Slovakia - Article 26

(updated 11/01/2018)

Law and Policy

  1. Is there a legal right to habilitation and rehabilitation services in your country?
    First of all services of habilitation and re-habilitation are not differentiated in Slovakia. Moreover there is no strict distinction between services for the blind and the partially sighted.
    Please describe relevant laws and give links to further information for:
    • a. Health (i) Blind persons (ii) Partially sighted persons
      Yes, there is a legal right. The main focus is upon vision rehabilitation i.e. orthoptics and pleoptics.
      Legislation related to this topic:
      - Act No. 576/2004 Coll. on healthcare, services connected with the provision of healthcare and amending certain acts, as amended
      - Act No. 577/2004 Coll. on the scope of healthcare reimbursed from public health insurance and payments for services connected with the provision of healthcare, as amended
      - Act No. 578/2004 Coll. on healthcare providers, healthcare professionals and professional organisations, and amending certain acts, as amended
      - Act No. 579/2004 Coll. on emergency medical services and amending certain acts, as amended
      - Act No. 580/2004 Coll. on health insurance and amending Act No. 95/2002 Z. z. on insurance and amending certain acts, as amended
      - Act No. 581/2004 Coll. on health insurance companies, healthcare supervision and on the amendment and supplementing of certain laws, as amended
      - Act No. 362/2011 Coll. on medicines and medical devices and amending certain acts, as amended
      - Act No. 363/2011 Coll. on the scope and conditions of payments for medicines, medical devices and dietetic foods from public health insurance and amending certain acts, as amended
      - Act No. 355/2007 Coll. on the protection, promotion and development of public health and amending certain acts, as amended
    • b. Education (i) Blind persons (ii) Partially sighted persons
      The education of persons with VI is assured by the State Education Programme. Furthermore regional specifications are implemented within several school education programmes. Concerning people with disabilities there are educational programmes specifically designed for E.G. people with visual impairment as well.
       General information about the state programe:
      Educational programe related to children with VI:
      Training and educationfor adults with acquired sight loss is provided by the Rehabilitation Centre for Visually Impaired in Levoca. This institution provides basic social rehabilitation and vocational training in different professions E.G. administration worker, masseur, basket-maker. Any adultVI person can attend these courses after fulfilling specific conditions.
      More information about the institution available here.
    • c. Employment (i) Blind persons (ii) Partially sighted persons
      In terms of rights of persons with disabilities, Slovakia has adopted a National Programme of Living Conditions for Persons with Disabilities for the Years 2014-2020. This document lays down commitments of the Slovak Government aiming to create optimal conditions for implementation of CRPD, including institutional management of its implementation and monitoring.
      Act No. 461/2003 Coll. on Social Insurance – especially paragraph 95 on occupational therapy (in practice due to low interest not really provided).
    • d. Social Services (i) Blind persons (ii) Partially sighted persons
      Covered by the Act No. 448/2008 Coll. on social services – especially paragraph 21 on social rehabilitation.
  2. Is there a legal right to assistive technology, aids and equipment? (i) Blind persons (ii) Partially sighted persons

    Yes, when fulfilling required criteria.
    Relevant legislation:
    - Act No. 447/2008 Coll. on Cash Benefits for Compensation of Severe Disability
    - Act No. 362/2011 Coll. on medicines and medical devices
    - Act No. 363/2011 Coll. on the scope and conditions of payments for medicines, medical devices and dietetic foods from public health insurance
    - Act No. 580/2004 Coll. on health insurance and amending Act No. 95/2002 Z. z. on insurance

  3. Do laws on rehabilitation recognise and support participation in all aspects of community life? (i) Blind persons (ii) Partially sighted persons
    Yes
  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
      State/school education programme as explained above.
    • b. For adults of working age who are (i) Blind persons (ii) Partially sighted persons
      Basic social rehabilitation and vocational training provided by the Rehabilitation Centre for VI in Levoca (as stated above).
    • c. For older people who are (i) Blind persons (ii) Partially sighted persons
      n/a
  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
    Yes
  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
      Act No. 448/2008 on social services – covering all ages and visual impairments
  7. Are there resources for peer support services? Please describe these and give web links where possible for people who are (i) Blind persons (ii) Partially sighted persons
    No
  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? Please give details for people who are (i) Blind persons (ii) Partially sighted persons
    Yes, especially disability organisations (Slovak Blind and Partially Sighted Union or the National Disability Council) participate on meetings regarding actual social legislation and policies.
    Moreover there is a Committee for Persons with Disabilities which is an advisory body established within the Government Council of the Slovak Republic for Human Rights, National Minorities and Gender Equality (advisory body to the Government of the Slovak Republic). The Committee aims to support human rights protection of persons with disabilities. It participates in preparation and monitors and evaluates the fulfilment of the National Programme of Living Conditions for Persons with Disabilities for the Years 2014-2020. The Committee submits its evaluation to the Government Council and it also participates in preparation of draft reports for human rights treaty bodies, i.e. the UN CRPD Committee. Under its Statute, the Committee comprises a wide membership including 13 members who are representatives of organisations of persons with various types of disabilities, including the Chairperson of the Slovak Disability Council.

