Lars Lindberg – Sweden’s Disability Policy (Day In Washington Podcast #36)

Day in Washington Disability Policy PodcastEpisode Summary:  This week, DIW has a guest host, Lars Lindberg.  Lars is Deputy Director at the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs in Sweden.  He talks about a number of issues relating to Sweden’s Disability Policy including: 

1.  Disability Policy in Sweden 

2.  Employment Discrimination in Sweden versus the United States

3.  History of Sweden’s Disability Policy

4.  Disability Policy Today and in the Future (Including the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities – CRPD)

Lar’s discussion also includes a description of Sweden’s law that REQUIRES the provision of Personal Attendant Services for those who need them to allow for independent community-based living which is particularly pertinent considering this last week’s Kick-Off on Capitol Hill for the Community Choice Act.

(Note:  Unfortunately, I was using an analog tape recorder and the quality of Lars’ recording was poor.  If you cannot understand the audio, a narrated version of the original podcast is also provided.) 

Audio Files: 

Day in Washington #36 (Lars Lindberg – Sweden’s Disability Policy)

Day in Washington #36 (NARRATED VERION:  Lars Lindberg – Sweden’s Disability Policy)

Text File:  See Comments 

3 comments for “Lars Lindberg – Sweden’s Disability Policy (Day In Washington Podcast #36)

  1. admin
    March 28, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Day in Washington (Disability Policy Podcast #36)


    Hello and welcome to your Day In Washington Disability Policy Podcast. I'm your host, Day Al-Mohamed working to make sure you stay informed.

    This weeks episode is a special edition so is somewhat longer than my traditional 6 minute podcasts. The reason being that rather than me personally providing a discussion or analysis of policy and legislation, I have a guest host who will speak about their policy interest.

    I have to apologize if the audio is difficult to understand. Unfortunately, I had to use an analog tape recorder and the quality of the recording was poor. This narrated version of the podcast is to offer an alternative version if you had trouble understanding the audio of the original podcast.

    This week's host is Lars Lindberg from Sweden. Lars is Deputy Director at the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs in Sweden and works with Disability Policy Coordination in the Government Office. At the moment he is on leave of absence to work on a textbook about Swedish disability policy which is how I came to have the pleasure of meeting him and having him host this episode of Day In Washington.

    Lars has been involved in the Swedish disability movement for many years and led the work on the Swedish National Action Plan for Disability Policy which was endorsed by the Government and the Parliament in 2000. That year, he was appointed head of the Swedish Accessibility Centre, which is the national advisory body for accessibility issues and Universal Design for All. Basically, Lars is responsible for coordinating, supporting, advising and advancing all efforts to make Swedish society accessible.

    Lars Lindberg, I work in Sweden about disability issues. I am here on a study visit, mostly about the election campaign, but also to look into how disability issues are treated now in the United States and a comparison between our way of anticipating policy and yours.

    1:56 An Introduction to Swedish Disability Policy

    Sweden, I think that many Scandanavian in northern Europe we have quite a quite long tradition of a welfare system which means that you have a combination of a distribution of resources so usually it is quite easy to get support, like health care, personal assistance, education and that kind of thing.

    The way we have done so far is in Sweden is that we have a welfare policy where everybody must be included. We have free education, free health care and also free supports to stay at home with personal assistance. You don't need to move to a nursing home or like that. You can stay at home.

    On the other hand, we have been slower to implement anti-discrimination legislation in Sweden like in the United States.

    3:03 Part 2 Employment Discrimination in Sweden versus the United States

    We have legislation that covers employment, so if someone feels they are discriminated, they can sue the employer, but we have a system with an Ombudsman. So either the trade union or the ombudsman who does this part of the legal process on behalf of the person who feels discriminated. Then there can be negotiation. Most of the cases there is a settlement between the Ombudsman and the employer. So there are not many cases that come to the court.

    The legislation has not been so developed the legal cases compared to the United States.


    Disability policy in Sweden.You can say the roots of disability policy, for instance in employment started after the Second World War because of the lack of workforce. Many of the things that were developed as methods for people with disabilities come from that time of the Second World War.

    Then during during 60s there was more of a debate about integration and normalization. You had institutions, like in many other countries. That was a debate about why should people with disabilities live in institutions. This is not the normal way of life. Then there was a discussion of shutting down the institutions. The institutions were shut down in the 70s and 80s. People with developmental disabilities from institutions, today, they live like everybody else, either at home, or in a small group or in a school, together in an area where everybody else lives. So there are no institutions left, this is from this time.

    During the 70s there was also another discussion of disability policy in Sweden There were demonstrations and so on from the disability movements. There was also accessibility requirements too which would have elevators on houses and those kinds of things. Also there was a discussion about education in schools and so on.

    And then, during the 90s in 1994, there was legislation about personal assistance that was endorsed, that made it a right for people with severe disabilities who have personal assistants to have it 24 hours a day. This is quite huge and ambitious legislation.

    There should be accessibility in traffic systems and public accommodations by 2010. And also have requirements and assurities that this will be accessible.little bit similar to your (U.S.) legislation.


    Disability policy today, is much more globalized than before. You see the influence of other countries, other international documents and other countries legislation. Now most of the focus is on the Convention, the United Nations Convention (CRPD) and how it should be implemented in Sweden. Of course that is an expectation of the convention is very big.

    It will be very interesting to see how development will be when it comes to the
    UN Convention. I think that this kind of requires a lot of cooperation between ministers in different countries and also the disability movement to the discuss the convention and how it is implemented.

    This is a law that is unbelievable when you look at the convention, it has really come true so far. I mean, it usually takes much longer time to legislate a convention of this promise, imagination. But it took a couple of years and so many countries have supported it.

    So it would be a lot of work to find the best way to implement it and a measure for it. So I think that the national exchange of information and cooperation both among the governments and disability movements is more or less necessary to make it a success.



    This has been Day Al-Mohamed and guest host Lars Lindberg with your Day In Washington – Disability Policy Podcast, hoping that you stay well and stay informed. For more information about disability policy or to comment please visit: or call 206-888-6009.

  2. May 29, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    You are absolutely right. And in truth, it is more than comforting. People are happier, their mental health tends to be higher, it can be more cost efficient and can allow for greater interaction between generations in the community.

    I love the look of your website!

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