Hedenmark, entrepreneur and role model

Entrepreneur Veronica Hedenmark is vocal about disability rights. ‘Accessibility should be a matter of course’, she says. ‘What’s necessary for some is good for all.’

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Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

Good for all

Veronica uses an electric wheelchair and considers it a human right to be able to get about in town, to access restaurants and to travel by public transport instead of having to use special transport services for the disabled.

‘For me, accessibility should be a matter of course’, she says. ‘What’s necessary for some is good for all.’

Veronica is part-owner of a personal assistance firm with offices at several places around Sweden. She travels by rail several days a week – but not without problems. Often, the wheelchair lifts have been turned off, which has made it harder for her to go by train. This is discrimination, she says.

Sweden frequently boasts of having made considerable progress on the disability front, ‘but that’s easy to say for those who don’t have a disability themselves’, notes Veronica.
Personally, she finds it mentally stressful to have a physical disability. There are always numerous practical details to consider.

‘If I’m at a café and want to order something to drink, I first have to know where the toilet is, whether it’s locked and in that case who has the key, whether I can access the toilet and whether it works’, she says.

‘In such a situation, I may just decide that drinking something is pointless, so I end up sitting there with a dry bun.’

The right to take part

Veronica is an ambassador for women in business, has received an award for leadership from the Swedish king, and lectures on leadership and diversity. The EU has promoted her as a role model for young entrepreneurs.

But Veronica still finds that she needs to educate people about her situation. At conferences, for instance, she always checks that there is a ramp up to the platform so that she doesn’t have to sit below it, on the floor.

‘The accessibility issue is bigger than me as a person’, she says. ‘It’s about people’s right to take part.’

Last updated: 4 January 2016

Erika Wermeling

Erika Wermeling

Erika Wermeling is a journalist who enjoys writing about people with disabilities. Formerly a school reporter, she now works on a freelance basis.