Government Action on Disability Policy
A Global Survey
Part II - Government Replies as Country Profiles
Download 'Government Reports on the UN Standard Rules' as a PDF file (440 KB)
© Dimitris Michailakis 1997
Ministry of Social Affairs (2 April 1996)
Compare with the following Country Report(s): DPI (Handikappförbundens Samarbetsorgan), DPI (Neurologiskt Handikappades Riksf-rbund), DPI (Hörselskadades Riksförbund), DPI (Riksförbundet för Mag- och Tarmsjuka), ILSMH, WBU, WFD
The officially recognized disability policy in Sweden is expressed in manifold ways: in law, in guidelines adopted by the Government, in policy adopted by political parties, in policy adopted by NGOs. The emphasis - in descending scale - is on individual support, rehabilitation, accessibility measures, prevention, anti-discrimination law.
Since the adoption of the Standard Rules the Government has initiated and supported the following information campaigns conveying the message of full participation: A translation of the Standard Rules in Swedish with an introduction of the Minister of Health and Social Affairs and the Minister of Foreign Affairs emphasizing the responsibility of every citizen. In addition the Ministry of Social Affairs has submitted the Rules to the Parliament, to different Ministries and Boards, to Municipalities and County Councils, to organizations etc.; The Government has entrusted the Disability Ombudsman with the task of disseminating and promoting the Rules in Sweden. Accordingly the Disability Ombudsman has arranged seven regional information conferences and prepared an awareness campaign in spring 1996; The Standard Rules are available in Braille, cassette tapes and in an easy-to-read form.
The rights of persons with disabilities are protected both by special and general legislation. The judicial mechanism available to protect the rights of persons with disabilities is due process (legal remedy through courts). Administrative and other non-judicial bodies adopted include: an Ombudsman, a Governmental body (administrative), and national/regional supervision.
The general legislation applies to all categories of persons with disabilities with respect to: education, employment, the right to marriage, the right to parenthood/family, political rights, access to court-of-law, right to privacy, property rights. The following benefits are guaranteed by law to persons with disabilities: health and medical care, training, rehabilitation and counselling, financial security, employment, independent living, participation in decisions affecting them, technical aids, sign-language interpretation for any purpose, state financial support for buying and adapting one's a car of own and state financial support for adaptation of housing accomodations.
The following laws have been enacted since the adoption of the Rules: The Act concerning Support and Service for Persons with Certain Functional Impairment and the Assistance Benefit Act; the Act concerning the Disability Ombudsman; the Act concerning a Pilot Project with Parental Influence on school attendance of children with mental retardation; An amendment in the Act concerning Suitable Public Transport to Persons with Disabilities saying that in planning and implementing the transports the needs of persons with disabilities must be taken into consideration.
There are laws and regulations to ensure accessibility in the build environment establishing national design standards requiring that public places, the outdoor environment, land, sea and air transportation, and housing are made accessible. Accessibility in the build environment is observed by a national authority, local Governments, and the constructor. The following measures have been promoted by the Government to facilitate accessibility in the build environment: levelling off pavements, marking parking areas, installing automatic doors, lifts and accessible toilets, ensuring access to public places, improving accessibility in housing, providing financial incentives for accessibility measures, when building and renovating housing and when adapting private buildings to the needs of persons with disabilities, installing special lighting and using contrast colours for visually impaired, and provision of specially adapted motor vehicles. Special transport arrangements for persons with disabilities include municipal transport service both locally and nation wide and specially adopted public transportation. Special transport is available for the following purposes: medical treatment, education, work, and recreational purpose. When planning to build accessible environments the most difficult obstacles are: economic/budgetary factors and lack of knowledge, research and information. To some extent there is a disability awareness component included in the training of planners, architects and construction engineers.
Sign language for deaf people is recognized as the official language of deaf people and is used as the first language in education of deaf people. There are Government measures for encouraging media and other forms of public information to make their services available for persons with disabilities, such as information from the Ministries being made available; the Swedish television broadcasts news in sign language and to some extent with text; special provisions regarding news for deaf-blind people, supported by the Government; easy-to-read books, newspapers, magazines, TV-programmes etc. for persons with mental disabilities. The following services are provided, in order to facilitate information and communication between persons with disabilities and other persons: literature in Braille/tape, news magazines on tape/Braille, sign language interpretation being available for any purpose, easy readers for persons with mental disabilities, and to some extent computer services.
Organizations of persons with disabilities
There is a national umbrella organization where all organizations of disabled persons are represented, with the exception of the Swedish Federation of Disabled Persons, the Swedish National Association of the Deaf, the Swedish Federations of the Visually Handicapped, and about ten other small organizations. There are legal provisions mandating the representatives of persons with disabilities to participate in policy-making and to work with Governmental institutions. Organizations are often consulted when laws and regulations with a disability aspect are being prepared. Consultations take place at national, regional and local level. The Government financially supports existing and new organizations. Persons with disabilities participate to a very limited extent in Government, legislature, judiciary, to some extent in political parties and to a great extent in NGOs. In Sweden disabled persons' organizations have the role to: advocate rights and improved services, mobilize persons with disabilities, identify needs and priorities, participate in the planning, implementation and evaluation of services and measures concerning the lives of persons with disabilities, contribute to public awareness, provide services (to some extent), and promote/organize income generating activities (to some extent).
Co-ordination of work
Sweden has no national co-ordinating committee. However, according to the Government measures have been taken in order to strengthen disability matters. The Under-secretary of the State Group acts within the Government as a focal point on disability matters. There is a Disability Ombudsman - assisted by a special council representing different segments of society - having the responsibility for monitoring the rights of persons with disabilities.
Though the Standard Rules are expressing views being very close to the Swedish policy on disability, they are an important and appropriate instrument for developing the policy in this field.