Nordic youth disability organisations ready to co-operate in a more active way
27 okt 2023
Young people with disabilities have many similar challenges in the Nordic region. There is also a strong will to co-operate towards more accessibility, mobility and inclusion. The first Nordic Youth Disability Summit was held in Copenhagen in October 2023.
The participants in the Nordic Youth Disability Summit are leaders and representatives from Nordic youth disability organisations. They met in person in Copenhagen to discuss problems and challenges, to network, and to give recommendations from a youth perspective on a Nordic level on several topics.
Pay for your own assistant or stay home
Travelling or moving to another Nordic country is more challenging for a person with disability. The Summit discussed mobility both in terms of travelling around the Nordic region and moving to another Nordic country as an exchange student.
Accessibility is a prerequisite for being mobile.
– It is hard to get information about accessibility. If a person with disability wants to travel, it’s hard to find out beforehand if the train will be accessible, if we will see information on screens at the train station or if it will only be called out in loudspeakers, and so on, says Cecilia Ingves from SAMS Disability cooperation federation in Finland (Samarbetsförbundet kring funktionshinder).
Plans to study abroad as an exchange student can in some cases be impossible to go through with because of several different barriers. Bureaucracy is almost always one of them.
The right to bring your aid or assistant when travelling or moving to study is often tied to your home region or municipality. In general, all the Nordic countries have restrictions concerning funding or the rights to bring assistants to another country. This makes exchange studies or longer trips impossible because the person with disability must pay for an assistant themselves. In some regions you are not allowed to bring an assistant to another country for more than a month (or another set period of time).
The participants call for a platform where information about accessibility would be gathered.
– Maybe a system with smiley symbols, like when food hygiene is supervised? Good accessibility would be awarded a happy smiley, suggest some of the participants.
The statement from the Nordic Youth Disability Summit will be given to the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Freedom of Movement Council.
Important to hear youth voices in the Nordic cooperation
The participants in the Nordic Youth Disability Summit all agree that the youth co-operation is needed. In their opinion, the ways of working together must be strengthened, and there is a wish to find more permanent forms. A suggested solution was to include the youth representatives in the Council of Nordic Cooperation on Disability, to get continuity and to ensure that the youth organisations get access to information.
– It is important that each Nordic country has its own youth representative because the countries are different. Choosing one or a few representatives could mean that the perspective from another country could be left out, says Cornelia Flood from Youth with Disabilities Sweden (Nätverket Unga för Tillgänglighet).
We have energy, we are creative, and we are prepared to fight for our future
There is a clear motivation among the organisations to collaborate to strengthen the youth perspective.
– We have energy, we are creative, and we are prepared to fight for our future. We have important perspectives that can help in pushing forward towards positive changes, says Ingrid Thunem from the Norwegian Association of Youth with Disabilities (Unge Funksjonshemmede).
A foundation for future co-operation
The first Nordic Youth Disability Summit resulted in several statements about current issues regarding disability policy. These include recommendations for a more inclusive and accessible labour market, and on how student councils can be more inclusive.
The Summit was also an important first step in gathering the youth organisations, to create connections between them and to lay a foundation for upcoming co-operation.
The Nordic Youth Disability Summit is a meeting between policy and activity areas in the Nordic Council of Ministers and organisations for young people with disabilities. The representatives all have expert competence from their youth interest organizations. According to the Programme for Nordic Co-operation on Disability 2023–2027, annual meetings will be held during the program period. This means that during the program period, experts from youth organisations throughout the Nordic region will attend one of the two annual meetings of the Council of Nordic Co-operation on Disability.
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