How does the Danish accessibility label certification work?
The Danish accessibility label is a national label in Denmark and in Iceland.
In Denmark since 2003 and in Iceland since 2010. It is run by a private
organization - God Adgang - Access Denmark - and is based on a set of criteria
developed by the Danish Standardization Institute in cooperation with The Danish Oganisations of People with Disability and representatives from the
companies/buildings involved. (f.ex. the ministry of culture was involved in
defining the criteria to museums a.o.) The criteria expresses the legislation
and accessibility recommondations. The label system is developed to fit best practice in both existing and new buildings.
criteria cover demands from 7 types of users. Wheelchairusers, hand, arm and
walking impaired, visual impaired, hearing impaired, asthma and allergy,
cognitive/mental needs, and people with reading difficulties. Important is that
a building or a place can be accessible to some people but maybe not to all.
The label is based on an expert audit made by an auditor from Access Denmark.
A very thorough registration is made covering criteria from all 7 types of
users. The data are used for two purposes:
- Information to the end user where fact sheets are generated with pictures
and detailed information on the accessibility.
- A feedback report to the company/building stating the present accessibility
conditions, where the gabs are and what can be done.
Information system - accessdenmark.com
Accessdenmark.com is a marketing platform, where
companies or authorities can present information on accessibility in order to
achieve more customers, get more satisfied customers, new type of customers,
improving their image, avoid bad publicity or simply communicate about the
accessibility so that customers can make an informed decision on how to visit
The overall purpose is to mainstream the information on accessibility and
that everyone have access to the information needed along with prices, opening
hours etc. In Denmark information on accessibility is not a natural part of the
basic information about a place, and getting reliable information can be a
barrier. All factsheet are to be found on godadgang.dk /accessdenmark.com and we
cooperate with other sites, so that the fact sheets will be spread as much as
possible to relevant users. Today we deliver information to some very important
sites in Denmark for instance visitdenmark.com and sundhed.dk - the public site
about "where to find a medical clinic" (doctors, dentist, physiotherapist a.o.)
The feedback report
The report is a very important
worktool and central for our services and ongoing dialog with the
company/building. If the minimum criteria for one or more of the 7 groups are
fulfilled the mark for this/these group/s are given. If the criteria are not
fulfilled an action plan is made with suggestions for improving the
circumstances that need to be changed in order to fulfill all of the criteria
for all 7 groups. The feedback provide the management with knowledge about the
circumstances of importance to the accessibility and suggests improvements that
can be done. Our auditor pays a visit to the company/building every third year
or when needed and we support the management in every matter needed concerning
The authorities or companies decide themselves if they want the Access
Denmark label. The label is not a part of a public task or
certification/certificate (yet) but a private and voluntary initiative. We don't
have mandatory accessibility audits in Denmark.
Members of the Access Denmark Label
All places marked
with Access Denmark label are members of the labelsystem. The companies pay an
entrance fee according to the efforts needed to make the first
audit/registration and pay a small member fee every year. Every third year we
pay a return visit to update the information and the company pay a fee according
to the work done. In the first couple of years the organization were funded by
public and private funds but today the activities and member fees finance the
Why did you choose this approach?
15 years ago the label was introduced as a very practical and educational
tool. We had and still have plenty of literature and knowledge about user needs
and checklists of how to build accessible, but nobody reads them. A hotel
director has other things that come first. So the label was formed so that it
becomes relevant - and contains some advantages relevant to the business. We
demonstrate accessibility in a building that the owner knows - and not as a
theoretical/general knowledge. A hotel can work with accessibility based on the
feedback in the report without knowing much in advance. And maybe you may want
to do more first you have started.
We have seen other countries focusing
very much on education and it is important too. But to try to introduce f.
instance to the tourism sector the need of sending employees on an accessibility
course is very difficult. The companies have so many tasks allready. And
furthermore the staff changes very rapidly within the tourism sector so
knowledge come and go. So we chose a tool with educational side effects instead
of traditional knowledge building.
Important were also that the data are used both for internal and external
purposes. We have seen forgotten accessibility reports on forgotten shelves and
the information is not used by anyone. Now we have information that can be used
as a marketing tool, data are taken care of and updated and can work as a
What were and are the greatest challenges in implementing this type of label
The label is voluntary and we have to emphasize the advantages again and
again and work hard to explain the benefits of working with accessibility. Most
people don't see the need or assume that the accessibility is fine.
Accessibility is not accepted as a discipline of highly competent character.
Everyone knows a wheelchairuser who can be asked…. - what about the rest!
Often we hear the argument: People with disabilities call us and ask about
the circumstances. My answer is - what would happen if you approached all of
your customers in that way? It is the only target group where some companies
assume that the customers arrive without a marketing effort or product
A registration system is needed. A very large one. There are so many details
for each group that an audit is not possible without a data system that keeps
track on when the criteria for different groups are fulfilled and where to
suggest what improvements. A labelsystem is an expensive service in the
What lessons have you learned since you started?
The acceptance of the label as an official label is A and O for the
implementation. The label is created in consensus and in cooperation with all
the right players to whom it may be relevant. Users, companies, authorities a.o.
Everyone has been heard and have contributed. And we have a case where nobody
15 years ago some people predicted that the label would die, when the money
ran out but we are still here and are doing well. 15 years ago consultancy on
accessibility was nothing that the danish building industry were ready or
willing to pay for, but we have succeeded with the combination of marketing and
consultancies services towards our members and the label are today used for
different purposes. This is a good development because accessibility and
universel design are disciplines that belong within the building industry at the
same level as energy and environmental strategies.
We take care of everything for the customer. Compared to the environmental
labels the customer has to spend a lot of time to prepare to obtain the label.
Because accessibility is "difficult" it is important that we offer to do the
It is hard to be small. Access Denmark is a small organization and we depend
on that the Danish disability organizations and players within the tourism
industry, health sector a.o. use the tool in their political work. That Access
Denmark is suggested as a way to go in political papers and decisions. We have
obtained to be mentioned in public procurement as a criteria and that is very
important for the acceptance of the label and for generating new places to be
The quality has to be sky high - even though it is a very small niche the
envy and down talking can be unpleasant. We have to deliver value for money.
Everyone has an opinion on accessibility.
If you knew then, what you know now, what would you have done
I don't think that I would have done anything differently but that does not
mean that we don't have to develop from here and forward. Example: we use
auditors because accessibility was not a common implemented knowledge 15 years
ago. Today we are able to find some competent employees among the staff in for
instance the municipalities. We will develop our services so that the auditor
tasks (after a short education) can be taken care of by external auditors
according to a licens. But if we had done that 15 years ago we would not have
I would not have done things differently but I would have done more of
everything. Focus on political awareness, more marketing, seeking cooperation
with relevant organizations, unions a.o. more news releases, seeking financial
support to expand the staff and so on…….. I am sure that we will have plenty to
do the next 15 years.