On Saturday Bologna was the site of a special event aimed at raising awareness for wheelchair accessibility. At 3:30 pm the Piazza XX Settembre began filling with people ready to take part in the annual La Skarrozzata, a wheelchair „walk“ through the the historic city center. A group of more than 150 people departed from the plaza near the main train station. Many came in wheelchairs; others borrowed a wheelchair for the duration of the „walk“ so that they themselves might experience the barriers in Bologna.
The MyAccessible.EU partner SOZIALHELDEN e.V. was in Bologna to introduce the online map for wheelchair accessible places, Wheelmap.org, to the La Skarrozzata participants. Because many locations in Bologna have not yet been entered or marked on the Wheelmap there is still much work to be done in Bologna by the mapping community. Various follow-up activities are being planned by the La Skarrozzata organizers, including a mapping event at a local school.
The participants of the wheelchair „walk“ were confronted with a wide array of barriers during the one hour tour. Sidewalk curbs, steep inclines, stairs and uneven pavements were some of the hindrances encountered by the wheelchair users. Luckily, the Wheelmap.org team from Berlin had brought along 5 mobile ramps to help to bridge some of the handicapping barriers.
Members of the MyAccessible.EU team took part in the event, informing participants about the European project, speaking to wheelchair users about accessibility in Bologna and documenting the event with photographs, interviews and a video of the wheelchair walk. Bologna Channel TV reported on the successful event and an article with a series of photographs appeared in La Repubblica.