The city of Breda, in the southern Netherlands, has won the 2019 Access City Award for its accessibility to citizens with disabilities.
The 2019 Access City Award, which was presented at the European Day of Persons with Disabilities conference in Brussels yesterday, honoured Breda for its use of digital technology to ensure universal accessibility. Of the 52 candidates for the award, second place went to Évreux in France – which garnered praise for its attention to invisible disabilities – and Gydnia in Poland, which has focused its efforts on persons with intellectual disabilities. Special mentions were given to Kaposvár in Hungary, for its continued improvement in accessibility; and Vigo in Spain, for innovations in architecture.
Marianne Thyssen, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said of the 2019 Access City Award: “Too often, people with disabilities feel isolated because they cannot access public spaces or transport. In Breda, public places such as parks and stores are accessible to everyone. Digital technologies ensure that all citizens can get around using public transport; and Breda’s investments pay off. Tourism is thriving thanks to the city’s commitment to inclusion. In the near future, the European Accessibility Act will complement Breda’s efforts by setting European accessibility standards for key products and services – our combined efforts at local and European level are a game changer for the more than 80 million Europeans with disabilities.”
The 2019 Access City award forms part of the EU Disability Strategy 2010-2020; and recognises cities which have demonstrated clear and sustainable developments to improve urban accessibility. Candidates must have more than 50,000 inhabitants and show improvements in the following fields:
- Built environment and public spaces;
- Transport and infrastructure;
- Information and communication technology and new technologies; and
- Public facilities and services.
Previous winners of the Access City Award, which began in 2011, include Lyon in France (2018), Chester in the UK (2017) and Milan in Italy (2016).