UD Journey in Norway

Picture of the front cover of the Norwegian Action PlanNorway has been leading the pack on UD since the mid nineties. Critical to success was turning the paradigm around to focus on universally designed polices rather than the designs themselves.This made all government officials responsible for access and inclusion. Olav Rand Bringa was the author of the early reports and papers and now he joins with Einar Lund to provide a review of Norway’s progress: From Visions to Practical Policy: The Universal Design Journey in Norway. What did we learn? What did we gain? What now?  Similarly to Singapore, Norway has used Universal Design as a basic tool for inclusion – moving beyond basic accessibility. Also of interest is the Nordic Charter for Universal Design initiated in 2011.

Abstract: The national policy in Norway have since the last part of the 1990s been organized in programs that erected actions including national authorities, municipalities, regional authorities and private enterprises. What have we gained by our national activities to mainstream inclusive and accessibility policy for persons with reduced capability through the principles of Universal Design? Have we made society accessible to everyone and prevented discrimination. Are the results visible? We can measure results on several sectors, inter alia public buildings, outdoor areas, central communication hubs, public transport and the occurrence plans for Universal Design in municipalities and regions. Through several programs and action plans the Norwegian government has developed a sectoral approach for including persons with disabilities in the society. The majority of ministries have participated in these plans. Local initiatives, local councils for disabled people, and later on municipalities and county administrations were supported by national authorities as complements to regulations and laws. In addition, guidelines and assisting funds were used. The main objective was to redefine the national policy, using better defined national goals and introducing Universal Design to replace accessibility as the basic tool. The mainstreaming of the accessibility policy, where Universal Design was included in relevant sectors and activities, was a crucial part of the strategy. The national policy was organized in programs that erected actions focusing on how to reach, inspire and include municipalities and regional authorities in their own struggle for Universal Design. Through the mainstream approach ministries have both earmarked economic transfers to their own agencies and used steering documents guide to these agencies how to implement Universal Design in their advisory services, in practicing laws and regulations and in their own planning and building activities.