Campaigns and activities
If we speak on the governmental level in the Czech Republic there is an intention to create a single act on rehabilitation of persons with disabilities, but so far it has not been put through. Current legislation is thus fragmented into several regulations, see below. The legislation which will be cited may be downloaded (in Czech only). Since often the same rules apply to both blind and partially sighted people, the reply will be unified and the same for both categories. Only when the answers differ substantially to the extent it makes sense to distinguish them, they will be stated in separate for each of the categories pursuant to what the questionnaire conception asks for.
and give links to further information for:
Blind - The act on public health insurance (48/1997 Coll.) regulates the possibility to make use of the guide during hospitalization in bed sickness equipment (a hospital or spa); The act on medical devices 268/2014 Coll. defines that some of assistive aids such as many types of white cane, talking medical thermometer, optical aids are covered from public health insurance
Partially Sighted - n/a
Educational actNo 561/2004 Coll., Articles 16 to 19 titled Education of children, pupils and students with special educational needs”. This law covers nursery schools, primary and secondary education. The standard is set to educate a child in a regular school (inclusion). Possibility of education in special education facility is anchored, however, they belong to the so-called support measures. Which are divided into five grades according to their severity and financial costs. We do not consider inclusion of blind pupils as a basic approach to be an optimal solution. Among the essential supportive measures important to visually impaired people, which are contained in the law, we mention: - adaptation of conditions at entry exams and finals - use of assistive aids, special textbooks and special teaching aids, - Braille - education according to the individual educational plan, - use of teacher assistant. A specialised institution called Education Counseling Center decides on what supportive measures are deemed necessary for a particular pupil, yet a consent from the legal guardian (parent) is always required. The supportive measures are free of charge for pupils or their parents. There are virtually no special laws or implementing regulations on higher education of the visually impaired people (or persons with other disabilities). The right for a higher education of people with visual impairment thus stems from the general provisions of the Constitution of the Czech Republic (Constitutional Act no. 1/1993 Coll.) and the Basic Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Constitutional Act no. 2/1993 Coll.).
At the level of government policy, we may then mention National Plan for the Promotion of Equal Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities 2015-2020. In reality Support Centers for students with special needs have arisen at universities, albeit with no support by legislation. These centers are dedicated to establishing conditions suitable for education of people with (any) handicap. These centers often followed the activities of centers focused on people with visual handicap (i.e. centers not related to education system). There are libraries collecting textbooks in accessible formats (usually digitized text, even as an output to an individual order]. These centers also help in creating the necessary special tools, facilitate communication with the college. At the level of individual universities and their respective curricula, there are treatment of admissions, exams during the study (extension of time limits, providing digitized materials, oral exams, etc.).
Support for the employment of persons with disabilities is regulated by the Employment Act (Act No. 435/2004 Coll.]. The Act regulates vocational rehabilitation for persons with disabilities eligible for this rehabilitation, as well as other measures or benefits to promote employment of persons with disabilities. All of them are linked to disability, respectively to long-term decline in working capacity of at least 35%. Employers that provide rehabilitation to those persons are entitled to reimbursement of certain expenses, e.g. energy, labor aids, insurance, etc. A contribution for an employer, which employs person with a disability on the current (ordinary) market, is defined, though the contribution is optional.
On the other hand the contribution for an employer employing disabled people on a protected market is obligatory. Employers employing on a protected market are defined as those, where people with disabilities make more than 50 % of the employer’s overall labour force. In these cases it is possible to get a contribution covering up to 75 % of gross labor costs, though there is also an absolute maximum which is set around the minimum wage (starting from Jan 1, 2018 the minimum wage will be CZK 12,200, around €470 with current exchange rate of 26 CZK/€). The contribution may thus currently make up to CZK 9,000 (€350) a month. Yet another is the so called „mandatory minimum rate”: every employer with at least 25 employees is obliged to employ at least one person with disability (for an employer with 50+ employees the minimum is 2 disabled employees and so forth with 4 %). It is possible to satisfy this requirement also by „alternative fulfilment“, that is by buying goods or services from companies which employ over 50 % disabled people or from disabled entrepreneur (those, who are self-employed). The ways of fulfilling this obligation can be combined. Should a company not fulfil this requirement, it pays a kind of penalty in raised taxes. There are also few other tax deducing incentives we will not cover in detail.
