Skellefteå in the north of Sweden has been awarded the 2023 Access City Award by the European Commission on account of its long-term commitment and innovative mindset.

Out of the 42 cities that competed for the award, Skellefteå was selected with the motivation of “long-term commitment and innovative strategy to improve accessibility for people with disabilities”. The Spanish city of Cordoba came second, followed by the Slovenian capital Ljubljana.

The winner gets 150,000 euros in prize – money that can go towards implementing future ideas on accessibility.

Accessible public spaces

According to the Commission, accessibility is an integral part of Skellefteå’s planning, ensuring that public spaces such as playgrounds and streets are provided with tactile information signs and underfloor heating to ensure that snow and ice are not an obstacle.

Examples of what Skellefteå has done to ensure accessibility in the city:

  • The city’s central park and nearby river area have tactile trails and maps, seating and an outdoor elevator;
  • An SMS service for the blind and visually impaired provides information about road construction and potential obstacles across the city;
  • Public buses are also fully accessible thanks to low floors, ramps, text screens and audio announcements;
  • Skellefteå also offers training for young people with intellectual disabilities to explore technology and working methods to help them live independent adult lives.

– For us in Skellefteå, this award will keep us motivated to continue on our chosen path, and to try to integrate the accessibility perspective in all ongoing activities and projects in the municipality. Starting from universal design and building a Skellefteå for everyone does not only benefit people with various types of disabilities – it benefits all citizens, said Elin Brännström, Participation Coordinator at Skellefteå municipality.

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