Poland - Article 7

Preliminary issues

1.    In your country, is there, following legislative measures, a national register that systematically receives data and other useful information pertaining to all children and young persons with a visual impairment of 0-18 years of age (or a register operating according to different age criteria)?

Yes, there are registers prepared for various purposes, e.g. a register of students with disabilities in education and those entitled to fringe benefits.
1.1 If yes, what are the criteria, if any, related to degree of sight loss, age or other conditions related to vision, or any other preconditions for being admitted to the register?

There are general criteria that qualify any person as a person with the visual impairment or not. These refer to visual accuity, and a field of vision as well as eye diseases. As for adults, the person may be recognised as disable for definite or indefinite time period.

A child is recognised as a person with disability in the case of inate or acquired visual impairment that results in : lowering visual accuity in the better eye to 5.25 or 0,2 according to the Snellen scale when appropriate visual aids are used. Another premis to recognise a child as a person with a disability is the decrease of the visual field to 30°

1.2 If there is a register, but not based on legislative measures, what is the basis for the establishment and running of such a register?
In Poland, persons up to the age of 16 are recognised as persons with disability with no disability level specified. People at the age of 16 or older, are recognised as persons with disability and classified to one of the following categories: severe, moderate or light disability level. A disability certificate is necessary for receiving fringe benefits, education or required by organisations associating its members.

2.    Please give:

2.1.     The number of children and young persons up to and including 18 years of age in your country with a visual disability.

According to the information from the Main Statistical Bureau drafted in 2011, the numbers are following:

Children from 0 to 16 – 362100 and between 15 and 19 – 25400.

According to the data collected by Polish Association of the Blind at the end of 2015,

The number of children with the visual impairment from 0 to 16 is 2592  

The number of visually impaired young people from 17 to 24  is 2007.

This discrepancy is due to our principles that membership in our organisation is only for persons with the severe and moderate level of disability. Also, membership in Polish Association of the Blind is not compulsory and the organisation has approximately fifty thousand members, including adults.

2.2.     The percentage compared with non-disabled children and young persons.

n/a

2.3.     The percentage based on the number of inhabitants in your country.

There are approx 38 million inhabitants in Poland.

3. Please if possible indicate the specific numbers within the total amount indicated above with additional disabilities.
Polish Association of the Blind has approximately fifty thousand members. The number of the visually impaired with additional disabilities constitutes 1/3 of its members. We assume that the number of visually impaired children with additional disabilities may rise to half of the number of them registered in our organisation.

Section A. National Disability strategies

1.    Is there in your country according to legislative provisions an adopted national disability strategy?

Yes, The official document that regulates various provisions related to persons with disabilities is An Act on Vocational and Social Rehabilitation and Employment of Persons with Disabilities of 27 August, 1997 with subsequent amendments. This document regulates issues related to disability certificates, employment, etc. Also an Act of Ministry for Education regulates the questions related to children with disabilities and their inclusive education.

If a disability strategy is adopted based on other rules or decisions than legislation, please indicate these.

According to ratification of the UNCRPD by Poland in 2012, work is being done to implement various provisions of the Convention.

2.    Does your organization participate in preparing national disability strategies?

Yes, In the matters related to the UNCRPD

3.    Are children and young persons included in such existing national disability strategies?

Yes, In the matters related to the UNCRPD

3.1.     If no: Is your organization striving to ensure that this is improved?

N/A

4.    Has there been any type of national conference or similar coordinated gathering with the goal of focusing on children and young persons with disabilities / specifically children and young persons with a visual impairment within the last five years?

Yes

4.1.     If yes, what was the theme for the conference held?

Organised on May 15th, 2015 by the Ministry for Education, the national conference dealt with changes in mainstream education to support children with disabilities. On that conference Polish Association of the Blind presented joint report that included feetback from mainstream teachers, participants of trainings to support mainstream school teachers that had been financed by Perkins International.

Section B. Support from the local part of society towards families with children with a visual impairment.

European countries are to a large extent heading towards an educational system in which all children and young persons have access to inclusive education taking place in mainstream schools and other inclusive social measures. Hence, it is required that the society must offer support to children and young persons with a visual disability as well as to their families.

1.    Is there in your country legislation or other requirements that ensures collaboration amongst social, health and educational authorities with a purpose to coordinate information and proper measures?

n/a

2.    Is there specific legislation in your country that guarantees that families with children or young persons with disabilities / a visual impairment receive support from the national or local authorities?

Polish State Fund for Rehabilitation distributes financial resources to local governmental agencies that are spent in various programmes. The programme particularly addressed to disabled individuals is “an Active Self-Governance” to support various initiatives: purchase of computers and special equipment for young people that receive education and adult, purchase or adaptation of aids for people with motor impairment (mainly young people and adults, financial assistance to parents with disabilities to remain in employment, etc. The means are distributed through communes or other bodies responsible for local government.

Also various rehabilitation camps are financed. Parents of students with disabilities may benefit from the governmental programme to support visually impaired students. This programme covers costs related to education: e.g. school textbooks in large print. etc. The scope of financing is different each year.

3.    What kind of support is in your country offered on a central and/or local level?

 

3.1.     Are there national institutions that offer special competence and knowledge or other agencies that offer counselling and support to parents with children and young persons with a disability, including children and young persons with visual disabilities?

Yes.

3.2.     If yes, where does the responsibility lie for running such facilities, taking the initiative making the first contact with the parents, gathering experience and knowledge etc., at national or local level?

Counseling services to support children and young people with the visual impairment and their parents. They also gather knowledge and register children with disabilities. The Ministry for Education also covers costs related to adaptation of books and didactic materials for children with disabilities.

