Province of Styria (Austria)

General informationPhoto: Stemonitis, Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ennstal.jpg

The Province of Styria, situated in the south of Austria, covers about 16,390 km² - with mountains in the northern and western part of the region and hills in southern and eastern Styria. Apart from the provincial capital Graz (about 250,000 inhabitants) the region is quite sparsely populated with only a few (small) towns (up to 20,000 inhabitants) and a lot of small villages and spread-out settlements. There’s a quite high (and still increasing) share of old people especially in the more remote rural parts of the region. Tourism and agriculture are important economic sectors in the whole region, and there are also some industrial areas. The towns and big villages have quite good public transport connections (by rail and regional buses), however in the sparsely populated rural areas public transport services are rather weak. Shops and medical services are mostly located in the towns and larger villages; thus in rural areas many people must travel quite far to run their daily errands.


Actual state of accessibility-workPhoto: FGM-AMOR

In Styria, responsibilities for accessibility work are split among the regional and the local authorities: The regional government is responsible for regional planning, regional public transport, and for planning, construction and maintenance of the road-network connecting the settlements. In addition the regional government provides support and advice for the local governments, who are responsible for local land-use planning, local public transport, as well as planning, construction and maintenance of local roads, pedestrians’- and cyclists’-infrastructure. Therefore, in addition to representatives of all relevant departments of the regional government, representatives of two municipalities also participated in the Styrian ISEMOA-team.

The accessibility-work of the regional government is already quite advanced in the area of accessible building/construction: there’s a dedicated department for advice on barrier-free constructions and regulations for barrier-free building/construction are also part of the funding policy of the regional government. Awareness about the importance of accessibility is also quite high within the department responsible for regional public transport, however there are severe budget restrictions. In the area of land-use planning and regional development the concept of accessibility isn’t an important topic, yet.


ISEMOA implementation

The regional government of the Province of Styria implemented the ISEMOA method, in order to find out where the weak points in their accessibility work are, and in order to get inspiration for improvement of their accessibility work. Since at the same time the regional government of the Province of Styria was developing an action-plan for the implementation of the “UN convention for the rights of people with disabilities” in the Province of Styria, they appreciated that ISEMOA could help them to further develop the mobility-related part of this action-plan.

During the ISEMOA-process the Styrian ISEMOA-team developed a range of measures that should be implemented to improve the regional government’s accessibility work. Among those measures are for example: adoption of the guideline of the city of Graz for accessible design of crossings also for the roads and streets that lie within the responsibility of the regional government; integration of aspects of accessibility into the existing audit “familyfriendly municipality”; integration of the topic “accessibility” into staff-training of the road-construction department;...


Quotes of local stakeholders

“During the ISEMOA-process I’ve got a lot of interesting insights into the work of the regional government – for example I didn’t know much about the regional land-use planning concepts and about the organisational structures before...” (Representative of people with disabilities, who participated in the Styrian ISEMOA-team)

“The most important result of the ISEMOA-process is the fact that it induced cooperation among the departments and working-groups. Since accessibility is a cross-sectoral issue such cooperation is really essential.” (Representative of the “family and generations”-department of the regional government of the Province of Styria)

“The ISEMOA-audit is a great possibility for coordination and networking. I’ve got a much clearer view of the strong and weak points of the regional government’s accessibility work, now. For sure I would recommend such an ISEMOA audit also to other local or regional authorities, since exchange of information and experience becomes easier, if more regions use the same tools and methods.” (Political representative of the regional government of the Province of Styria)

“The ISEMOA-audit is quite time-consuming, but it’s really interesting and worth the effort: I’ve learned a lot about all the aspects of accessibility, and I’ve learned a lot about the work of the other departments and initiatives – for example: now I know whom to contact for specific issues.” (Representative of the transport department of the regional government of the Province of Styria)