Heading towards a more accessible and welcoming city: A stroll through urban inclusion in Uzhhorod during the 20th Travelling Docudays UA

Heading towards a more accessible and welcoming city: A stroll through urban inclusion in Uzhhorod during the 20th Travelling Docudays UA

30 November 2023

On November 24, as part of the Travelling Docudays UA, Uzhhorod hosted an open tour titled City Accessible to People. The walk aimed to delve into the city’s accessibility and inclusivity, sparking discussions on how to enhance these aspects.

 

The attendees included local residents, students, schoolchildren, and individuals who relocated to Uzhhorod due to the full-scale invasion. Dzvinka Bilonoh, a representative of the NGO FORZA, guided the tour, starting from Poshtova Square, weaving through the city centre, and concluding near Uzhhorod Castle.

 

Throughout the city tour, Dzvinka Bilonoh, along with the participants and Maria Symkovych, the organiser of Travelling Docudays UA in Uzhhorod, discussed the extent to which Uzhhorod is adapted for individuals with disabilities. Does the city ensure equal access for all residents to public spaces, transportation, and both public and private buildings? If not, how can this be changed?

 

A tour as part of Travelling Docudays UA in Uzhhorod

 

To better grasp the implementation of human-centred, barrier-free, and open urban principles, participants in the tour had the opportunity to witness elements facilitating smooth movement across the city for everyone, taking into account the needs of those with limited mobility. An essential aspect of the city’s openness is its orientation, including established maps and schedules for public transport routes, coupled with urban design that guarantees the complete functionality of bicycle paths and parking.

 

As an illustration of poor urban planning, the tour pointed out steeply inclined ascents, often mislabelled as ramps, that fail to provide convenient access. Accessible zebra crossings, ideally aligned with roadways, are often lacking. Particularly challenging for individuals with limited mobility was the historic district with its narrow streets and high curbs.

 

A tour as part of Travelling Docudays UA in Uzhhorod

 

The event organiser, Maria Symkovych, highlighted the tour’s relevance to the broader theme of the Travelling Docudays UA – The Image of the Future. How can we modernise our cities and towns, ensuring they are comfortable, contemporary, and accessible? What urban policies need to be devised and put into action to shift our cities’ focus from cars to people of varying ages and mobility levels?

 

Russia’s war against Ukraine has led to an increased number of people with disabilities. Therefore, prioritising the comfort and accessibility of the city is crucial in the urban and national recovery strategies for Ukraine. To fortify the country’s current and future development, the government should adhere to the Lugano principles. Urban inclusivity needs to be integrated into recovery strategies that extend beyond infrastructure, encompassing environmental, social, and economic dimensions. 

 

The 20th Travelling Docudays UA is supported by the Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine, the Embassy of Switzerland in Ukraine, and the US Embassy in Ukraine. The opinions, conclusions, or recommendations do not necessarily reflect the views of the governments, charities, or companies of these countries. The content of this publication is the sole responsibility of its authors.

 

20 Travelling Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival
October — December 2022