Situation Before the Initiative Began
Until 1990, the municipality had no public policies for accessibility. People with disabilities did not have access to public transportation and spaces; they ended up being segregated from many activities. This situation used to reproduce protests and claims from institutions that stood up for the rights of the disabled people.
Establishment of Priorities
It was a priority to create laws that would protect disabled people and make possible their social inclusion.
Right after that, the first accessible bus lines were created followed by the transportation“door-to-door” and adapted bus terminals.
The accessibility in public buildings has been achieved through the Complementary Law nº 235/2000 which regulated the establishment of criteria in public and private constructions. Educational activities taught the population about the importance of being respectful to accessibility.
In 2009, the municipality started demanding that 100% of the bus fleet had to be adapted,allowing the fulfillment of the target plan.
Formulation of Objectives And Strategies
Since2000, the accessibility was effectively incorporated into public transportation and civil constructions.
Today, the government equipment are already born accessible to all citizens. To make it possible,the adoption of a pedagogical strategy was essential in order to demonstrate tothe entire chain of services the necessity of recognizing human diversity.“Every constructor is an ally and each visit, a class” was the slogan of a program that built a vast network of professionals that are prepared for accessibility demands.
Mobilisation of Resources
The establishment of accessibility in Uberlândia took place through public policiesthat shared with the private sector the responsibility of transforming the cityinto an inclusive environment.
With the approval ofthe Complementary Law nº 235/00, accessibility started been required in allcivil constructions. Uberlândia mobilized resources and help of its engineersand architects that still guide and inspect works, besides providing handbooksand courses with information about accessibility.
In 2003, an agreementof US$69,445.00 established with the federal government, made possible theconstruction of 1,500 sidewalk ramps indowntown Uberlândia, beyond the demarcation of about 100 parking spots and the installation of 1,200 meters of tactile floors.
The process ofrenewing the bus fleet began in 2008, and accessibility was a mandatory item,which demanded an investment of US$1,561,535.4 and it was done by three concessionaires.
The current investmentis of US$1.500.240,00 a year in 50 adapted vans that follow an accessibletransportation model.
It is estimated that US$4.385.727,77 are spent per year in order to guarantee free public transportation to 12 thousand people with disabilities; in Uberlândia, those that prove their disability following the criteria of Federal Decree 5296, are entitled to use the public transportation for free.
The government has made laws and structured organs that were focused on controlling the procedures of the establishment of accessibility in the city, especially with the creation of The Accessibility Division in 1998, which is linked to The Municipal Urban Planning Department.
That agency showed effective results after the requirement that the companies had to reserve a percentage of accessible vehicles, in order to renew its bus fleet.
However, the costs generated by this requirement have caused discomfort among the concessionaires.
The problem was solved by incorporating the value of the elevators to the total cost of the buses,allowing the companies to dilute the value in rates.
By that time,Uberlândia had 50 vans that were doing accessible transportation“door-to-door”, which has been attending people with severe disabilities and clearly in need of being included in the process of habilitation, rehabilitation,formal education and access to culture and entertainment.
In 2008, with the expiration of the concession contracts, it was included in the bidding documents the requirement that 100% of the bus fleet had to be adapted according to accessibility criteria.
The adoption of educational methods
Another major problem faced was the lack of knowledge from professionals of the civil construction field to the standards and criteria for adjusting spaces.
In 1997, the city’ssocial mobilization held the first national educational campaign with focus on accessibility titled “Uberlândia Without Barriers”. Its main goal was to show the potential of disable people as citizens and consumers.
After established, in 2000, the Complementary Law that required the incorporation of accessibility to constructions and restores, the municipality adopted educational measures to overcome the difficulties. Taught courses related to accessibility, developed a handbook with instructions for adjusting spaces, and still holds a communication channel between community and engineers or architects that help people with their doubts.
These procedures have changed the way the city sees accessibility by naturally integrating people into a group.
Committed to the development of inclusive policies, Uberlândia could make its public bus fleet all adapted in 2009, five years before the deadline established by the Federal Decree n° 5296/04 and also recommend by The UN Convention, which was ratified in Brazil in 2008, with the status of constitutional amendment.
Of more than 12 thousand people with disabilities that have access to free public transportation, about 12% of them are economically active, according to “Center of Studies,Researches and Economic Social Projects” (CEPES) from the Federal University ofUberlândia.
The expansion ofaccessibility has helped to combat the low level of education that disabled people have.Today,over 16% of them that are up to 29 years old are studying.
An important result achieved by the urban policies governance was the creation of “The Municipal Superintendence of People with Disabilities and Urban Mobility”, a government agency that has its own budget set up to integrate discussions about the rightsof people with disabilities.