Social services are regulated by the Social Services Act (Act No. 108/2006 Coll.). The law stipulates that any body wishing to provide social services must be "registered". Furthermore, the quality standards of the services provided are defined, that means certain criteria according to which the services are assessed. The legislation also regulates the benefit called "care allowance". The amount of contribution is derived from the ability of the visually impaired person to manage so called statutory basic necessities of life alone, without the help of another natural person. I. degree = CZK 800 (cca €30) per month II. degree = CZK 4400 (cca €170) per month III. degree = CZK 8800 (cca €340) per month IV. degree = CZK 13,200 (cca €510) per month The amount of the benefit is not derived from the type of visual impairment, but in theory rather from the individual assessment of the impact of the visual impairment on the practical life of the claimant or beneficiary. A typical fully blind yet healthy person qualifies for the II. degree, while a partially sighted person qualifies for only I. degree (if he/she qualifies at all).
The Act on the Provision of Benefits to Persons with Disabilities (Act No. 329/2011 Coll.) regulates the benefit called "special aid allowance". Under this law, the blind people are entitled to a contribution covering 90 % of costs of obtaining the following items (in their least costly/basic variant): - calculator with voice output, - digital reading equipment for the blind with a voice output (i.e. a computer with a screenreader), - digital notebook for the visually impaired with voice output or Braille display, - special software for the visually impaired, - a guide dog - a typewriter for the blind (i.e. Perkins Brailler), - DYMO pliers (good for Braille marking stickers), - electronical orientation aid for the blind or deafblind - electronical communication aid for the blind or deafblind, - color indicator for the blind, - household measuring instruments with voice or tactile output, - Braille display for the blind, - embossed characters printer for the blind, - voice labelers for the blind and deaf-blind, - dictaphone. According to the Education Act and starting from (i.e. with effect from) September 2016, it should be possible to purchase equipment needed for the education from the budget of the school the pupil attends in the context of the above mentioned supportive measures. (ii) Partially sighted persons
According to the above quoted Act on the provision of benefits to persons with disabilities the partially sighted people are eligible for contribution for following devices:
- calculator with voice output,
- digital reading equipment for the blind with a voice output,
- digital notebook for the visually impaired with voice output or Braille display,
- special software for the visually impaired,
- camera zoom magnifier,
- digital magnifying glass.
Recently an allowance covering the training on usage of demanding assistive aids has been cancelled, thus in some cases the visually impaired people have to cover it from their own resources, sometimes it is possible to integrate this service as a part of some similar services, sometimes it is necessary to obtain funds from private sources (foundations).
All of these categories are covered by the document mentioned in point 1.1 b), that is the National Plan for the Promotion of Equal Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities 2015-20.
Again, we reference to the National Plan for the Promotion of Equal Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities 2015-20. However, it must be said that the social rehabilitation program, which would have ensured a complex process in which the team of cooperating experts from various fields would participate, still does not work. The communication between doctors and social workers does not work properly.
Early care centers are available to the families with children with visual impairments from the beginning (i.e. from the time the visual impairment of the newborn child has been discovered). It is a registered social service according to the Social Services Act. These centers provide services, particularly in the form of field or ambulatory, to families with preschool children. These centers hand over the families and their children respectively to the special pedagogical centers that should accompany children during their primary and secondary attendance. When attending the university the said university centres established by individual universities or by their faculties are available to the visually impaired students (please refer to point 1.1. b) for details).
Rehabilitation by Tyfloservis, a nationwide not-for-profit organization, a subsidiary of the Czech Blind United, is available to visually impaired people of working age. Tyfloservis services are designed for all people aged 15 or over who have severe vision problem or are completely blind. Information, tools and systematic skills training that will help increase independence in everyday activities are all available to the clients. For more details please visit „Basic information in English“ section.
