Disability issues in Sweden

Disability policy is cross-sectoral. This means that measures and the responsibility for achieving the disability policy objectives lie within the relevant area of society, for example labour market policy or education policy. The policy is intended to effectively promoting and maintaining respect for human rights. The Ministry of Health and Social Affairs coordinates national disability policy.

Disability issues must be a natural part of society and not dealt with as separate issues. Measures to achieve the disability policy objectives are cross-sectoral.

UN Convention governs disability policy

Sweden is one of the states that have ratified (acceded to) the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The UN human rights conventions are legally binding for the countries that have chosen to ratify them. The aim of the Convention is to eliminate obstacles preventing people with disabilities from exercising their human rights.

The Convention, which focuses on non-discrimination, lists necessary measures for people with disabilities to be able to exercise their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

Strategy for disability policy

In June 2011, the Government adopted a five-year strategy for disability policy. It builds further on the 10-year action plan that applied in 2000-2010. The strategy is based, in part, on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which Sweden has acceded. More about the content of the strategy to the right under Download, Strategy for Disability Policy.

The Discrimination Act

One fundamental perspective in efforts to promote human rights is the fight against discrimination in society. The new Discrimination Act and the establishment of the Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen) as of 1 January 2009 are the result of efforts to make the fight against discrimination more effective.

Support and service based on individual needs

To enable all people with disabilities to shape their own life, general measures need to be complemented with customised support and service.

Support in the form of personal assistants, personal representatives for people with mental disabilities, car allowances, assistive technology or sign language interpreters is intended to make it possible for people with disabilities to live an independent and active life.

The Social Services Act and the Act concerning Support and Service for Persons with Certain Functional Impairments provide guidance

The responsibility for individual support and service for people with disabilities lies primarily with the municipalities and county councils. This applies to measures under both the Social Services Act and the Act concerning Support and Service for Persons with Certain Functional Impairments.

The state provides financial grants to the municipalities' operations, and also in some cases to the county councils. One example of a measure under the Social Services Act is a meaningful occupation.

The Act concerning Support and Service for Persons with Certain Functional Impairments contains provisions on measures for special support and service for people with disabilities. There are ten measures.

The Assistance Compensation Act

The Assistance Compensation Act and the Assistance Compensation Ordinance contain rules on compensation to certain disabled people for the costs of personal assistance (assistance compensation).

Many actors involved

Ministry of Health and Social Affairs

Disability policy is cross-sectoral and the joint responsibility of all sectors of society. The Government's policy is coordinated at the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs.

The Swedish Agency for Disability Policy Coordination (Handisam)

The Swedish Agency for Disability Policy Coordination (Handisam) coordinates work on implementing and following up disability policy, while policy is actually implemented by agencies in most sectors of society.

National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen)

The National Board of Health and Welfare is responsible for all supervision and granting of permits under the Social Services Act and the Act concerning Support and Service for Persons with Certain Functional Impairments.

The National Board of Health and Welfare is also responsible for standardisation and knowledge about support and service for people with disabilities.

Swedish Institute of Assistive Technology (Hjälpmedelsinstitutet, HI)

The Swedish Institute of Assistive Technology is a national resource centre in the field of assistive technology and accessibility for people with disabilities. It is run by central government and the stakeholder organisation the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (Sveriges Kommuner och Landsting).

The Disability Delegation (Handikappdelegationen)

The Disability Delegation is a forum for discussion and mutual information between the Government and disability organisations concerning issues that are of particular interest to people with disabilities. Minister for Children and the Elderly Maria Larsson is chair of the Delegation.

Disability organisations

The disability organisations fulfil a key function among the popular movements in Sweden by following and reporting on the living conditions of people with disabilities.

These organisations also make a contribution through their interest-based work on achieving the political objectives of disability policy. There are two cooperation organisations within the disability movement: the Swedish Disability Federation and Equally Unique, the Swedish Federation Human Rights for Persons with Disabilities.

Relevant rules and documents

A strategy for the implementation of disability policy, 2011-2016, memorandum

Discrimination Act (2008:567)

Social Services Act (2001:453)

Act concerning Support and Service for Persons with Certain Functional Impairments (1993:387)

Assistance Compensation Act (1993:389)