1. What legislative measures are being taken in your country to facilitate the mobility of people with disabilities in general? (Accessibility of roads, transport, buildings) when should they apply?
The Austrian Disability Equality Act (BGBl. I Nr. 82/2005) and the National Action Plan (NAP 2012-2020, July 24th, 2012) contain measures which are also referring to mobility/accessibility. Unfortunately, every region has its own regulations in the field of construction, which makes it very heterogeneous. An Austrian initiative is at the moment trying to harmonise these laws.
2. Are there specific measures for the visually impaired? If so, describe them briefly.
There are no specific measures regulated by law but a lot of measures, e.g. tactile systems, speaking beacons, are very common. Also there are several other measures for example in the field of transport, e.g. price reductions for the blind.
3. How are these measures implemented? Are visually impaired Associations associated with their application? If so, how?
Blind Unions and related organisations are very active in Austria. They are in vivid contact with the state and private stakeholders. However, they are not involved consequently enough.
4. Have they already produced tangible results?
Yes, in a number of projects.
5. What are the penalties for non-application of the above measures?
It is possible to sue the company/organisation and the plaintiff can receive financial compensation, but no measures have to be taken to improve the situation in question, which is very unsatisfying.
B. TRAVEL AID
6. What are the main technical aids used by visually impaired people in your country for mobility: long cane, optical aids, electronic aids, GPS?
Long cane, optical aids, electronic aids, GPS.
6.1. How are they distributed?
In addition to a variety of private companies, technical aids are available in a specialised store run by the Viennese regional association of the Austrian Federation of the Blind and Partially Sighted.
6.2. Is training provided during their acquisition?
6.3. How are they funded in the acquisition?
There are subsidies from the state and the regions, but they vary by region.
6.4. How are guaranteed and financed repairs, maintenance?
Maintenance is also subsidised.
6.5. Is the white cane recognized as a symbol of visual impairment? If yes, specify the conditions related to its attribution, sanctions in cases of abuse, specific provisions regarding its use.
Yes. However, it is not compulsory for blind people to use the cane or to use another form of labelling. People using the long cane on the streets are excluded from the "principle of trust" according to the Austrian road traffic act.
7. Is research conducted in your country to develop new assistive devices? If yes, please specify. How are visually impaired people associated with this research?
C. LOCOMOTION TRAINING
8. How are visually impaired people in your country trained in mobility? (Specify training in the regular school or specialized in functional rehabilitation for people who lose their sight as adults, in the context of structures for the elderly.)
In Austria, there are several service providers who are in charge of the Orientation and Mobility training for people of every age. The Austrian Federation of the Blind and Partially Sighted together with its Regional Associations is helping to connect blind and partially sighted people with O&M trainers.
9. What is the training undertaken by mobility instructors? Is it recognized by an official certificate? If yes, specify briefly the content of the training. Is there any on-the-job training for mobility instructors?
Only people with a job in the social sector can apply to become a M&O trainer. This training is either taking place in Germany or Switzerland but not in Austria, therefore there is no official certificate in Austria.
D. AUTONOMY IN DAILY LIFE
10. Help with daily life: how are the visually impaired in your country trained to be autonomous in daily life?
Individual courses are offered by a variety of organisations, including the Regional Associations of the Austrian Federation of the Blind and Partially Sighted.
11. Is there specific support? If so by which professionals is it provided and in what context? What is the training of these professionals?
Professionals are not trained in Austria.
12. Does your country have training for instructors in autonomy? Is there a certificate recognized by the State?
E. PUBLIC INFORMATION AND PROFESSIONALS
13. Is the public informed of the mobility needs of visually impaired people? If yes, by whom and how.
Blind unions and their partner organisations are trying to raise awareness in the public by various projects and through a number of channels, but many specific problems regarding the mobility of blind and partially sighted people are simply not commonly known. These are for example problems regarding the “shared space” concept or electronic cars.
14. Do professionals who interact with visually impaired people have any specific training or awareness training concerning visual impairment?
It depends on the field they are working in.