The Swedish mission was carried out on November 7 – 8, 2011 in both Stockholm and Sundsvall. Jamie Bolling, ENIL Executive Director planned the mission for the San Sebastian Cluster of Assistive Solutions. It was one of the first activities led by the Cluster launched in January 2011 by the county council of San Sebastian through the Department of Economical Development. The Cluster consists of specialized agents of the sector including Grupo ICAVI as technical adviser, with Laida San Sebastian in the lead. Other partners are for example companies for assistive technology (AT), personal assistance and supported employment, as well as research centers.
The purpose of the mission was to contribute to the possible economical and employment growth of the region of San Sebastian by promoting the AT sector particularly through innovation, internationalization and through the introduction of new products and services. Interest in supported employment and Independent Living was also expressed. For this purpose, a visit to Sweden was decided upon, being one of the most developed countries in the field of AT and in disability services.
The start of the mission on the 7th of November took place at the Association of JAG.Kerstin Sellin, the ENIL coordinator for the Northern Regional team and a JAG member Sandro explained JAG’s activity in promoting Independent Living through personal assistance. The Swedish Institute of Assistive Technology was presented by the SIAT international secretary Anna Lindström, which served as background information on how Sweden works through the cooperation of the government and the association of regions and municipalities (SALAR) in the AT field.
MISA, through Lennart Jönsson, presented its activities to obtain employment integration through coaching and supported employment. Per Stjärnehag presented BEAD and talked about the importance of active technical equipment allowing people to participate in sports, through, for example, the BEAD and the ski cart. Jamie Bolling presented activities of STIL and ENIL, also actors within the Independent Living movement.
Sodexho, one of the Stockholm centers for technical aids was visited to understand how the technical equipment service functions in Sweden. Birgitte Wiik was the informer and guide of the large center in Hallonbergen in Stockholm.
On the 8th, the group flew to Sundsvall where they visited Samhall in Birsta and met Marie Louise Lundqvist to learn of the Swedish government activities for supported employment. A visit to Permobil showed how Sweden became a major international actor in the distribution of powered wheelchairs. Sam Madsen, the Export Sales Manager
of Permobil accentuated the necessity of good design for comfort, good health of the user and the international success of the company. County Counselor Sverker Ågren described the work of the County Council of Västernorrland in regard to people with disabilities.
Through the evaluation, it was found that the visiting group found it beneficial to see the different Swedish activities and to learn about different solutions. There was an affirmation of the social model approach and inspiration in seeing how the individualization of support and services is managed in Sweden. An interest was shown to find out why Sweden is so good in what it does in the field of AT, as it was considered not to be the case of just having funding, but something to do with the culture. The group left having gotten to know one another much better and was looking forward to finding ways of working together and developing further contacts with Sweden.
November 14, 2011
All photos taken by Dr. Raúl Reyero -IKERLAN-IK4