The Spanish city of San Cristóbal de La Laguna has won the 2024 Access City Award for its dedication to improving the quality of life of persons with disabilities.
The municipality has prioritised the accessibility of persons with disabilities across urban spaces, transportation systems, and social activities. For example, all vehicles and all stations of the city’s tram network are fully accessible, and the city centre has acoustic traffic lights and tactile paving to guide visually impaired people. Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli awarded the prize this morning at the yearly European Day of Persons with Disabilities conference. Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, presented the special mention for the city of Tübingen (Germany) for its accessible city development and for being aligned with the New European Bauhaus recognising its commitment to making transport infrastructure sustainable, aesthetically beautiful and inclusive in the development of its new central bus station.
In 2021, San Cristóbal de La Laguna launched the Orange Point, a mobile space with resources to help organize inclusive and accessible events. Orange Point provides, , sign language interpreters, anti-noise systems, and trained staff as well as easy-to-read materials. The city’s commitment to accessibility is also exemplified by various other initiatives, including a Disability Council and an Ombudsman for persons with disabilities. The Disability Council directly involves persons with disabilities in decision-making, while the Ombudsman provides independent advice to the City Council, coordinating and promoting the city’s accessibility initiatives.
The city of Łódź (Poland) came second for putting in place comprehensive guidelines to ensure accessibility standards for all municipal investments, and the city of Saint-Quentin (France) won the third place for improving accessibility of the public transport network. South Dublin County (Ireland) was also awarded a special mention for landscape and playground areas, recognising the commitment to accessible play areas.
Accessible spaces, both physical and digital, are a crucial first step towards achieving equality. Around 87 million people in the EU have a disability. Only if persons with disabilities can access transport, shops, parks, or websites, will they be empowered to make choices and take control of their lives. Since 2010, the Access City Award celebrates cities that make accessibility their priority. The Award is also part of the Strategy for the rights of persons with disabilities 2021-2030 to build a Europe without barriers. The Access City Award was presented at the yearly European Day of Persons with Disabilities conference, organised jointly with the European Disability Forum. Among the 32 cities that applied for the award this year, 21 candidates were pre-selected by national experts. The five finalists were then shortlisted by an EU jury.
More information: European Commission