Study circles supporting persons with intellectual disabilities in political processes
- My choice/My election
- SV Study Association Vuxenskolan
- Country of Implementation
- Northern Europe
- Start Year
- First published
“I know have the tools to form my OWN opinion. So I felt very confident when election day came!” Anna Ringström, 26, Participant, My Choice/My Election programme
The Studieforbundet Vuxenskolan (SV), a nationwide Swedish NGO focused on adult education, has developed the My Choice/My Election programme, which makes political processes accessible for people with intellectual disabilities. SV develops easy-language material on Swedish politics to ensure that information is accurately represented. Moreover, SV creates a process for voters with disabilities to address questions to national party leaders on issues that matter to them. In 2022 more than 80 municipalities could be reached by My Choice/My Elections.
Very often it can be difficult for persons with intellectual disabilities to learn about politics in an easy-to-understand and objective way.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
SV uses a so-called ‘study circle’ as an educational method, which combines study material in easy language, thus facilitating political discussions. The material covers several topics, such as (1) what democracy is; (2) how national, regional, and local politics work; and (3) how to vote. The study circle is directed by a circle leader, who is trained by SV on adult education and who guides participants to form their own political opinions using easy-to-read news and information provided by political parties. Close to election day participants have a discussion with politicians, who are also trained by SV in easy language. These discussions are broadcasted over the Internet so that other persons with disabilities can listen in. In 2022, SV introduced digital technology to support learning – such as a game where users match politicians to their party – and to enable study circles to address questions directly to politicians on Facebook. When SV launched My Choice/My Election in 2014 there were 350 study circle participants. This number grew to 500 in 2018 and 950 in 2022.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
The 2022 budget for My Choice/My Election is approximately €250,000. The programme is financed by the National Agency for Youth and Civil Society, SV itself, and with funds from municipalities. In the future, SV plans to recruit more study circle participants through new forms of outreach, such as workshops and showrooms. The NGO also aims to adapt My Choice/My Election to new groups, including people who are new to the Swedish language. The model has already inspired other organizations in Australia, Finland, and Israel because the general outline of the study material, the principles, and the teaching can easily be replicated.