The following is ICT Enablers response to the Agency for Participations Call for Opinions on Disability Policy (link in Swedish)
What measures could be taken to increase the participation in society of people regardless of ability?
Firstly, measures are needed to change the perception of people with disabilities in society so these are seen as equals to other citizens. One way to accomplish this is to make the disabled more visible in media. For example, short portraits of people with disabilities who appear on TV / web advertising could be a channel to reach out.
Secondly, disability issues need to go from being a special area to be naturally integrated into society, such as the issue of gender equality has become. There is unfortunately a long way to go and it will require resources in the same order as that spent on the issue of gender equality, it is very important for the government clearly communicates that these two issues have the same importance and is really about the same thing, equality. To achieve results, there must be resources available, otherwise the words will fall flat.
Finally more people with disabilities need to get jobs. The paths available today need to be streamlined (especially processing times by government authorities need to be shortened) and educational opportunities for people with disabilities improved. The latter mainly regards reaching a nationwide agreement on sufficient support in the education system regardless of functional abilities.
How do you see that disability policy would have to be organized and controlled in order to be more effective?
An organization needs to take a holistic approach in the matter and have the mandate to make sure that other state organizations, municipalities and counties are following legal requirements and regulations. The aforementioned organization must provide support to state organizations, municipalities and counties.
The holistic authority could be an expanded Agency for Participation, an authority for human rights or an authority specially geared to ensure the compliance of UNCRPD and other legislation in the area.
Are there any priorities or aspects that should specifically be included in a future disability policy?
Equality, work and training as I already mentioned in paragraph 1 is priority 1. It is also extremely important for Sweden to learn to do things right from the start regarding accessibility. Measures to get a product, service or place to work for all is often something that is an afterthought. The reason is because disability issues are not sufficiently integrated into Swedish society.
In addition, I would like to see that Sweden is actively working to maintain leadership in disability issues. It can, for example implement better regulation than is required to meet EU directives or the UNCRPD. It can also support innovation in the area that caters to a global market, in the long run it would lead to increased exports.
Do you have any other thoughts about disability policy development? Both present and future.
My opinion is that the disability policy during the last ten years has been towards greater decentralization, which has led to different conditions in different geographic locations and for different types of disabilities. This must be turned around into a national consensus.
My opinion is also that the downsizing and resource reallocations in the last ten years in the field has had a negative impact on many people with disabilities.
In the future, I hope that Sweden takes its full responsibility and fulfill the requirements of the UNCRPD. Disability issue also needs to be given the same importance as gender equality, which it should be part of (in the same way as LGBT rights are now becoming). It is my hope that this will lead to things in society done right from the start, from a disability perspective.