The International Day of People with disability is held on 3 December each year, ever since the UN decided in 1992 to mark the date to promote the rights and welfare of disabled individuals around the globe.
This year's theme is the "Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want", which sheds a light on the sustainable development goals and their potential to create a more inclusive world for persons with disabilities.
One of these goals is a future is the promotion of sustainable cities and communities. This includes providing access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all – including those with disabilities. Another goal is to provide everyone with decent work.
Many cities around the world – including in Europe – lack the necessary infrastructures to facilitate the daily life of people with physical disabilities, and count with too few disability-friendly public buildings.
Additionally, many lack effective integration policies to make sure people with all kinds of disability, whether physical or mental, have access to employment.
Since 2011, a European Union prize known as the Access City Award, gives recognition to the towns of more than 50,000 inhabitants that do well when it comes to offering a better quality of life for their disabled citizens. This year, the winner is the UK city of Chester.
Why Chester was chosen
Chester is a historic city in the north-west of England, and it's famous for its Roman and Saxon City Walls and its Rows. It has a beautiful ancient city centre. It won the award for making this centre fully accessible to all people with disabilities.
For instance, a combination of ramps, level access routes, lifts have been built to enable access to the Rows, and most of the three kilometres of the walls. The city has also invested in new handrails and tactile paving.
A very important way to help people with disabilities access the city is to improve the public system network. All the city's buses and even taxis have been made wheelchair accessible in Chester.
A more original approach is to provide individualised support to disabled and older people, thanks to "Ability Angels" who act as companions and help them with their shopping.