On 5-8 March 2024 project partners from Kurzeme, Vidzeme and Estonia went for an experience exchange visit to Sweden to see accessibility solutions at museums, expositions, science centres and the city environment in two cities which have received the European “Access City Award” – Gothenburg (2014) and Jonkoping (2021).

On the first day of the visit, 5 March, we visited the Universeum scoence centre in Gothenburg, which features a huge aquarium and a rainforest, as well as expositions on animals, human body, chemistry, physics, mathematics, space. What has been used to interpret different objects, factures, senses? Touch the snake skin, feel how fast and sudden can be its bite, touch the tactile figures of different animals, feel how warm or cold different animals are, guess the size of animal brain, hear the beeting of your own heart and dive into the world of planets!  3 hours were barely enough for a 7 level centre. We do suggest it if you search for an inclusive and accessible place to actively spend the day!

The Nature history museum in Gothenburg offers various tactile solutions to get to know the animal world – here one can touch different animal furs, a dolphin, an elephant and even a whale!

In spite of the building being a protected heritage, there are still solutions found to provide access to all at the Rohhska Design museum. Nice feature to have 2 equal significance entrances adapted to disabled on both sides of the front stairs. The museum also moved the individual disabled toilet to the common toilet rooms, as it was initially separated from the other visitors, thus discriminating the rights of the disabled persons to equal access And an interesting lifting ramp solution!

TOGETHER – one of the most exciting exhibitions visited. Everything that is hard and wonderful about being together presented in an open and easy way in several thematic sections – understanding each other, agree to disagree, at home, being without, move it! etc. This exhibition is specifically tailored for children aged up to 12 years, but is accessible and inclusive and will be exciting for all

Most of the places we visited here in Gothenburg had free of charge wheelchair using options provided by museums, as well as these handy and easy-to-use portable chairs to pick and sit a bit wherever you feel tired.

On 7 March the project partners were kindly hosted by the Jönköping municipality and visited the Jönköping city. We started with the overall introduction to municipality and its functions, cooperation with disability rights’ organisations and municipality’s efforts to facilitate accessibility. Great thing is that the Municipality has its accessibility specialist, who also regularly follows the procuements planned and can point out on cases where accessibility issues should be taken into account. Each year the municipality also grants its own, local accessibility award. Later we had a walking tour in the city to see some interesting access solutions. For example, the street guidline for the blind, which is not a simple guiding line, but also nicely designed and illuminated in the night-time to remind of the city’s history – in past Jönköping was the match industry city. Almost all streets and passages in the city are adapted to wheelchair users. The municipality even reconstructed one of the most challenging streets in the city centre to lift the whole street up in order to get rid of the old house thresholds that were pretty serious obstacles to enter the buildings. Another interesting solution is display shelves put on streets in front of the shops to display different shop items – meant to prevent accidents, especially for people with visual impairment, who might not notice the items and accidentaly fall by catching upon them.

Meaningful accessibility solutions are provided at the Jonkoping concert hall SPIRA:

  • wide lanes at halls for wheelchair users, the same level with the scene
  • possibility to easily and quickly take out chairs to allow wheelchairs users sitting along their friends and other visitors
  • contrastly marked steps and large, illuminated row numbers
  • smart solution on stair railings with buttons reflecting the first and the last three steps;
  • guideline at the entrace, tactile hall map, braille script on info plates and many, many more!

In the afternoon, we visited the exhibition of tactile John Bauer pictures:

  • before entering, visitors are being warmly hosted and introduced with the staff, the museum, so that all visitors feel comfident and comfortable
  • they are told about the paintings and welcome to touch the forest animals present in pictures to get the notion and the mood of the pictures
  • offered to smell paint
  • and dress, if they like, as some of the fairytale characters.

Truly nice and welcoming staff and great, inclusive exhibition!

On the last day of the visit, 8 March, we were hosted by the Jonkoping Disability Rights Federation, which representatives gave a ptesentation on theeir work, running projects and together we later walked along the city streets to see some more accessibility examples.

We are returing home drawn on exciting experience of foreign colleagues which we learned of with a genuine interest and satisfaction and eager to share the best examples with local partners and colleagues, as well as use the acquired knowledge to create our tacile pilot solutions!

Project activities are being implemented with the support of the Interreg Estonia – Latvia Programme 2021-2027.

Infomation prepared by:

Project Leader in Kurzeme Planning Region
Alise Lūse
Tālrunis: 26567874, alise.luse@kurzemesregions.lv