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: (i) Partially sighted persons (ii) Blind persons
    Yes
  2. What is the full range of services in your country, for (i) Blind persons (ii) Partially sighted persons
    Again no specific distinction of services from the perspective of the type of visual impairment. All services are individualised according to the specific needs of a person. In Slovakia the following services of social rehabilitation are provided:
    - Mobility and orientation (using the white cane, mobility with a guide, utilising residual sight;
    - Daily-living skills (cooking, tiding, daily hygiene);
    - Assistive technology and optical aids usage;
    - Communication skills (reading and writing Braille, social and communication skills, typewriting);
    -Assistive technology usage (E.G. the use of a PC with a screen reader or magnifying software).
  3. How is eligibility determined to access habilitation and rehabilitation services for (i) Blind persons (ii) Partially sighted persons
    The eligibility to the access of services of social rehabilitation is determined by different criteria – usually depending on the given institution or local authority:
    - In order to access social rehabilitation services provided by the UNSS there is a need for mutual agreement (client vs. social worker) and signed individual rehabilitation plan (states individual goals and specifications of procedures and time-frame).
    - At the Rehabilitation Centre for VI in Levoca (the only Slovak institution that provides residential rehabilitation for VI adults( there is a need for fulfilling specific criteria (E.G. being older than 18).
    - For other institutions providing social services clients are assessed by self-governing regions.
    - Health rehabilitation is based on the recommendation of a medical practicioner.
  4. Who provides habilitation and rehabilitation services (for example, dedicated blindness and low vision rehabilitation and support centres, hospitals (private and public), NGOs)? (i) For blind persons (ii) For partially sighted persons
    - Social rehabilitation provided by UNSS regional centres, by the Rehabilitation Centre for VI in Levoca and primary schools for VI children.
    - Vision rehabilitation provided by health-care centres.
  5. Are services available locally in all parts of the country? (i) For blind persons (ii) For partially sighted persons
    Yes. More specifically – UNSS services are available in all regions in Slovakia, services provided by primary schools for VI children (esp. by their counselling centres) available only in Bratislava and Levoca, vision rehabilitation available in all regions.
  6. How are services funded (for example, free, paid for by the user, means tested)? (i) For blind persons (ii) For partially sighted persons
    The following financing resources are available:
    - Schooling and education financed through the state budget.
    - Health-care services financed through insurance.
    - Social services financed on the basis of agreements with self-governing regions.
  7. If services are not free have any problems of affordability been reported? (i) For blind persons (ii) For partially sighted persons
    Social services are according to the Act on Social Services free of charge for any person with visual impairment.
  8. Are services available for all age groups: children, adults and older people? (i) For blind persons (ii) For partially sighted persons

    Yes – services are available for all age groups and types of VI.

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? (i) For blind persons (ii) For partially sighted persons
    Information on various adaptive aids and assistive technology is published on the websites of the following state institutions:
    Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic:
    Centre of Labour,Social Affairs and Family:
    Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic:
    These institutions usually publish the list of adaptive aids for which people with disabilities can require state cash benefit.
    However VI people mostly obtain information about adaptive aids during social counselling provided by UNSS or specialized counselling centres at elementary schools for children with VI (Levoca and Bratislava) or also by companies distributing these aids and assistive technology (for instance company Tyflocomp).
  2. What training is provided in the use of equipment and technology? (i) For blind persons (ii) For partially sighted persons
    Basically VI people train for the use of specialized equipment and assistive technology within social rehabilitation services (based on the Act on Social Services) or within short-term training financed by the local labour Office (based on the Act on Cash Benefits for People with Severe Disabilities). The latter option is mostly applied in case of training the use of assistive technology i.e. computers and screen-reader or magnifying software.
  3. How is eligibility for equipment, technology and training determined? (i) For blind persons (ii) For partially sighted persons
    The granting (and eligibility) of compensation cash benefits is determined by individual assessment carried out by a medical assessor and a social worker of the competent Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family. Within the assessment process the person with a disability has a possibility to explain his/her need for the specific adaptive aid and describe its use. At the same time various financial aspects are assessed – E.G. financial income of a person with a disability as well as of his/her closest family - wife/husband.
    cash benefits for people with severe disabilities in Slovakia:
    Other types of adaptive aids (E.G. white cane, optical aids) are provided on the basis of health insurance; the VI person needs a prescription from a medical practicioner. These aids are co-financed by a VI person.
  4. How are aids, equipment and technology funded (for example, free, paid for by the user, means tested)? (i) For blind persons (ii) For partially sighted persons
    A VI person can either buy the equipment on his/her own cost or he/she can require cash benefit from the local Labour office (the cash benefit E.G. depends on the average income of the VI person).
    The state cash benefits are financed from the state budget; however aids (for instance white cane, optical aids) are financed through the state insurance based on compulsory insurance of each citizen.
  5. If services are not free have any problems of affordability been reported? (i) For blind persons (ii) For partially sighted persons.
    Yes – there is an evidence of cases when VI persons are not able to co-finance the required equipment. In fact the cash benefit provided by the Labour office is not 100%
  6. Are there any limitations on the choice of equipment? What are these? (i) For blind persons (ii) For partially sighted persons
    No – most of the existing equipment is available. The only limitation is that VI people cannot directly see or try the specific equipment (companies often have it just within their catalogues).

