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Dignity and accessibility in Sweden

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. However, a subtle yet important shift is happening: inclusion in society of those with disabilities is now being considered a question of democracy and human rights, rather than viewed in terms of social and welfare policy.

In January 2015, "lack of accessibility" became a new form of discrimination amended into Sweden's Discrimination Act to help those with disabilities to participate in society on equal terms.

Cities in Sweden are now working towards accessibility for all. Borås, a small city in southwest Sweden has become a model for the country, and indeed the rest of the world, having won the Access City Award 2015 from the EU-commission. The award was given for "a comprehensive and strategic approach to creating an accessible city for all; a good example of local action to help removing the many barriers that people with disabilities still face in their daily life."

Stockholm's "Dignified Entrance" project (Värdig Entré) is working to make sure that disabled people can use main entrances to public buildings like everyone else, rather than be forced to use service elevators and back doors.

In Sweden, people with disabilities have the right to personal assistance, free of charge, including a personal assistant, group housing with 24 hour assistance, or other supportive arrangements. This improves immeasurably the quality of life for people with disabilities and their families.

More people live with a disability now than ever before due to our aging societies as well as improved medical treatments helping manage long-term health problems. A majority of people with disabilities develop them over their lifetimes. As Karin Flyckt, the National Coordinator on Disability issues, for the National Board of Health and Welfare reflects, "People with disabilities will grow in number, this we know. It's important to take this question seriously".