Making Sweden more accessible
A society that wants to allow everyone to participate under the same conditions, regardless of disability, requires ease of access in streets and public places, and on public transport. To improve ease of access, the Government is working with the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions to ensure that streets and public places can be used by everyone.
People who have difficulty taking public transport because of disability are entitled to use subsidized transportation, provided using taxis or larger modified vehicles. Municipalities are responsible for this service. In some cases, people may receive subsidies for their own vehicles.
People with disabilities can apply for municipal grants to modify their homes. This could involve removing thresholds, fitting support rails, widening doorways or installing automatic door openers and special elevators. Grants cover all types of disabilities, such as limited mobility, impaired vision, mental disorders and allergies.
The main goal of Swedish disability policy has long been to ensure that people with disabilities have power and influence over their everyday lives. In pursuit of this goal, the focus has now shifted from social issues and welfare matters to democracy and human rights.
Almost all people with disabilities in Sweden live in their own homes, and most children with disabilities grow up at home with their families. Most children and adolescents attend regular schools, although there are special types of schooling for those who are deaf or hearing-impaired, or who have severe mobility or learning disabilities. There are also plans to establish special schools for students with impaired vision combined with other disabilities, and for students with severe speech impediments.
About 1.5 million people in Sweden have a disability of some kind. The principal goal of Sweden’s disability policy has long been to ensure that people in this group have power and influence over their everyday lives. To achieve this goal, the focus has been shifted from social and welfare issues to democracy and human rights.
“I want people to stop seeing the wheelchair and instead see the person sitting in it — only then can we be treated as equals,” says comedian and musician Jesper Odelberg.
Victoria Webster became Sweden’s first specialist in emergency medical care. This attracted considerable media attention, since she has a cerebral palsy (CP)* disorder.
“I’d like to travel and fly without having to think about the practical arrangements — but the practical part severely restricts my movements,” says entrepreneur Veronica Hedenmark, who uses an electric wheelchair.
Sweden’s aim to create a society accessible to all is much more than removing physical obstacles for people with mobility impairment. It’s about meeting diverse needs with user-friendly solutions, a shift in attitudes, equal opportunities and the possibility to participate as an individual.
As spring arrives and the tourist season begins, Sweden is doing its best to welcome all guests. By 2010, Stockholm aims to be the most accessible capital in the world.