There’s hope for the future
These are troubled times. Unfortunately, the media seems only to be able to cope with one big question at a time, so when the debates circle around EU migrants, terrorist threats, war and refugees, persons with disabilities fall off the radar.
It would be intellectually dishonest to compare misfortune with misery. But there is a tendency in society to forget issues that are not at the top of the agenda. And persons with disabilities are rarely in the top stories. Most of us recognize that there is a limited amount of resources around, so when many groups fight over the same pennies, someone will have to prioritize. This is when it becomes scary for real.
Sweden is a rich country, the Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson says that personal assistance services is an area where Sweden need to save money to cope with increased costs for refugees coming to Sweden. No journalist points out that personal assistance means the right to a dignified life - something we should be proud of offering and something I definitely think it's worth fighting to keep.
Regardless of the economic situation, the proportion of persons with disabilities outside the labor market is usually constant (high). Few economists present what society gains when persons with disabilities develop from being beneficiaries to become taxpayers. Instead, many focus on the cost of increased accessibility, but it is rather to be seen as an investment for the future. Even if one disregards what it means for each individual concerned.
There is hope
At the same time, there is some fantastic development going on in the technical arena. Smart solutions, new innovations and interesting research findings make everyday exciting and positive. More and more private companies, not only public authorities, are becoming aware of accessibility. Sweden has for the first time a major authority who says publicly they want to be the most accessible in public sector.
A lot of things are happening when it comes to legislation, policy work and standardization in many parts of the world. We notice it not least in our international assignments. It feels as if much of what we have been fighting for during many years is slowly becoming a reality.
To all of you who manage to keep more than one thought active at the same time and realize that we can not stop caring about persons with disabilities when the world is on fire: Thank you for helping us to create a better world for all of us humans with functional variations. It will continue to be needed.