The City of Stockholm

After conducting empathy exercises for the Office of Urban Development in the City of Stockholm, we interviewed Katarina Kronheffer, Construction Project Manager, about what they have learned from the training sessions.

You assigned Funka to arrange empathy exercises where the participants get to test what it is like to get about in Stockholm with simulated visual and mobility impairment, tell us more!

- All Construction Project Managers at my unit, that is, the people responsible for design and construction on public land, are offered to take this course. The aim of the exercises is to give us a better understanding of how it is to get around with disabilities in our city, but also to give us guidance how we can do the right thing from the beginning. We want as many people as possible to be able to access the public spaces we construct.

What was the most memorable and instructive that the participants brought back from the training?

- What we talked a lot about during the debriefing was how steep one perceived all inclines, even the smallest, during both exercises. Moreover we quickly realised how much the "simple" aids mean, that the kerb ramps at crossings are accessible, that all markings are correct, and that there are directional aids on the pedestrian crossing controls. For us this was a very important lesson, and in the future we will really think about the little things in a project that makes a real difference in reality.

In what way will the participants use the increased knowledge in their day-to-day activities?

- Our responsibility as a Construction Project Managers is to ensure that the city and its citizens can experience the best possible public space, including everything from streets and squares, to playgrounds and other recreational areas. There are lots of different agendas, policies and technical and economic requirements to be taken into account. The increased knowledge from this particular course allows us at an early stage to begin "thinking" and planning correctly. It also sparked a debate on our unit how we in other parts of our job can include accessibility. For example, by producing a handbook for project planning, as well as looking at the possibility of getting our plans reviewed to a greater extent than today, instead of checking already completed projects.