With its new project, the self-determined life association Würzburg wants to draw attention to the barriers that most people do not see in everyday life.
The heel in front of the door to Marcus Topsnik’s shop is only five centimeters high. Most of the visitors who walk in and out of MainCake on Sterngasse to get a piece of cheesecake don’t even notice. The entrance to the small pastry shop seems to be almost at ground level. Not so for Frederik Suter, however, because he can only move around in his wheelchair. What is usually hidden to people without walking difficulties is one of many small hurdles in their everyday life. Topsnik has now been transferred to the “Lego ramps” project of the self-determined life Würzburg e. V. (WüSL) made aware.
Up to ten ramps planned within a year
Michael Gerr is the head of the WüSL advice center. Frederik Suter took part in his consulting offer and learned about the project, which is supposed to provide more accessibility in the public Würzburg area. Together with Julian Wendel, the spokesperson for accessibility (WüSL), and other participants, Gerr builds colorful wheelchair ramps from Lego bricks, which are then attached to various shops in the city center. So that the ramps are stable, the Lego blocks are attached to one another and the individual levels are then glued. “Some say you can even drive over it in your car,” jokes Wendel. Up to ten ramps are initially planned within a year.
Because of the security and the possible implementation, the initiators have decided on a maximum ramp height of twelve centimeters. If the ramps were built higher, they would also be longer and, under certain circumstances, protrude too far into the street. Around 2000 Lego bricks are needed for such a ramp. Because the initiators do not have enough of their own Lego bricks for the large number of ramps, they are dependent on donations. Collecting stones is currently the main problem, says Wendel.
Lego brick donation boxes in the city center
Sustainable recycling also plays a major role, Wendel continues. In several places in the city, such as the city library, the coffee factory or the environmental station, those responsible have therefore placed donation boxes for old and surplus stones.
WüSL provides the shops with the colorful play stone ramps free of charge. The bright colors are no coincidence, because the project also includes another aspect: The ramps should also catch the eye of people without physical disabilities. Gerr and Wendel, who both rely on wheelchairs themselves, would like to draw attention to the barriers that still exist despite the UN disability rights convention on accessibility.
The cobblestone path through Sterngasse alone is anything but barrier-free. As he rolls up the uneven road, Julian Wendel has his head strapped to the wheelchair: “I have big problems getting along in Würzburg. Every single ramp is a relief for me in everyday life.”