There is no comprehensive approach in the Czech Republic for seniors with visual impairment. The Czech Blind United is in the last few years trying to develop a project that would in a comprehensive manner compile theoretical solutions meeting the needs of the visually impaired seniors. However, services for adults are available to seniors, at least to the extent that their limitations arising from age or other health problems allow to attend these programs.
do not understand
Czech Blind United, a registered association, hereinafter referred to by its Czech acronym as „SONS“, is an organization representing the interests of blind and partially sighted people at national, regional and local level. In general, the Czech National Disability Council (hereinafter referred to as by its Czech acronym NRZP) advocates for the interests of all disabled people. NRZP has got representatives in the Government Board for People with Disabilities (hereinafter GBPD), a permanent coordinating, initiative and advisory body to the Government on the issue of support for citizens with disabilities. Since SONS is not a NRZP member for more than 10 years, it is theoretically possible to say that the visually impaired people in the Czech Republic are not represented at government level. However, in practice, the central authorities (ministries) do consult issues related to the visual impairment with SONS, and so is SONS on ad hoc basis being invited to GBPD meetings. To give an example this year SONS initiated a solution for the problem of blind entrepreneurs with electronic sales recording and contributed to finding a consensus on the government's regulation defining an exemption for the blind.
In the Czech Republic it is primarily Tyfloservis (see point 1.5. b).), which engages in rehabilitation of adult people, who lost their sight during their lives as well as of people, who acquired their visual impairment in their childhood. Tyfloservis services consist in particular of practicing self-care, cooking, orientation, walking with a white cane, Braille, typing on a computer keyboard, help with selection of the most suitable optical aids and many more. Another institution dealing with the rehabilitation of the visually impaired people is the Rehabilitation and Training Centre for the Blind Dedina (Czech only). It is again a not-for-profit subsidiary of SONS. This center offers the opportunity to retrain for the following professions: - blind and visually impaired masseur, - auxiliary works in a ceramic workshop, - basketry, wicker and rattan production, - personal computer operator, - hand weaver, - worker in cardboard production, - tinker. The center also offers vocational and social rehabilitation. Some skills,particularly operating computers with assistive technologies are offered also by other subsidiaries of SONS, not-for-profit TyfloCenters.
Besides the already mentioned services SONS also runs a Guide Dog Training Center (Czech only). From the legislation point of view (Act on the provision of benefits to persons with disabilities) the guide dog is considered to be an assistive aid, which may be subsidised by 90 % of the costs using the aforementioned allowance. There are also other guide dog training centers in the Czech Republic. There are also 2 nationwide professional clubs operating within SONS, namely Guild of visually impaired masseurs and Club of music teachers with visual disabilities. These clubs provide various trainings to their members in professions that have been and to certain degree still are quite frequent and successful in terms of employability of visualy impaired people on the labor market. The trainings are tailored specifically to the needs of these visually impaired professionals.
Claims for the provision of vocational rehabilitation are most often derived from the degree of incapacitation due to long-term poor health, usually by at least 35 % (percentages related to a certain disability is set in a manual). In an individual case, the Labor Office may confer entitlement to certain benefits of the Employment Act to persons that would not meet this criterion, if such people are substantially limited due to long-term poor health in ability to get a job, stay included in the labor market, serve in their current occupation or make use of their current competencies or gain additional new competencies. Entitlement to an allowance for special aid laid down in the Act on the provision of benefits to people with disabilities is on the contrary quite strictly determined by visual acuity (visus) and limited field of vision of the applicant. It can be said that the limit is 3/60,or 6/60 respectively in case of malfunction of the second eye. A person whose only functional eye has limited field of view concentric to up to 45 degrees from the fixation point qualifies as well. Entitlement to services of Tyfloservis NGO will, in turn be judged by far more practical criteria, i.e. by a real need of these services for the reason of achieving a certain degree of visual impairment (it is unlikely that a man would like to learn e.g. proper technique of walking with a white cane unless he would really need it). Especially when the entitlement to the provision of services by this organisation is not related to any claim for any financial benefit, thus the risk of misuse is rather low.
See the previous question
Services of Tyfloservis NGO are available throughout whole Czech Republic, served by fourteen coequal regional centers having essentially the same equipment and facilities. Services of Rehabilitation and Training Centre for the Blind Dedina are offered in Prague only, but the centre provides lodging for participants coming from the outside of Prague. Tyflocenters are located in all regional cities, but not every one of them provides full service.
If services are provided as the registered social services, which is the case of all services provided by Tyfloservis, then they are free of charge for the clients. Costs of such services are covered mainly by state subsidies and in part also from private resources (sponsoring). Some of the services provided by Tyflocenters have to be (partially) covered by their clients. Services related to vocational rehabilitation or retraining are free of charge for the clients, they are funded by either state through Labor Office or in some (exceptional) cases directly by the employers. Support measures in primary and secondary schools are newly reimbursed by the state.
