The EU Access City Award, announced today, gave a special mention to Eurocities’ member cities Poznan, Poland, and Florence, Italy.
The winner of the Award is Jönköping in Sweden, with Bremerhaven in Germany and Gdynia in Poland coming second and third. Komotini in Greece also received a special mention.
Poznan won the Special Award for Accessibility of public services in times of pandemic. The city authorities in Poznan have delivered daily information about the pandemic via sign language; coordinated volunteers to bring food, hygiene items and medicines to people with disabilities; maintained a helpline for older people to fight loneliness; and operated a digital advice service to help older people better use technology and online services.
Jacek Jaśkowiak, Mayor of Poznan, said: “From the very beginning of the pandemic we knew that we had to support residents of our city. Particular attention was paid to seniors and people with disabilities. We wanted them to be able to use public services meeting their everyday needs with all safety precautions preserved.”
A special mention was also made for Florence thanks to its commitment to the ‘built environment’. In Florence, all buses and trams are accessible, making the historical centre accessible; all taxis can now transport wheelchairs; the city boasts the highest number of parking spaces in Italy for people with disabilities; access has been increased to 29 public facilities; cultural visits have sign language and multi-sensory interpretations; a working group is actively finding ways to remove architectural barriers, and a mobile application gives real-time information to wheelchair users about accessibility along different paths.
Cecilia del Re, Deputy Mayor of Florence, commented: “During the years we kept on working to facilitate access to our museums, as well as our schools, offices, public transportation, sports facilities and to include all kinds of minorities in the decision-making process, in order to be able to represent everybody’s needs.”
The Access City Award is organised by the European Commission together with the European Disability Forum, to recognise and celebrate a city’s willingness, ability and efforts to become more accessible.
Main picture credit: Josh Appel