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Volunteer Petra Lange
NACHRUF Dirk Janczewski
Herausgeber:

What is "barrier-free" access?

If a venue is labelled 'barrier-free' it should, ideally, allow unrestricted access for everyone - without any exception. This implies that people with reduced mobility as well as visually impaired, blind or deaf people ought to be equally able to enjoy their visit to a tourist sight, a hotel, a restaurant, or a concert venue together with all others.

Unfortunately, reality is still rather different. Venues which meet all the criteria of barrier-free access are literally thin on the ground within the Cultural Metropolis RUHR.2010. Most of the places presented here can at best be labelled 'low-barrier'. Some of them have no special facilities for the visually impaired, others don't have any for people with hearing impairments and others still have none for either type of visitor.

But especially the big group of mobility-impaired people, including wheelchair-users, elderly people with or without wheeled walkers (zimmers) as much as families with baby buggies, has been taken care of during the past few years. Whether it be the result of anti-discrimination legislation or of the target agreement of the German Hotel & Catering Association, or whether it be personal initiatives, or the successful work of pressure groups: a lot has been done in recent years, especially regarding level access in public buildings, city centres, stores, cinemas, hotels, restaurants etc.; even disabled toilets are increasingly becoming a service standard.

Our short-term aim:

We want to draw public attention to the different types of "low barrier" venues, tourist sights, restaurants, cafés, hotels etc. currently existing within the area of the Cultural Metropolis RUHR.2010 (in other words: the current state of play) in order to help, not only RUHR.2010 visitors, but also local residents to enjoy the many attractions of our region as easily as possible.

Our long-term aim:

  • To set off a domino effect by publicising this information, thus heightening public awareness. We are hoping that institutions which are already low-barrier will go one step further and become fully barrier-free, showing to the world that literally EVERYONE is welcome.
  • Businesses which haven't considered the issue yet will begin to understand its importance and to consider ways of re-building their entrance areas and/or toilet facilities accordingly.

"For 10 per cent of the population a barrier-free environment is an absolute must – for 30 to 40 per cent it is an urgent need – and for the whole of society it simply means added convenience and quality." (From the survey “Promoting barrier-free tourism for all”, a Ministry for Trade and Technology publication 2008.)

Let us all work together to bring down more and more barriers up and down the land.

The "Ruhr2010-barrierefrei"-editorial team