As mentioned above, the problem is in covering trainings related to operation of personal computers equipped with assistive technologies or operation of similarly demanding assistive aids like smartphones.
The services are usually financed by the state, but for NGOs that provide the services, government subsidies are not always sufficient, and the remainder is covered by private resources for which the NGO has to ask.
Families with visually impaired child are getting first information on assistive aids in early care centers and in special pedagogical centers. Information on available aids are provided by regional centers of Tyfloservis (especially optical aids) and also by selected Tyflocenters. The suppliers themselves are also active in promoting some available assistive aids and providing information on them. SONS at headquarters operates (centrally) Tyflokabinet department, which is responsible for coordinating the work of instructors teaching operation of demanding aids equipped with assistive technologies. SONS also operates shops of assistive aids for people with visual impairment called Tyfloprodejna (literally Typhloshop) in Prague (Czech only link): as well as in Olomouc (Czech only link): Potential customers are able to get information in person in these high street stores and so do they also get a short training. An e-shop is furthermore also available.
Operation of PC-based demanding assistive aids are taught by Tyflocenters’ teachers, who are to a considerable extent coordinated by a central office of Tyflokabinet, one of SONS headquarters department. Tyfloservis provides training on simpler, less sophisticated aids (magnifiers,glasses).
While previously a contribution to the training of operating the demanding assistive aids was laid down by a decree, currently it is not. Nonetheless, the provision of courses may sometimes be included in a social service called "social rehabilitation" or "social activation service", in which case the service is free of charge for the user and paid by the state. There are also various ad hoc projects emerging, e.g. in support of the employment of persons with disabilities organized by the Labor Office, possibly in the context of EU-funded projects, which include training on operating demanding assistive aids. Even in these cases, training is usually provided free of charge. However, if blind or partially sighted individuals fail to capture such project or such a program does not take place e.g. close to their place of residence, they are forced to provide training at their own expense.
The state provides a contribution to obtaining the special aid laid down by the aforementioned act on the provision of benefits to persons with disabilities (Act No 329/2011 Coll.), which guarantees people with some degree of visual impairment allowance for equipment listed in the law (see Section 1.2, in the amount of 90 % of the estimated price of the equipment. Children usually do not face a problem with financing aids, however recently and partially in connection with the increase in the number of accessible assistive aids (like iPhone, etc.) we register more frequent need for extended participation on purchasing costs of such assistive devices, although according to the law the participation should be limited to 10 %, with even the possible reduction on exception. The trouble is in that the law talks about the basic design of the aid with the lowest price which would still suit the needs of the impaired person with regard to his/her disability. The problem is in the interpretation and application of the provisions when the authority often calculates as deemed cost a price lower than the one which the supplier of equipment requests, thereby forcing the applicant to either buy an aid at a lower standard or contribute with higher share on the price.
Yes (see answer to previous question), people who do not receive a contribution of 90 % or even full price are sometimes forced to ask for contributions to certain foundations. Here, of course, the success rate is different. However, the situation certainly cannot be perceived as too critical.
Please see above.
In the case of services provided as registered social services, the qualification of individual workers is determined by the Act on Social Services (Act No. 108/2006 Coll.). One may say that all professional services must be provided by "social workers", possibly "workers in social services". Roughly speaking, it should always be a person with an education at least at the level of maturity gained in the school focused on social work (maturity is a diploma certifying passing of the high school exit exams), or person with a university education - in which case in addition to major in social work it is also possible to graduate in a related fields such as health, special education, law. Tyflokabinet, a department of SONS, organizes regular training for instructors teaching visually impaired PC users who need to control the computer with assistive technologies. We may say that all teachers under the influence of Tyflokabinet operate according to the same methodological standards. Teachers undergo training at the end of which they shall pass an exam verifying their knowledge and receive a certificate upon successful completion. At present time the training is not accredited by the Ministry of Education. In the area of education of instructors who train spatial orientation and independent and safe mobility of visually impaired people, a comprehensive program is provided by Tyfloservis. This program is accredited by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. And so is the case with the Braille instructors, they are again people who have to go through an education accredited by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, and which is provided by Tyfloservis. SONS offers a project of specialization for teachers who may learn how to teach visually impaired people spatial orientation, but this project is currently not in progress.
