Poland - Article 26

(updated 08/01/2018)

Law and Policy

  1. Is there a legal right to habilitation and rehabilitation services in your country? Please describe relevant laws and give links to further information for:
    • a. Health
    • b. Education
    • c. Employment
    • d. Social Services

      The fundamental act that regulates matters related to the visually impaired is an Act on social and Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment of Persons with Disabilities (Journal of Laws, 2016, no. item: 480.) This act sets out conditions under which one can obtain the disability certificate and also enumerates various forms of support of the visually impaired. Detailed regulations concerning various forms of rehabilitation and support for the visually impaired are described in the folllowing acts and documents:
      The Regulation of the Ministry for Labour and Social Policy on Rehabilitation holidays
      The Regulation of the minister for Economy, Labour and Social Policy on running in-door vocational sheltered workshops
      The Regulation of the Minister for Labour and social Policy on conducting workplaces on Professional activation.

  2. Is there a legal right to assistive technology, aids and equipment? (i) Blind persons (ii) Partially sighted persons

    This issue has been generally described in the aforementioned Act on Vocational and Social rehabilitation of Persons with disabilities and Employment. In more details, this issue was included in the Regulation of the Minister for Labour and Social Policy on tasks and duties performed by a commune and financed from the means given by the State Fund for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities.

  3. Do laws on rehabilitation recognise and support participation in all aspects of community life?

    No

  4. Are there policies on habilitation and rehabilitation services for people who are blind or partially sighted?
    • a. For children who are (i) Blind persons (ii) Partially sighted persons

      The Regulation of the Minister for Education on organising early intervention care centres for children.

    • b. For adults of working age who are (i) Blind persons (ii) Partially sighted persons
    • c. For older people who are (i) Blind persons (ii) Partially sighted persons
  5. Do policies recognise the importance of a personalised multidisciplinary assessment of each individual´s needs and circumstances? Please describe the policies and give web links to more information, for people who are: a. Blind persons b. Partially sighted persons

    N/A

  6. Are there policies on developing peer support for habilitation and rehabilitation?
    • a. For children (please also include policies on family support) who are (i) Blind (ii) Partially sighted
    • b. For people of working age who are (i) Blind persons (ii) Partially sighted persons
    • c. For older people who are (i) Blind persons (ii) Partially sighted persons

      N/A

  7. Are there resources for peer support services?

    N/A

  8. Do blind and visually impaired people and their organisations fully participate as equal partners in the development of policies and standards for habilitation and rehabilitation services?

    Non-governmental organisations acting for persons with disabilities can usually give opinion on acts for persons with disabilities. Unfortunately, representatives of the 3rd sector do not take part in amending law for the blind.

Access to Habilitation and Rehabilitation

Support Services

  1. Are there dedicated services for both partially sighted and blind people that meet their distinct needs? Are these habilitation and rehabilitation services focussed on supporting independent living in the community living for people who are:

    Such services are mainly performed by non-governmental organisations and carry out their tasks on the basis of granted donations. A person with disability can participated in activities organised at his/her home, during the organised camp or while visiting the organisation. Guarantee for constant financing of such activities is the main concern.

  2. What is the full range of services in your country

    Because these tasks are mainly conducted by non-governmental organisations, one cannot associate this with the full range of services.

  3. How is eligibility determined to access habilitation and rehabilitation services for

    The donor, e.g. a public institution, in their announcement on the competition sets out particular criteria for beneficiaries i.e. blind or partially sighted persons, local or national activity of the project, the project is for people at working age, the eldery or for children, etc.

  4. Who provides habilitation and rehabilitation services (for example, dedicated blindness and low vision rehabilitation and support centres, hospitals (private and public), NGOs)?

    Rehabilitation and habilitation services are mainly carried out by non-governmental organisations or their branches e.g. their rehabilitation centres, institutes or associated clinics, etc.

  5. Are services available locally in all parts of the country?

    No, the main problem concerns small towns and rural areas. In contrast, it is relatively easy to find such services in large cities.

