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Kantar in conversation with Samhall

We recently had an opportunity to engage in conversation with Erik Hedin, Digital Accessibility specialist at Samhall.

Samhall is the largest employer in Sweden, owned by the Swedish state, with a mission to create enriching jobs for people with disabilities. The goal is for 1500 employees to leave Samhall each year to go and work for other employers. They train their staff and match them to the right tasks in areas such as cleaning, care, logistics and manufacturing. By utilising the skills and abilities of all their employees, they are helping to build a more sustainable and inclusive society.

You are a specialist in Digital Accessibility at Samhall – what does it mean and what is your background?
Samhall is now making a major investment in employee development for our more than 20,000 employees with disabilities. My role involves supporting managers and employees with knowledge and insights into both requirements and opportunities in the field of digital accessibility. This is important because society as a whole and the labour market are becoming increasingly digital.

My background is that I have led the work of developing the streaming service SVT Play and the accessibility services that SVT uses online. Among other things, I have been involved in winning the TV award Kristallen for the accessibility service Clearer Speech and Prix Europa for a digital language support. Last year, also came first on the Inclusion Barometer, so I know that it IS possible to make things accessible. I have a so-called CPACC certification in digital accessibility, issued by IAAP (International Association for Accessibility Professionals).

What do you do at Samhall in terms of digital accessibility? What are you most proud of so far? Where do you see your road ahead?
I have started with some low-hanging fruits, to improve the digital services that Samhall offers to its employees. Together with Kantar, Begripsam and several colleagues, we have among other things made Samhall's annual employee survey much more accessible. I recently received a very positive confirmation of this from a deaf employee who participated in a usage test.

We have an intensive digital journey ahead of us at Samhall, first of all to provide our employees with basic digital services such as connectivity, digital work identity and devices, but also in areas relating to digital information, interaction and training.

Right now, I'm working on building Samhall's first employee portal, in close collaboration with Axess Lab, Begripsam and people in the target group. One of the goals is to make employees more independent which will support and relieve the organization. In the long term, I am convinced that Samhall's unique talent can translate into important insights for digital needs and opportunities outside of Samhall as well, just as we have been able to do in the collaboration with Kantar. Quite simply, a new professional role and a service we can offer to clients.

Technology is constantly evolving – how do you keep up to date with new solutions and features?
My single best tip is the Facebook group “Tillgänglighetstruppen” (Accessibility Troop) where lots of knowledgeable, committed and helpful people constantly contribute with advice and inspiration, completely free and open. Another valuable asset I have access to is Samhall's employees, who often give me important insights and tips, both about digital needs and solutions. For example, a blind colleague showed me the free apps Seeing AI and Be My Eyes that help him in his everyday life! Just download and try it out.

In collaboration with us at Kantar, you have developed your employee survey and we have also developed! We have learned a lot about improved and simplified instructions, texts, contrasts and technical solutions. What have you learned?
I myself have learned a lot about research methods and realized the enormous science behind it. I have also become increasingly convinced of how important it is that everyone in the target group has the opportunity to respond, if you are to be able to draw the right conclusions. "Som man frågar får man svar" – asking the right question gets you the right answer, as the saying goes, and I hope that the improvements we have achieved of the survey itself is a contribution to the large increase in positive responses that we see from employees in this year's survey.

What do you think is important to keep in mind when surveying employees, or customers for that matter?
To make it as easy as possible to answer. This applies to both technology and content. Usability testing early! It's easy to do simple things but it can be difficult AND expensive to make things simple, if you don't do it from the beginning.

There are many who are good at accessibility. Look into their support if you don't know how to conduct user tests and set requirements for accessibility yourself. Begripsam, Axess Lab and UseIT are some examples.

If you make it work for people with different impairments or disabilities, whether it's a temporary or permanent solution, it will be easy for everyone. Incorrect decision data can cost you dearly, while the right data can be crucial for a successful outcome!

In June 2025, the new Digital Accessibility Act will enter into force. You've already done a lot, but what are your three best pieces of advice for other companies that haven't started yet? And where do you start?
1) Check requirements and standards. Here are two links in Swedish about the EU Accessibility Directive that will come into force for the private sector next year: and

But there are other laws, such as the Discrimination Act, and more important standards that you should be aware of because they offer so much experience and best practice:

One is called WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) and is the backbone of both the new Accessibility Directive AND the so-called DOS Act, which has been in force for the public sector for several years. WCAG mainly covers various physical impairments, i.e. vision, motor skills and hearing.

Two other important standards are the ISO standard for cognitive accessibility (ISO 21 801) and the ISO standard for Plain Language (ISO 244 95). Cognitive impairments are MUCH more common than physical ones.

2) If your company works with in-house development of digital services and products: Conduct user tests early, and as I said, preferably with people who have different types of disabilities. Everyone experiences different impairments several times a day, for example when they are stressed or tired. That's why it's extra smart to test with people who live with these challenges. They'll help you find flaws that you won't have to discover when it's all done. That's what Mercedes did when they tried out the Swedish moose test and totally flipped their nearly-ready car model back in 1997… It's no coincidence that almost all car manufacturers go to Arvidsjaur to test their new models in extreme winter conditions. If the cars can handle the Swedish winter, they can handle everything!

3) If your company procures the development of digital services and products: Specify accessibility requirements. According to the new legislation, it is not only suppliers but also procurers who can be convicted for lack of accessibility. But more importantly, you and your company can benefit from accessibility, and by setting the right requirements for your suppliers, you can also help them improve, together with you. Win-win! This is what we did at Samhall with Kantar.

To finish off, I have two more examples of how you can earn and save money on accessibility:

  1. The world's largest and most important search function Google is “deafblind”. If you spend a little time providing your online images with text descriptions, so-called alt texts, Google will boost your SEO (search engine optimization) for everyone. Plus, you can get loyal visually impaired customers. By the way: Feel free to google the proportion of visually impaired between Sweden, the EU and the world... It's not a small group. Some market-leading companies such as Apple have realized this a long time ago and made a lot of money on it.
  2. Sweden is getting more and more elderly people in the population and since the pandemic many pensioners now see what digital opportunities there are out there, with BankID (a secure digital identification solution), e-commerce and streaming services. Convenient when you're not super mobile but have a lot of time! But it must be safe and secure to use for this target group, i.e. customers with poor vision, hearing, motor skills and, not infrequently, cognitive challenges. Otherwise, they won't buy anything, at least not from you. And you can also be convicted under the new law with both hefty fines and, in the worst case, market bans as a result... When you consider that option, you quickly realize that it’s more fun to have satisfied customers, old and young, of all kinds!

Katarina Önell

Client Director

070-184 22 82

Mathias Axelsson

Client Director

070-184 21 76

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