An accessible work environment

Accessibility in a broader perspective means accessibility and usability for persons with different types of disability when it comes to information, products, services and environments. In this is included everything that makes possible participation and equality for persons with disabilities.

In our work environment management, accessibility is about minimising obstacles in the work environment so that everyone can work in the best way. The better the work environment functions for all, the better it functions also for those who have some form of disability. Furthermore, the need for individual adaptations is reduced. And conversely, that which is necessary for some – for example help in prioritising working tasks, the possibility to work undisturbed, good lighting and user-friendly technology – is often good for everyone.

In accessible environment is included physical, physiological, cognitive and social work relationships. The different aspects of the work environment need to interplay for there to be prerequisites to do a good job.

Disability and activity limitations

If a person has lower functional ability it is called an activity limitation, but it is not always that the ability to work is lowered. The term is somewhat misleading because it just emphasises the functional limitation and can risk attention not being paid to the resources. So in practice, activity limitations often mean an inequality in the person’s different abilities.

A disability can be congenital, or it can have occurred later in life as a result of an accident or illness. A number of disabilities are permanent. It can, for example, be about chronic pain, impaired hearing, or paralysis. A number are, on the other hand, often temporary, such as broken bones, sleep disorders, crisis due to illness, or a death in the family.

We can state that our functional ability varies during our working life and that many of us are affected by some form of activity limitation.

Disability describes the limitation a functional impairment entails for a person in relation to the surroundings. Disability is, in other words, impediments that need to be removed in the work environment so that persons with activity limitations can also function at work.

Working for accessibility pays off

Work with accessibility improves quality in the work environment, partly through employees’ resources being taken care of, and partly through us having a humane working climate where everyone’s differences are an asset. When everyone has a place, both the staff and the work can be developed.

A selection of short facts about disabilities

Just over 9.7 million people live in Sweden. Those who are 16 years of age and over are counted as part of the adult population of just under 8 million. Almost 7.2 million are of working age, 15 – 74 years.

  • Psychological ill health is the most common cause of sick listing today. Nearly 4 of 10 persons state psychological ill health as the cause of their sick listing.
  • About 1.9 million of the adult population have reading difficulties.
  • About 1.8 million of the adult population have some form of asthma or allergy.
  • Approximately 1.5 million of the adult population have stomach and bowel problems.
  • Approximately 1.3 million of the adult population have reduced mobility in arms or hands.
  • Just over 1.2 million persons of working age state that they live with severe pain.
  • There are 780 000 persons of working age with some form of rheumatism.
  • Approximately 700 000 persons in working age have a hearing impairment.
  • Approximately 700 000 persons in working age have a permanent cognitive disability.
  • Just over 50 per cent of all in working age are calculated to, at some point in working life, have a temporary disability.

Sources: Statistics Sweden, The Swedish Social Insurance Agency, The National Board of Health and Welfare, AFA Insurance, The Public Health Agency of Sweden, disability organisations, The Swedish National Association Attention (2013), Can companies afford to not prevent psychological ill health?, The Swedish Agency for Participation (2014), What is the situation in 2014?. The Swedish Work Environment Authority’s knowledge compilation (2014), ’The brain friendly workplace’. 

Last updated 2015-09-07