The Superintendence,along with the Accessibility Division and The Municipal Council of Disabled People, ensure that the rights of people with disabilities are protected and integrated into all actions taken by the city hall.
The constant visits of representatives from other municipalities across the country attest the effectiveness of the results and show how good examples that can generate corresponding initiatives.
By creating laws and agencies, accessibility became a requirement of the municipality. Spreading the concepts of accessibility as a form of respect for diversity and equity of rights of all citizens, the municipal government could guarantee the sustainability of this action with a low financial cost.
Social and Economic Aspects
The accessibility model developed by Uberlândia was acknowledge as a good practice by theMinistry of Cities. Before, disabled people were looking for solutions to improve their quality of life, but now, they have free access to all public spaces. The equal treatment ensures that their physical condition is not an obstacle to their participation in the society.
The large circulationof people with disabilities is product of a culture of full respect for diversity established by the local government. It’s growing the number of paralympic athletes in the city, and the same happens in dancing and acting performances staged by artists with disabilities. The local experience is allowing the elevation of self-esteem.
Until 1992, peoplewith disabilities could get around only with their own vehicles or by usingspecial lines of low achievements. Today, they use public transportation in thesame way that others do, not generating environmental problems that come fromexclusive transportation.
Laws imposed by federal, state and municipal government gave support, so the accessibility program in Uberlândia became a reality. The Municipal Organic Law of 1990 began the process of adaptation of public spaces. But it was through the Municipal Decree nº 8106 and the Complementary Law nº 235, both from 2000, that the process of controlling and management were imposed. Today, the agencies work hard so the laws can be obeyed, ensuring that each new undertaking inaccessibility is respected.
Planning focused on demand
·You must consider the demand of those who use the service, so you can build a system that attends everyone with the highest degree of satisfaction. This lesson was learned after the installation of special lines, that didn’t attend disabled people with sustainable manner, and were changed to SIT – Integrated Transportation System.
To educate is better than to punish
·The adoption of methods of pedagogical approaches that could spread the accessibility issue to civil constructions and public transportation avoided fines, created a great involvement of people, and could guarantee the sustainability of the initiative.
Accessibility doesn’tmean high costs to the public coffers
·It was learned that it’spossible to establish accessibility with public polices of low budget having the private sector as a partner. For instance, the pubic transportation in Uberlândia became 100% accessible by a requirement of the municipality to the concession holders.
Accessibility as a culture
·Finally, it was learned that we must have accessibility as culture that is understood by the society and applied to the public administration broadly and unrestricted, with no segregated measures. Nowadays, Uberlândia does not allocate specific funds to the establishment of accessibility in the city, because it is part of its philosophy to encourage the incorporation of accessibility in all actions and works undertaken by the municipality.
In Uberlândia you can see a transfer of knowledge held by technical visits, lectures, awards and publications that show the city as a reference in accessibility.
The deployment of adapted buses, along with structural corridors and bus terminals got even more attention after being recognized by the Public Prosecution Office and The National Council of Disabled People. Visiting the city in order to learn about the system, Isabel Maior, the coordinator of the National Sub-Secretariat for Promoting the Rights of Disabled People (CORDE), said: “We are here to learn from Uberlândia and take to other places what we saw here”. Since then, the Integrated Transportation System has been calling attention to representativesof others cities that want to have a similar model of accessibility.
The city also sees its experiences disseminated in international publications that emphasize the ongoing and well-planned job of the municipality that aims to build four more accessible bus corridors.
Moreover, Uberlândiawill participate at the 2010 Expo Shangai - "Better City, Better Life." In January of 2010, the city received the UN photographer Alessandro Scotti, who could record the dynamics of urban expansion promoted by the municipality. As a result, 30 pictures of the city will be part of a photographic exhibition in Shanghai.
Uberlândia is thefirst city in the country to have 100% of accessible transportation with high efficiency and a bus fleet of up to 6 months of usage. As a consequence, it received in October of 2009, a trophy during “The Fourth International Seminaron Federalism and Development” held in Brasilia, for the project "Best Transportationin Brazil”.
In order to disseminate this successful experience, the Accessibility Division has lectured at conferences and forums that happen in other cities.
·Enactment of the Municipal Organic Law, in06/05/1990; Beginning of the establishment of accessibility in the city.
· Enactment of the Municipal Decree nº 8106, inJanuary of 2000 Law that created the Accessibility Division.
·Enactment of the Complementary Law nº 235, inJune of 2000. Law that requires accessibility in civil constructions.
·Federal Decree nº5296/04.Itregulates two Federal Laws (10048/00 and 10098/00) and establishes accessibility criteria in Brazil.