Among the initiatives planned in the framework of  the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020, the Access City award is the recognition given by the European Union in partnership with the EDF (European Disability Forum) to cities that have implemented best practices in terms of accessibility for people with physical and sensory disabilities, and with reduced mobility.

On 8th December 2015, the city of Milan, THE First Italian city to win such prize, has been awarded because of the energy spent in order to facilitate participation in EXPO Milano 2015, for the web site and for the objectives planned for the future. This was the motivation of the award: “not only for the important steps made in the past to improve accessibility but also for its ambitious plans for the future.”

The European Union has positively assessed all the measures implemented by the various sectors of the Administration, from public works to mobility, culture and trade, tourism, personal services, not only for the organization and holding of Expo 2015, but for the general welfare of the citizens, especially the elderly or disabled, that has started some time ago.

Milan City Council adopted in 2011 the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, pledging to develop a comprehensive strategy to improve the level of accessibility; in 2014 it has approved the guidelines for the local plan for the elimination of architectural barriers (Peba) to promote the accessibility of buildings and public places as well as transport, social inclusion and quality of life, and in the same year approved the text of the new Building Regulations, which includes also Universal Design and accessibility.

In 2014-2015, the Administration has established a round table for  Permanent Disability and a  Task Force for accessibility at Expo 2015 in order to design, develop and consolidate the policies and initiatives of the city aimed at achieving  a greater accessibility. The  focus of the Administration has revolved around many areas, connected with each other: transportation and infrastructure, city planning, buildings and public spaces and services, regional marketing, tourism, culture, sports facilities, green and city parks.

The strategy of the Administration has been awarded since it was able to take actions with a global vision, supported by the active participation of several Associations representing   people with disabilities, as well as professionals in the field of accessibility. The fields of application concerned architecture and public spaces, transport and related infrastructure, information and communication tools, new technologies, facilities and public services.

The award does not make the town of Milan an accessible metropolis: there are still many critical issues to deal with.
The prize won is a stimulus for the Administration and the associations involved to continue with the current approach started together for Expo 2015:it was an event that provided an opportunity for collaboration, development and acceleration, not a point of arrival.

Isabella Tiziana Steffan,
architect ergonomist,
Member of Task Force for the accessibility at Expo 2015

Galerie Emmanuel deux à Milan

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