According to UNICEF, Sweden is the 5th best country for raising a child. Sweden has a well developed health care system, so if a family has a disabled child it’s worth considering to live there. But before making any decisions one should go through all the detailed information carefully.
Sweden is divided into 20 counties which are governed by politicians and are regulated by the agreement between the county council and the municipality. All counties follow major system of administration, only they have their own rules and regulations as well. Consequently, it has a difference where exactly in Sweden an individual lives, since the rules and regulations each county has, determines the general availability of supporting resources hearing impaired receive. Which county is the best choice? Although there is no written evidence, based on the interviews performed during the research, Stockholm appeared to be the first on the list.
On the other hand, Örebro is considered to have the largest population of hearing impaired individuals in Sweden. According to Swedish Parliament one fourth of the Swedish deaf population lives in Örebro. They say, if a person suffers from hearing deficit it is better to live in Örebro since there are many opportunities for hearing-impaired there.
So when they say Örebro is the best option for hearing impaired individuals the question is: for what kind of individuals? What kind of life? What types of hearing impairment? Yes, Örebro is the best option for deaf or hard of hearing individuals who decide to live among the people with the same lifestyle, who communicate mostly with sign language. But, not everyone is satisfied with that kind of communication only. There are number of hearing impaired individuals that challenge themselves and strive for greater success, even though they will always have hearing impairment sometimes the willpower is stronger than just a fact. For achieving an inspirational success they need to be able to speak and auditory verbal therapy (AVT) is one of the the best solutions for developing spoken language. In Sweden there are three authorised AVT specialists and according to Barnplantorna all of them work at Karolisnka Insitutet in Stockholm. So for those individuals who wish to develop spoken language Örebro does not really offer much, at least they don’t offer the major – auditory verbal therapy.
Despite the pronounced hearing-impaired population of Örebro few years ago Swedish Parliament published a report on the lack of interpreters in Örebro and in 2010 Barnplantorna published a report on the lack of finances provided for each hearing impaired student at special schools, which are mostly located in Örebro.
George Akin, a parent of a hearing impaired child says they had lived in Stockholm for a year and moved to Örebro two years ago. He described every detail and the difference Stockholm and Örebro have between availability of resources. His son is going to start the school this year and they’re going to move back to Stockholm. When asked about the reason of moving to Stockholm, ”it’s my sons hearing impairment, I want to make sure he receives the best possible support”, George akin answered. According to him additional support for hearing impaired is out of significance. He draw a parallel between the availability of resources in Stockholm and Örebro and emphasized some examples. George said that providence of hearing aids in Stockholm was prompt but not in Örebro. Meetings with speech therapist were arranged once a week in Stockholm, whearas it was 5 to 6 times during two years in Örebro. Speacial teacher that visits a preschool with a purpose of providing more advanced tips and advices to teachers, used to visit a preschool regularly once a month in Stockholm, but twice a year in Örebro. Audiometric hearing tests were made once a month in Stockholm, but twice a year in Örebro. And most importantly, Stockholms county could afford hiring an additional teacher for a child, who would be responsible for reading and talking to a child as much as possible for enhancing his hearing and speech development, which was out of cinsideration in Örebros county.
There is no clear reasoning behind the disparity between Örebro and Stockholm but the fact is that Örebro only has access to a portion of the resources and support compared to those in Stockholm. Still, even though most of the deaf schools in Sweden are located in Örebro, the question about difference of resources between Stockholm and Örebro remains unanswered.
As any other impairment, hearing loss requires number of support and treatment. But for easing communication and social interaction, government usually provides extra resources of support. It was impossible to meet Örebro county’s representative, but for understanding at least the portion of resources Örebros county provides, below is the audio interview with Ylva Olofsson, a representative of Karlskogas municipality, Örebros county.
Although Ylva did not have an information on the providence of all the addiotional resources, she gave us a brief idea on how the educational support for disabled works in Karlskoga.