3.3.     Do these facilities also deal with / offer appropriate technical assistive devices?

No, assistive devices can be purchased from programs financed by Polish State Fund for Rehabilitation which distributes financial resources to local governmental bodies responsible for conducting the programme.

3.4.     Who is responsible for updating knowledge and information?

Bodies or organisations responsible for running a particular activity or task.

4.    Are there coordinated private initiatives, where parents with children and young persons with disabilities / visual disabilities may obtain consultation and support (for example, advice, counselling, and assistive devices for pedagogical / educational purposes)?

Yes, organisations of parents of blind children, according to our information, there are five such organisations in Poland.

5.    Are there any magazines, newsletters or publications financed by public resources or private funding specifically for:
 

5.1.     Employees/personnel that work on a daily basis with children and/or young persons with a disability / with a visual  impairment

Yes

5.2.     Children and young persons with a disability / visual  impairment

Yes, Promyczek (a monthly magazine for young children with the visual impairment up to the age of 12 years): www.promyczek.pzn.org.pl

Swiatelko (a monthly magazine for adolescents with the visual impairment): www.swiatelko.pzn.org.pl

5.3.     Parents to children and young persons with a disability / visual disability?

Yes, Nasze Dzieci (a quartely magazine addressed to parents and teachers of children with the visual impairment) www.naszedzieci.pzn.org.pl

Also, there is a range of magazines published for the Blind, mainly in the electronic version e.g. Pochodnia (a bimonthly magazine for the Blind) www.pochodnia.pzn.org.pl and an Information Newsletter published by the same organisation.

Periodicals for children and for adults are published in Polish in large print, Braille and an electronic version.

6.    Are there any leisure activities available specially developed and adapted for children and/or young persons with visual disabilities?

Yes

6.1.     If yes: who is responsible for maintenance and the management?

An organisation responsible for running such activity.

7.    In your country, is there an arrangement either constituted by legal requirements or established on a voluntary basis, through which children and young persons with a disability / visual disability may have the right to:

7.1.     Sighted guides / company?

Yes / - the programme “Assistant of a person with disability” is for example conducted in Warsaw. According to its principles, a person with disability may call for such assistant to help him/her in daily activities such as going shopping, etc.

7.2.     Financial support?

Yes

7.3.     Transportation to leisure activities?

Not aware.

8. Are there formal or informal opportunities by which children and/or young persons with a visual impairment may meet / spend time together with their peers (children facing the same challenges) and meet mentors / role models?

Yes

8.1.     If yes: who is responsible for running such meeting opportunities?

The organisation responsible for preparing such an event.

9.    Are there any formal or informal opportunities for children and young persons with a visual impairment to meet adults with a visual impairment in order to meet role models / mentors?

Yes.

9.1.     If yes, who is responsible for running such meeting opportunities?

The organisation responsible for preparing such an event.

10.     Are there any formal or informal arrangements by which parents of children and young persons with a visual impairment may meet other families in similar situations?

The organisation responsible for preparing such an event.

Section C. Opportunities for children and young persons with a disability / visual impairment and their organizations to be consulted on issues that involve or concern them.

According to the UNCRPD, children and young persons with a disability are entitled to express their opinion / point of view regarding all issues pertaining to their lives and conditions.

1.    Is there any existing legislation in your country generally, or within the specific social, educational or the health area that ensures that children and young persons with a disability / a visual impairment have the opportunity / right to express their points of view pertaining to their specific situation or to general issues pertaining to disability policies?

No

1.1.     If yes, please specify area and scope of such legislation.

n/a

2.    Do the national organizations of blind and partially sighted persons in your country have a functioning subdivision, wing or independent representative organization with specific focus on issues relating to children and young persons?

Yes, clubs for parents and clubs for young people

3.    Is there any formalized network or organization(s) of parents and relatives of children and young persons with a disability / visual impairment?

No there are nine separate associations of parents

3.1 if yes, when were they set up

These organisations have been founded since 1990s and in the beginning of 1980s, Polish Association of the Blind had made first attempts to associate parents of visually impaired children.
3.2 What is their leadership structure (by parents themselves, by institutions)?
They are managed by parents
3.3 What is their leadership structure (by parents themselves, by institutions)?
Projects/grants and donations

4.    Are there formal or informal forum/opportunities for children, young persons with a visual impairment or their parents through representative bodies to express concerns or points of view on issues that affect them?

Yes Example: a forum concerning inclusive education
 

Glossary

Blind: WHO has established precise criteria for the definition of this term. However, for all practical purposes, we suggest that the term means: Reduced sight to a degree where the person in question has so little residual sight that he/she cannot use vision to read, needs a white cane to undertake mobility and must use a screen reader to access information from the computer.

Children: According to the Convention of the Right of Children this means persons from age 0-18 years, but in this questionnaire the age limits are 0-12 years 

Visually impaired: Includes all persons with a severe  sight loss despite the degree (i.e. blind and partially sighted as defined above).

Local legislation / Authorities: Provisions / authorities that pertain to the specific regions / districts / municipalities.

Mentor: A peer or friend older of age with a visual impairment that may serve as an informal role model (non-professional).

National legislation / authorities: Legislation / authorities that cover the entire country.

Organisations for the blind: organizations / institutions / agencies the mission of which is to provide services or otherwise assist and improve the conditions for persons with a visual impairment.

Organisations of the blind: Representative organizations where the majority of the members and the leadership constitute of persons with a visual impairment.

Partially Sighted: WHO has set out specific criteria for this condition. However, for all practical purposes, we suggest that persons are considered partially sighted, if their vision lies in the area above blindness /see above) and under 1/3 (6/18) of normal sight.

Young persons: In this questionnaire persons of age from 12-18 years of age.