Disability awareness arena in Sweden: voices of learning toward community facilities, universal design and disability perspective

Jörgen Lundälv (Department of Social Work, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Henrik Ehrlington (Department of Property Management Administration, Housing Department, City of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Andreas Johansen (Department of Property Management Administration, Housing Department, City of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden)

Facilities

ISSN: 0263-2772

Publication date: 12 August 2020

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to describe knowledge, awareness and experience of different employees in a Swedish municipality (City of Gothenburg) concerning the disability perspective, accessibility and universal design in practice.

Design/methodology/approach

This study is based on an online survey. A total of 119 different employees responded to the survey. The data was analyzed from a mixed-method approach, using descriptive statistics and textual analysis. The study also included personal interviews with 19 employees in the City of Gothenburg.

Findings

A total of 521 employees in the City of Gothenburg participated in disability awareness exercises (DAE) at the Disability Awareness Arena to gain greater knowledge and insight on disability perspectives in different environments and services. Of these, 119 people representing different professions in soft and hard services and companies participated in the survey; and 19 people participated in personal interviews. The study showed that a vast majority of them were very satisfied and they have developed and practiced their new knowledge and attitude toward disability and accessibility.

Research limitations/implications

One limitation in this study is that it has investigated the experiences and effects of the DAE 6–12 months after its implementation. Therefore, it is not possible to analyze long-term effects that the DAE can have in practice.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, no prior study of these issues has been conducted in Sweden. This study is deemed to have significant social benefit because of the steadily increasing demand for disability simulations, awareness of disability perspective and accessibility in municipality settings. No other study has addressed the importance of the DAE in these perspectives. DAE is defined in this article as a unique concept for promoting the usage of the disability perspective in the everyday workplace.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank the participants (employees) for participating and sharing their knowledge, insights and experiences of the DAE in Gothenburg during 2016-2018 and thank you to Sofie Utter for the photos.

Citation

Lundälv, J., Ehrlington, H. and Johansen, A. (2020), "Disability awareness arena in Sweden: voices of learning toward community facilities, universal design and disability perspective", Facilities, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/F-12-2019-0135

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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