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 Construction Law of 1994 requires new houses to be adjusted to fit the needs of persons with disabilities. This Act is also obligatory when a building is reconstructed. The stipulations mainly concern the needs of persons with a motor impairment. There is also an act on railroads that stipulates that platforms have to be adjusted to meet the needs of persons with disabilities i.e. tactile marking. Also the governmental measure concerns traffic lights and acoustic signals used.
2. Are there specific measures for the visually impaired? If so, describe them briefly.
The general situation of persons with disabilities Is reflected in the Act on Rehabilitation of 1997 which regulates the situation of persons with disabilities in Poland.
3. How are these measures implemented? Are visually impaired Associations associated with their application? If so, how?
Organisations working for persons with a visual impairment can be invited to take part in consultations. These consultations are not required by law. The situation is being changed as it occurs that regulations concerning modernisation of new streets, for instance, should include the recommendation of an organisation for persons with the visual impairment. In fact, there are social committees of persons with disabilities run by municipalities that have an advisory role.
4. Have they already produced tangible results?
The Polish Association of the Blind as well as other organisations have produced a number of publications that may be taken into consideration whilst building new roads or facilities. These documents may serve as complementary documentation. In fact, the choice whether to apply these solutions is dependent on the authority or organisation. There are examples of new roads or other facilities that are not accessible for the visually impaired.
5. What are the penalties for non-application of the above measures?
Unless specified otherwise, no such penalties are imposed. A visually impaired person may in fact file a complaint which might be taken into account.
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?
Usually, it is a white cane which is used by a blind person. A partially sighted person may carry a cane for security purposes. Blind people are entitled to have a guide dog but dogs are not popular in Poland. Also, visually impaired people may use complementary tools which do not replace a white cane such as gps navigator or applications integrated with an internal GPS of a mobile phone.
6.1. How are they distributed?
According to the amended act, a blind person may buy 2 canes per year with the governmental support. In other cases, the cane is purchased by the person and paid from his/her resources. Guide dogs are not financed by state or local authorities and are sponsored by donors. There are various programs to overcome communication barriers that a VI person is entitled to but due to financial difficulties these are limited. It sometimes happens that one has to wait a long time to have the application prossesed successfully.
6.2. Is training provided during their acquisition?
No such training is available, however, such training is offered to children or newly blind grown-ups. If someone obtains a guide dog, he/she may take part in the training dependent on the organisation that gives a guide dog for a blind person.
6.3. How are they funded in the acquisition?
No such fund is available.
6.4. How are guaranteed and financed repairs, maintenance?
These expenses have to be covered by an individual.
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.
Generally yes. The majority is aware of this but only the minority knows how to use it properly.
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?
A Polish GPs navigator has been produced and it meets the needs of blind people. There are a number of Internet publications indicating how to use assistive technologies and the information is accessible for those who want to find it.
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.)
Children or students in special schools are trained in mobility. Others may get such training via different training programmes offered by the Polish Association of the Blind and its local units as well as by other organisations that operate for the persons with a visual impairment. Also, the Polish Association of the Blind runs a rehabilitation centre for newly blind people and course participants learn the basics of mobility.
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?
Such training is not recognised by any form of state certificate. A graduate of the mobility training may obtain a certificate or an information about completing such course is provided for people responsible for that person, e.g. special school teachers. Mobility instructors gain their knowledge during graduate or post-graduate university courses that prepare them to work with persons with the visual impairment.
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?
Children who learn in special schools learn basic skills and thus are prepared to be autonomous in daily life. Also, organisations working for persons with a visual impairment run courses in daily activities. Training for newly blind people prepare them to be independent in life exists.
11. Is there specific support? If so by which professionals is it provided and in what context? What is the training of these professionals?
Such support is not guaranteed by law. There are local initiatives that foster activity of persons with disabilities. In Warsaw, for example, any disabled person may benefit from assistive services. This is an assistant for a person with disability. Such assistant may help him/her in shopping, sorting private documentation, going for a walk or in any other activities. A disabled person does not have one assistant for a period of time but the person to assist is selected upon availability.
12. Does your country have training for instructors in autonomy? Is there a certificate recognized by the State?
No such certificate is issued but trainings might be organised. Also, special teachers are trained to support autonomy of the visually impaired during graduate or post-graduate university courses.
E. PUBLIC INFORMATION AND PROFESSIONALS
13. Is the public informed of the mobility needs of visually impaired people? If yes, by whom and how.
Social campaigns inform about the needs of persons with disabilities. Also, websites of organisations inform about the needs of their beneficiaries.
14. Do professionals who interact with visually impaired people have any specific training or awareness training concerning visual impairment?
No such training is required. It depends on a company whether to organise such training for its staff.