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.)
    In the area of social rehabilitation: social worker, social worker assistant, special pedagogue or a person with completed secondary education and a certificate from a social rehabilitation training (150 hours).
    Health care rehabilitation: university education in physiotherapy, nurses with a certificate on pleoptycs and orthoptycs and with completed university education.
  2. Please describe how rehabilitation professionals are trained. Does training emphasise meeting needs on an individual basis?
    Yes – individual needs are strongly emphasised. The trainings are carried out applying theory as well as practice and supervision.
  3. Does professional training incorporate human rights perspectives?
    Yes
  4. Additional comments on professional training
    n/a

Your Organisation

  1. Does your organisation represent both blind and partially sighted people in your country?
    Yes
  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.
    Anyone with a visual impairment or his/her closest family can become a member of UNSS. However the provision of social services (counselling and rehabilitation) is not membership-based i.e. any person with VI can receive these services (E.G. mobility and orientation training, daily living skills training, training on the use of assistive technology etc. …).
  3. Is this strictly applied, or is there more flexibility in practice?
    Flexibility applied
  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.
    In order to obtain social rehabilitation services VI people in most cases turn either to the UNSS (provides out-reach services) or the Rehabilitation Centre for VI in Levoca (providing residential-based services). Some services are also provided by specialized counselling centres at the elementary schools for VI children at Bratislava and Levoca.
  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
      yes – participating at discussions related to social legislation + developing own standards for the provision of social services
    • b. monitoring of implementation
      Yes
    • c. actions to ensure that dedicated services are in place that meet the distinct needs of blind and partially sighted people.
      Yes
    • d. actual provision of services to blind and partially sighted people and the rights that people with visual impairment have to services.
      yes – also informing VI people about their rights during the social counselling process
  6. Is there an officer or expert appointed in your organisation to work on partial sight matters? Please describe.
    Yes
  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.)
    Cooperating/networking with other institutions, participating at the preparation of new social legislation, participating on various conferences and meetings related to the quality of social services and lobbying.
  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.)
    There are various information channels that are used to raise awareness:
    UNSS website, newsletter, internal magazine Dúha (Rainbow), various mailing-lists, magazine about VI for the mainstream society, leaflets about provided services placed at medical centres and FB pages and groups and information campaigns (E.G. the White Pencil Day).
  9. How does your organisation inform others about the available habilitation and rehabilitation and support services for blind and partially sighted people?
    See answer above and additionally informing through the media.
  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?
    Carrying out awareness-raising events and workshops, participating at conferences, opthalmologists’ meetings and presentations.
  11. Is your organisation involved in the Vision 2020 initiative in your country?
    No
  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?
    Yes being informed – however UNSS staff more relies on resources in Slovak or Czech (mostly summarizing the same issues on low-vision).
  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.
    Financial support to carry out relevant trainings, to improve the quality of provided individualized services.
  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 )
      yes – no legislation changes within the last 5 years
    • b. The situation has worsened (explain why and how)
    • c. The situation has improved (explain why and how)
  15. Is further action needed in your country? If yes, please explain what needs to be done.
    Yes – improving capacities and the regional availability and equality of services (i.e. so that social services for VI have the same quality in each region – within the whole country).
  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.
    Standards on the quality of social services in Slovakia – social service providers are obliged to follow these standards which are related to several criteria and quality indicators.