Personal assistance services and other public measures for people with disabilities in the work environment and in higher education in Norway
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A major goal for the Norwegian welfare policy is to design services and benefits in a way that stimulates inclusion and participation in working life. Since 2006, labour and welfare services are collected under a common administration (the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration). The report gives an account of and discusses public measures for including people with disabilities in working life in Norway. Experiences with “Functional assistance”, where usercontrolled personal assistance (UPA) is connected directly to working life is presented and discussed more in detail. Because higher education appears to be a main entrance for the transition into working life, the report further presents and discusses the measures for people with disabilities in higher education. Even if there are many different measures connected to both the labour market and the educational sector, the data show that the existing measures are incomplete. The goal to include people with disabilities in working life has had limited success, and students with disabilities still encounter significant barriers in educational institutions. Many of the measures in both labour and educational areas in Norway are provided as grants to the employer or educational institution with the aim of allowing different kinds of facilitations for people with disabilities. The personal assistance model thus far has had a rather modest scope in the Norwegian labour and educational system, as it is essentially connected to the users’ home and their leisure time. In many ways, it is a paradox that the personal assistance model has such a modest scope, because evaluation of the functional assistance arrangement clearly concludes that it increases participation of people with disabilities in work. The report concludes that an extension of the functional assistance arrangement and a closer connection between the arrangement and the UPA are solutions that could improve the situation for people with disabilities in relation to both work and higher education.