10 cities that are championing accessibility for venues and events

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A joint report from BestCities Global Alliance, GainingEdge and Rehabilitation International has showcased destinations that are meeting the needs of delegates with disabilities.

The cities highlighted in the Universal Accessibility in Meetings report have innovated and adapted in order to meet the needs of people with disabilities, in both tourism and meetings and events.

Graphic showing people walking past one another blurred with person in a wheelchair

Here are the cities picked out by the report as excellent examples of accessible destinations.


Berlin’s approach to universal accessibility is fully embedded in the city’s policies and supported by its decision makers. Its “accessBerlin” app is an invaluable travel aid for all visitors with special needs. Berlin’s accessible hotels have been certified under the Reisen für Alle (“Tourism for All”) nationwide certification scheme.


In the planning stages, the Ágora Bogotá Convention Center made universal accessibility a key focus. Staff at Ágora are trained and certified in attending to people with disabilities. The centre hosted One Young World Summit 2017 where the global business campaign on disability inclusion, called #valuable, was launched.

Cape Town

Universal access for people with disabilities is a compulsory requirement for the grading of all types of tourism accommodation and meetings, exhibitions, and special events venues.


A Danish initiative called God Adgang (Good Access) is an Accessibility Label scheme, which includes seven labels aiming at different groups of disabilities, each with different requirements for accessibility.


Dubai’s ‘My Community – A City for Everyone’ project means that new public spaces have had to fulfil an emirate-wide, disabled-friendly code while many older buildings are being retrofitted ahead of Expo 2020 Dubai. This is in line with the Dubai Disability Strategy 2020 using smart technologies and facilities aimed at integrating those with disabilities into the society.


As ‘Accessibility for All’ is a key priority within Edinburgh’s community, there is a range of information and tools available for conference organisers and delegates visiting the city. Local initiatives assist hotels and venues welcoming guests with disabilities. Among others, the Edinburgh Airport and the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) have led the way with their inclusive approach and are designated autism-friendly.


Madrid has taken great strides to adapt and improve its tourism infrastructure for universal access. The city has worked with accessibility expert PREDIF (Spanish Representative Platform for the Physically Disabled), as well as different tourism associations and organisations.


As part of Melbourne’s ‘Good Access is Good Business’ initiative, a study by Monash University revealed that businesses enjoy a 20-25% increase turnover for universally accessible retail environments compared to non-accessible environments. The city’s ‘Open Innovation Competition’ yielded creative solutions that use smart technologies to create a universally accessible city.


Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA) introduced a Universal Design Guide in 2007 to offer guidelines in the design of products and environment. The Accessibility Fund encourages building owners to include accessibility features for the visually and hearing impaired, such as braille signage and hearing loops.


Efforts to make Japan increasingly barrier-free have gained momentum ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. Along with promoting measures to make railway stations, roads and buildings barrier-free, the Tokyo 2020 Accessibility Guidelines will emphasise the importance of city planning that is friendly to everyone.


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