In March this year, a project called “Ramp Up Reykjavík” was launched to help local businesses install wheelchair ramps to improve accessibility for people with disabilities. According to a press release published on the Reykjavík City website, the organization not only achieved its initial goal of installing 100 ramps in the capital four months ahead of schedule, but also has a surplus of funds – exactly 15 million ISK that will be donated to the Accessibility Fund to help finance additional ramps.
“Ramp Up Reykjavik” is a joint venture undertaken by local businesses, trade unions, ministries, associations, banks and city officials. It was initiated by entrepreneur Haraldur Inga Þorleifsson after being stuck repeatedly in front of downtown shops and restaurants. He recalls a recent summer night where he had to wait outside the store while his family walked in as there was a step too high at the entrance to overcome his wheelchair.
“It wasn’t the first time” – writes. “Before, I waited outside, often. I didn’t go to the cafe because of that degree. I haven’t been seeing my friends. I did not go with my family to the city center on Þorláksmessa. All because of this degree. “
Haraldur is not the only one in this situation – thousands of Icelanders and tourists are using wheelchairs. This is what inspired him to start the initiative “Ramp Up Reykjavik”, as part of which he raised funds to finance 100 climbs at the beginning. Under the terms of the financing, restaurant owners can obtain a refund of up to 80% of the cost of installing a wheelchair ramp in their premises.
“It’s amazing how simple it was” Says Haraldur. “All the founding members, planning authorities, restaurants and shops in the area made a real effort to get the driveways built. We had a lot of support from the beginning “ – he adds.
Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson praised the project and said the city was ready to continue funding. “Ramp Up Reykjavik” will continue to improve accessibility around the capital, but is also expected to move on. The mayor of Akureyri, Ásthildur Sturludóttir, said she would support the project in her city, and both Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir and Minister for Social Affairs and Children Ásmundur Einar Daðason said they would support the initiative in the countryside, seeing how it worked in the capital.