• Rights

Studieförbundet Vuxenskolan (SV): Mitt val

SV wins the Innovation Awards 2023 for a practice that makes politics more accessible for people with disabilities.

Name of practice: Mitt val

Organisation: : Studieförbundet Vuxenskolan (SV)

Country: Sweden

Funding: : In 2022, the National Agency for Youth and Civil Society, which is the agency that handles the government's democracy funding, initially funded the new digital tools with around SEK 1 million (around €90,000). It also supported the implementation and administration of the project during the election year with SEK 1 million (around €90,000). SVs' own national funds contributed SEK 1.6 million.

Description of the Organisation: Studieförbundet Vuxenskolan is an NGO specialising in non-formal popular adult education (folkbildning), which receives national, regional, and municipal support every year. The organisation has activities in each of Sweden's 290 municipalities, where people can learn together and/or access the arts and cultures of their choice. It offers creative meeting places in the form of conferences, study circles and various cultural arrangements. There are ten NGOs of this kind in Sweden, and Studieförbundet Vuxenskolan is the largest in the field of learning and the arts for/with people with disabilities, with traditions going back more than 50 years, in cooperation with disabled people's organisations. 

Description of Practice: The aim of this practice is to make politics more accessible. It works through study circles where people with intellectual disabilities learn how Swedish and European democracy works and prepare to take part in the next elections. They learn not only how to vote, but also how to think about voting.

The objectives underlying the development of this practice were:

  1. To bridge the democratic gap between people with intellectual disabilities and the political levels that interfere with/support most aspects of their lives.
  2. Increase voter turnout among people with intellectual disabilities (previous research indicates a turnout rate of 20-43%).
  3. Put people with intellectual disabilities in touch with their political leaders and integrate them into society.

Impact and Sustainability: 

The target group is adults with an intellectual disability who want support to be able to vote and understand politics. We are committed to participation in the education and personal adaptation of participants according to their needs. We are a grassroots movement, providing education and lifelong learning for all, regardless of disability, and the needs of participants are always at the centre of our focus, whatever the disability. When it comes to engaging with the community, the practice ensures that participants build relationships with the politicians who run the society of which they are a part.

During the last elections (2022), 922 people took part in study circles and 1605 in easy-to-understand political discussions, in a total of 85 municipalities. Voter turnout was 85% (Sweden 84%). One of the key elements of the study circle is the way in which policy issues are addressed. When participants understand that municipalities run schools and regions run hospitals, they begin to wonder what the different parties think about schools and healthcare. Our study circle facilitators don't answer these questions. Instead, they help participants get their answers from politicians and political parties, or from easy-to-read editorial sources, which allows us to be neutral while promoting political interest.

Scalability & transferability: 

The results are impressive, with an 85% participation rate, and all the participating politicians love it. This is not only because it is fundamentally democratic, but also because, thanks to the interaction, they learn what these people need and want in politics. The project is a key national identity for SV, and it is recognised by the political parties.

For SV, the key to their success is that they do not just teach people how to vote. They invite them to find out what we are voting on, without filters or interference. Politics itself becomes accessible. Another key success factor is their involvement of politicians. Relationships are forged, changes proposed, understanding achieved.

Contact Information: Kjell Stjernholm