because the playground is not accessible. Accessibility makes a real difference in daily life. It is about autonomy and equality. This is why with the Access City Award we recognise the efforts to make cities more accessible and inclusive. I congratulate this year's winner, Luxembourg City, for its commitment to equal opportunities for persons with disabilities.”
Patrick Goldschmidt, Alderman for the integration of people with special needs in Luxembourg City responded: "For many years, Luxembourg City has been working towards creating a city that is open to everyone. Building an inclusive city takes time, commitment and, above all, teamwork and the actual involvement of people who have a thorough understanding of the different needs people may have. The City is particularly honoured that its efforts have been recognised internationally. Rest assured that we are not going to stop our efforts here. We will continue the work and exchange with other cities."
For the 2022 Access City Award, the Commission received 40 applications. The Finnish capital Helsinki and the Spanish city of Barcelona were second and third, according to the jury. Two cities - Leuven in Belgium and Palma in Spain - also received a special mention. Leuven was recognised for mainstreaming accessibility, including in the digital area, while Palma won a special mention for improving access to the physical environment, including beaches and parks.
To mark the European Year of Rail, the Commission also gave a special mention to Porto (Portugal) for improving the accessibility of its train stations. When presenting the award, Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean said: “As one of the greenest and safest modes of transport, we want to see more people using rail. Everyone should be able to take the train, and do so with ease. Porto has made impressive improvements to its rail system, including its metro system, to make it accessible for persons with disabilities. For example, it has increasingly accessible metro vehicles and stations as well as audible warnings and adapted equipment throughout. I hope many other cities will follow this example.”
Photo Credit: © European Commission
Original article published by the European Commission on 3 December 2021.