© KölnTourismus GmbH

Inclusive meetings in Cologne

Breaking barriers

Inclusion is easily defined – everyone is included, regardless of their age, skin color, religion, sexual identity, or physical state. But for everyone to participate we need to overcome barriers – in our heads as well as in our cities.

Breaking down barriers provides everyone with the opportunity to participate. According to the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons, participation is a human right that benefits us all and not just the disabled.

Inclusion works incredibly well if we don't allow ourselves to be guided by stereotypes and prejudices, but approach everyone with an open mind and, as Daya Holzhauer (chairwoman of the GSBV) puts it, "look for their strengths, not their weaknesses."

Good to know:

For years now, Cologne has offered a wide range of locations, services and products that make events and activities in the city fully accessible to participants, guests, or employees. The brochure "Cologne Barrier-Free" also provides you with important tips offline.

In addition to information on numerous barrier-free cafés, clubs, restaurants, and hotels, the CCB is also happy to provide you with information on barrier-free event locations, city tours for people with limited mobility, tours in sign language and for blind and visually impaired guests. On KölnTourismus' website and in the Service Center at Cologne Cathedral, we will be happy to provide you with up-to-date information on barrier-free exhibitions and museums and give you tips for barrier-free use of Cologne's public transport or the Deutsche Bahn. 

The Wheelchair-Map (an online map for wheelchair-accessible locations with up-to-date information on functioning elevators) provides you with additional tips for more mobility.

By the way, KölnTourismus's service center has been barrier-free since 2005. In addition to a ground-level main entrance, it has a side entrance with a ramp, two elevators and a low counter.

Enablers to accessibility enable convenience for all!

Everyone benefits from an accessible event and not just people with physical or mental disabilities. Accessible events benefit everyone. Participants generally all see sufficient elevators, good lighting, auditory amplification, clear signage, and easy-to-understand event information as benefits.

The statement "inclusion enriches everyone" takes on a very pragmatic, easy to understand dimension here. Our checklist shows event organizers what they should look out for when planning an inclusive event in Cologne. From communication through travel to program design, all the key aspects of accessible event planning are summarized clearly in list form.

Old hands

As early as 2015/2016, a CCB brochure focused on the theme year of the Cologne Science Roundtable "Older - More Colorful - Cologne". A diverse society requires diverse solutions.

That is why in 2021 Cologne drew up the Cologne Perspectives 2030+ urban strategy, a concept that integrates the UN's 17 goals as a guideline for sustainable urban development. The SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) formulated therein are a global plan to promote sustainable peace and prosperity, and the protection of our planet in harmony with social justice. In addition to the goals of combating poverty, hunger, and inequalities, it is also about "making cities and communities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable" (Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities).

The City of Cologne is on the right track. Already, it is working on accessible residential neighborhoods, a criteria catalog for inclusive neighborhoods, its own chief inclusion officer to enforce legal inclusion requirements, employing severely disabled staff (8.9 % are or have equal status), strengthening its departments with inclusion officers.

More accessible venues

© Koelncongress GmbH, Foto: Axel Schulten

The Cologne Marriott Hotel, but also numerous other Cologne hotels, such as the Hilton Cologne or the Stadthotel am Römerturm, are ideally suited to ensuring that events are successful in every respect.

In addition to hotels, Cologne also has other accessible locations, such as clubs and large event venues. For example, the Flora Köln in the Botanical Garden or the Bürgerhaus Kalk. The large hall can accommodate up to 500 people and the venue has an induction loop. Induction loops ensure good and clear sound for users of hearing aids, for example, as they alone amplify the signals on stage, effectively suppressing background noise.

Declared a "palace for all", Flora Köln received a "Thanks to the builders" plaque. The award, which was presented by the VDK NRW social association, recognizes exemplary barrier-free locations.

Take a look at our overview and choose a barrier-free location that meets your expectations!