Both the courses for future instructors of operating the PC with the help of assistive technologies as well as instructors of spatial orientation have been managed in a way so that instructors know how to teach with regard to the individual needs of their visually impaired trainees. After completing the introductory courses, length of which is more or less in hundreds of hours, there is a verification of knowledge of future instructors followed by receiving a certificate of completion of the course which is, in the case of spatial orientation and independent and safe mobility and teaching Braille, accredited by central authority. Even after the completion of these courses additional trainings are organized for instructors to help them maintain and expand the acquired erudition.
We are not able to answer this question in a meaningful way.
Yes, even Czech name of our organization includes both blind and partially sighted people. Please note in English we do use Czech Blind United though, which does not perfectly match our Czech name, which in turn could be literally translated as the “United Organization of Blind and Partially Sighted People of the Czech Republic”.
According to Art. VII. paragraph 3 of SONS Charter, available in Czech here; any natural person, blind, partially sighted or even without visual impairment may become an individual member of SONS.
With regard to the benevolence of this provision one may say that this is strictly applied!
With regard to democracy and pluralism in the Czech Republic there are also, of course, more organizations aimed at meeting the needs or the provision of various services to visually impaired people in different segments of life, therefore among others providing also rehabilitation. However as far as we know SONS is the only organization whose aim is to defend the interests of visually impaired people as specific community from mainstream society. SONS and its subsidiaries (Tyfloservis in the first place) are still engaged in this activity. Besides SONS there are of course other organizations who offer provision of services to visually impaired people. In the event of trainings on work with PC and other similar assistive equipment we may name Guidance and Support Centre for Students with Special Needs ELSA for students of Czech Technical University in Prague or Support Centre for Students with Special Needs Teiresias at Masaryk University in Brno
In cooperation with our subsidiary Tyfloservis, an organization that deals with the largest part of rehabilitation, as we perceive it in the Czech Republic, we present the common ammendments to the legislative proposals that affect this issue. Recently, for example, there has been a regulation governing what types of white canes a blind user may get and how often he/she will be entitled to replace it; or comments on suggestions for changes to the obligations of social rehabilitation providers, which would increase the bureaucratic burden.
Please give as much detail as possible, especially regarding:
We also cooperate with Tyfloservis on commenting on the National Plan (see answer above).
Yes, many measures for the partially sighted are dealt with the methodological Centre for Barrier Elimination. However this Centre is also responsible for agenda related to fully blind persons, we may thus not say we would completely separate adaptations for partially sighted persons from those for the blind ones.
We provide various consultations to students involved in this area, especially when developing their bachelor or diploma theses. Tyfloservis regularly cooperates with pedagogical faculties, especially with students and teachers in special pedagogy. Tyfloservis also cooperates with manufacturers and resellers of optical aids.
Tyfloservis regularly informs ophthalmologists about the offer of its services, and provides leaflets for prospective clients so that they may learn as soon as possible after diagnosing more serious eye problems about the services Tyfloservis offers to help them manage new life situations.
All relevant information is available on our organization's website (mostly in Czech only) as well as on the Tyfloservis website (only „Basic Information in English“ link available). Further information can be obtained from employees or members of the regional branches of SONS, which are in more than 90 locations in many cities in the Czech Republic.
As has been already said, Tyfloservis cooperates with ophthalmologists and opticians. The Center for Barrier Elimination communicates with the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry for Regional Development, we present our services at various promotional events of the non-profit sector, we cooperate with other entities.
The contribution to the special aid has become a legal claim resulting in, on the one hand, an increase in the legal certainty of the visually impaired, on the other hand, the suppliers have unjustly/unjustifiably increased their prices of these aids, resulting in the state's effort to revise and reduce contributions . There has been no major change in social rehabilitation for some time, no rehabilitation law has yet been adopted to regulate this area in a comprehensive way. We are clearly reflecting the ever-increasing demands on the administration of these services, the bureaucratic burden is so high that sometimes the time spent recording and formal obligations outweighs the time of real provision of service. The constant problem that we are experiencing is the high unemployment rate of people with disabilities, in this field our organization is making a significant effort to improve the situation. We now employ almost 200 visually impaired employees. We have set up, for example, a workshop employing 10 visually impaired masseurs.
At present, we are struggling with the possibility of using the funds for working assistance when the new Employment Act is introduced.