A proud history

Reverend Hans Knudsen is considered by many to being the founder of the Danish disability movement.

At a time, when there was no tradition for taking societal responsibility for people with disabilities, Reverend Hans Knudsen was a pioneer in his work for caring for those, who were dependent on the help and mercy of others.

Driven by his vision to make people with physical disabilities more independent, Hans Knudsen founded Samfundet og Hjemmet for Vanføre in 1872.

The Danish Association of the Physically Disabled (DHF)
Rasmus Rasmussen was born with just one hand, and he received training as a furniture-maker at Samfundet og Hjemmet for Vanføre.

In the 1920s, the Danish society was affected by an increased unemployment rate, and many of those who had been trained from Samfundet og Hjemmet for Vanføre, were rejected when they applied for jobs. This called for action with regards to setting the political agenda, by raising an awareness of people with physical disabilities and their challenges on the labour market, and in society in general.

On November 18, 1925, Rasmus Rasmussen established Landsforeningen af Vanføre og Lemlæstede (‘the national association of the crippled and injured’). The key issue was to ensure the livelihood for people with physical disabilities, either through employment, or through sickness insurance funds.

In 1948, a unanimous board of representatives decided to simplify the name by changing it to Landsforeningen af Vanføre. However, in the 1980s, the term ‘vanfør’ was considered to be outdated, and the name of the association was thus consequently changed to: Dansk Handicap Forbund (the Danish Association of the Physically Disabled). Internally, we often use the abbreviation: DHF.

DHF today 
During the first 5 years, many of the local branches saw the light of day, while 3 of 4 special interest groups came into existence in 1972; the Parental group, the Youth group and RYK – the spinal cord injured in Denmark. The latest addition - the interest group of the Amputated - was established in 2000.

Development work has been part of DHF since the 1990s. Starting with the collection and renovation of wheelchairs which were sent to e.g. Nicaragua, the work has later evolved into larger programmes, in collaboration with Danida and the Project Counselling in Nicaragua, Honduras, Ghana and Uganda.

Read more about our international activities here.


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