  6. How are services funded (for example, free, paid for by the user, means tested)?

    Usually, services provided by non-governmental organisations are free-of-charge. Those provided during rehabilitation holidays are paid but a participant may claim for 50% refund of the expenses.

  7. If services are not free have any problems of affordability been reported?

    In some regions of Poland it is hardly possible to find qualified experts, they are not employed or their number is insufficient.

  8. Are services available for all age groups: children, adults and older people?

    It is relatively easy to find services for children since they have systemic financing. Service for adults and the elderly are carried out by non-governmental organisations that may receive funding according to the competition.

Access to Equipment and Technologies

  1. The CRPD states that governments should make sure disabled people know about aids, technology and assistive devices and how to use them. How is this done in your country?

    Non-governmental organisations and companies that sell equipment for the visually impaired give advice and information about new technologies.

  2. What training is provided in the use of equipment and technology?

    If local governments or ministries assign tasks to conduct training, the training is as follows: Computer skills with the use of assistive technologies: speech and magnifying software; the use of modern smartphones and assistive applications. The idea of modern technologies is relatively new in Poland. Thus, training e.g. how to use a smartphone are not conducted in the whole country but in certain groups.

  3. How is eligibility for equipment, technology and training determined?

    It depends who gives the money. If the State Fund for Rehabilitation is the donor, this institution usually sets out the eligibility criteria: children, people with disabilities at working age, the elderly, etc. It is hardly the case that a particular project is addressed to all persons with disabilities.

  4. How are aids, equipment and technology funded (for example, free, paid for by the user, means tested)?

    For assistance in financing the purchase of special equipment and software a visually impaired person can apply in the local family aid centre. Such centres receive money from the State fund for Rehabilitation to cover the expenses. The above support is provided in the following programmes: The programme to overcome barriers in communication, the programme to overcome technical barriers, an Active Self-governance. Financial assistance can also be given by National Health Service. The frequency of financing is determined by the programme, and the kind of equipment.

  5. If services are not free have any problems of affordability been reported?

    n/a

  6. Are there any limitations on the choice of equipment? What are these?

    Blind - because of high prices of Braille devices, this group of beneficiaries can claim for more money
    partially sighted - the amount to apply for is lower than for the blind.

Development of the Competence of Professionals

  1. Are there training programmes for rehabilitation professionals? Please describe these (If there is accredited training, the qualifications recognised, where people are trained, to what level etc.)

    Experts are trained during the academic programme (e.g. special pedagogy departments,) or during courses organised by our organisation and academic institutions. The duration and level of such courses varies. In Poland there is no profession of spatial orientation teacher, the visual training expert, and experts in daily skills and new technologies. For this reason such training is only recognised among blind people.

  2. Please describe how rehabilitation professionals are trained. Does training emphasise meeting needs on an individual basis?

    The form of training depends on the organisation.

  3. Does professional training incorporate human rights perspectives?

    This is a very important issue.

  4. Additional comments on professional training

    n/a

Your Organisation

  1. Does your organisation represent both blind and partially sighted people in your country?

    Polish Association of the Blind has been established by the visually impaired and is governed by people with sight disabilities. It associates approximately 55 thousand members.

  2. What are the conditions for someone with visual impairment to become a member of your organisation or use its services? Please be as specific as possible both for blind and partially sighted people.

    An ordinary member of our organisation is a person above sixteen who, due to sight problems, has the severe or moderate disability level or is in any other circumstances recognised as unable to work. People who had been given disability certificate before September 1, 1997 are also entitled for membership.
    A member under supervision of our organisation is a person below sixteen recognised as a person with disability or any other person above sixteen who, due to health problems, is unable to fulfil duties of the ordinary members. Members under supervision do not have electoral rights.
    A foreigner residing in Poland for a definite or indefinite period who has the disability certificate can also be a member of our organisation. For the above reasons, a person with the light disability level cannot be a member of our organisation.
    If one is willing to be a member of our organisation, he/she has to prove the disability by presenting proper disability certificate. Any other document e.g. related to glasses, etc. is not acceptable.
    Currently, institutions that issue disability certificate obey the following rules:
    A person with severe disability degree: one who has lost their eyesight, in the better eye the visual acuity is 0,05 or lower and his/her visual field is 20 degrees or lower.
    The person with moderate disability degree: a person whose visual acuity in the better eye is from 0,06 to 0,1, their visual field is from 21 to 30 degrees.
    Persons with the light disability degree are those whose better eye after the use of appropriate glasses is not greater than 0,3.
    Children under sixteen are only recognised as persons with disability with no further division into particular degrees.
    A disable child: when an innate or acquired disease causes damage that visual acuity in the better eye is not greater than 5,25 or 0,2 according to the Snellen grid. Another factor is when the vision field is 30 degrees and less.
    Our activities do not require membership from our beneficiaries.

