Current best practices

AuthorLappalainen, Paul
1. Civil society cooperation concerning bringing a focus to discrimination by schools and
the National Agency for Education against children with dyslexia - raising awareness
through enforcement
Various NGOs joined together in 2018 to bring several lawsuits against local authorities
and a claim against the national Government concerning discrimination against children
with dyslexia.
Certain national tests are given annually in schools around the country. Children with
dyslexia throughout the school year are allowed to use certain assistance devices to help
them read. However, when taking the national tests, they are not allowed to use the
devices. The schools, run by local authorities, assert that they do this due to the
instructions issued by the National Agency for Education.
The NGO known as the Dyslexia Association has pointed out the problem for many years.
A local anti-discrimination bureau had some complaints about the issue but was uncertain
about how to go forward. This led to contacts with a disability anti-discrimination NGO
known as Law as a tool for social change (MLSV) and Talerättsfonden (a relatively new
fund set up to help individuals bring strategic cases).
These organisations cooperated in various ways to prepare and file several lawsuits around
the country on the same day in August 2018, as well as filing a claim against the national
Government with the Chancellor of Justice due to the actions of the National Agency for
Education. The basic idea is that local government bodies are liable for the potentially
discriminatory actions of schools, while the liability of the national Government for
discriminatory rules requiring discrimination by schools is somewhat unclear. The Agency
for Education asserts that its actions do not fall within the framework of the Discrimination
Act, as the agency is not an education provider within the meaning of the act.
The press conference held the same day led to broad media coverage, both on TV and in
the newspapers. This means that there has been substantial impact in the form of publicity
and awareness raising, even though no trials have yet been held.295
These cases are in part related to the empowerment work carried out within the
frameworks of the ‘Law as a tool for social change’ project and the ‘From talk to action’
project concerning disability, equality and non-discrimination that were funded by the
National Inheritance Fund.296 They focused on various types of awareness raising,
particularly encouraging the targets of discrimination to realise that, if they want the
Discrimination Act to be applied in practice, they have to be part of the process. This means
a willingness to actually take cases to court a willingness to test the law. The dyslexia
cases are a practical example of how civil society can move in this direction, potentially
even providing a healthy ‘competition’ or complement to the Equality Ombudsman and the
unions. This is the type of action that, in the long run, the author expects will help to
transform law in theory to law in action.
295 Dagens Nyheter (2018) ‘Barn med dyslexi nekas hjälpmedel nu sẗms Skolverket och tre kommuner’
(Children with dyslexia denied assistance devices now the Schools Agency and three local governments
are sued) 1/9/2018, available at:
nu-stams-skolverket-och-tre-kommuner/. TV4 (2018), ‘Nekades dyslexistöd vid prov - kommuner sẗms’
(Denied dyslexia assistance devices during exams local governments sued), 31/8/2018,öd-vid-prov-kommuner-stäms-11350574. Swedish
TV (2018), ‘Dyslexiförbundet: Skolverket diskriminerar elever med dyslexi’, (Dyslexia NGO: the Schools
Agency discriminates against pupils with dyslexia) 31/8/2018 at
296 Lagen som verktyg (‘Law as a tool for social change’) at:; Från snack till
verkstad (‘From talk to action’) at:

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