  3. Is this strictly applied, or is there more flexibility in practice?

    We strictly obey the above criteria.

  4. Is there another organisation that a person with visual impairment can turn to if they cannot affiliate to your organisation or if you cannot meet their needs? Please give as many details as possible.

    n/a

  5. How is your organisation involved in the implementation of the right to habilitation and rehabilitation support services and programmes for both blind people and people with partial sight? Please give as much detail as possible, especially regarding:
    • a. policies and standards
    • b. monitoring of implementation
    • c. actions to ensure that dedicated services are in place that meet the distinct needs of blind and partially sighted people.
    • d. actual provision of services to blind and partially sighted people and the rights that people with visual impairment have to services.

      On the one hand, our activity is based on lobbying for implementation of rehabilitation standards in Polish legal system. On the other, we carry out tasks to improve rehabilitation of the visually impaired.

  6. Is there an officer or expert appointed in your organisation to work on partial sight matters? Please describe.

    N/A

  7. What actions is your organisation taking to implement the right to rehabilitation services with dedicated, distinct services for blind people and people who have low vision, and to ensure that these services are/will be available in practice? Please give details (examples: lobbying, cooperation with rehabilitation centres, setting up support services, cooperation with universities to develop specific training for rehabilitation experts etc.)

    N/A

  8. How does your organisation inform people with visual impairments and the general public about living with blindness and partial sight? (Examples: a website, a national helpline, information stands in hospitals, campaigns, etc.)

    The faq and resources on our web sites, organisation of rehabilitation holidays for newly blind, organisation of meetings for new members of our organisation, individual discussions.

  9. How does your organisation inform others about the available habilitation and rehabilitation and support services for blind and partially sighted people?

    Via our web site and social media, our newsletter and mailing list of our members, etc. If it is possible, we inform the public via mass media (press, radio, tv and the visual information in the public transport.)

  10. In what way is your organisation working with specialised ophthalmologists, optometrists, rehabilitation centres, and teachers, residential homes for older people etc. to prevent, inform and support people with visual impairment?

    n/a

  11. Is your organisation involved in the Vision 2020 initiative in your country?

    n/a

  12. Are you familiar with the EBU standards for low vision services in Europe toolkit for implementing the right of partially sighted people to the services they need? How helpful is this resource document?

    No, and we do not use them.

  13. What, if any, type of support would you like to have to implement UNCRPD article 26 for blind and partially sighted people? Be as specific as possible.

    We need support in convincing government officials that systemic rehabilitation solutions are better than occasional projects and grants. Such assistance for the visually impaired shall be guaranteed if they need that rather than at the time of conducting a project. A support network is necessary outside of large, urban areas.

  14. If you compare the current situation with five years ago, regarding the implementation of the right to rehabilitation services for blind people and for people with partial sight, would you say that in your country:
    • a. nothing has changed (explain )
    • b. The situation has worsened (explain why and how)
    • c. The situation has improved (explain why and how)

      In the last five years, the access to services has not been improved. Hence, introduction of systemic solutions and permanent financing of such services are indispensable.

  15. Is further action needed in your country? If yes, please explain what needs to be done.

    In the last five years, the access to services has not been improved. Hence, introduction of systemic solutions and permanent financing of such services are indispensable.

  16. Please send any articles, material, training, standards, protocols, or links that you feel could perhaps serve your colleagues in other EBU countries aiming at high standards services for everyone with sight loss.

    N/A