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?
In Slovenia accessibility of roads, transport and buildings are regulated by the following acts and documents: Act of rules in road transport (Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia 109/2010, 30 December 2010), National guidelines to improve built environment, information and communication accessibility for people with disabilities (Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia 113/2005, 16 December 2005), Spatial Management Act (Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia 33/2007, 13 April 2007) and by Action Plan for Persons with disabilities 2007 - 2013 (Ministry of Labour, Family, social affairs and Equal Opportunities, 30 November 2006).
2. Are there specific measures for the visually impaired? If so, describe them briefly.
There are no specific measures for the visually impaired. However, the Act of rules in road transport (Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia 109/2010, 30 December 2010) in article 4 says that Visual impaired people are to be taken care of when/while they are road-users. Blind people who are independently on the road must use a white cane (art. 85) or have a sighted guide.
In addition, visually impaired are entitled to Parking Card for disabled people. With this card their driver can park on specially marked parking lots for disabled people.
According to accessibility of buildings and open space, in Slovenia we are just starting to build up our strategy for introducing guiding systems. In November 2012 the ISO standard ISO/TR 9527:2002 has been introduced in our legislation for guidance in buildings. For the open space design our own document is being prepared, which will follow German guidance in DIN 32984 in means of technical specification for tactile pavers (size of pavers, width and spacing of ribs or cones...). Otherwise the proposed arrangement of guiding patterns in this document will be somewhat different from German, because of different environments and traffic politics. Now we are planning networks of 'safe paths' for blind and partially sighted to provide access to main institutions and public traffic in Slovenian cities and towns. This way we have better review on the use of materials, better price performance and better control over the maintenance.
3. How are these measures implemented? Are visually impaired Associations associated with their application? If so, how?
Associations for visually impaired maintain accurate information about the rights and possibilities for their members and inform their members on regular basis. Union of the Blind and Partially Sighted of Slovenia (hereinafter UBPS) annually publish a leaflet about the right of visually impaired.
4. Have they already produced tangible results?
With rising awareness among people results are coming gradually. But there is still some ignorance among sighted people, as well as parking at parking lots for disabled people without entitled card.
5. What are the penalties for non-application of the above measures?
Concerning the law mentioned above, there are no particular penalties with exception of the penalty for parking in parking lots for the people with disability were penalty for parking without valid parking card is 120 EUR.
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?
Several technical aids are available for the visually impaired. UBPS mainly provides different white canes, especially long canes but it also can order other aids, if this is requested by particular member. Nowadays different audio GPS devices and mobile applications are also available. Users can buy them online or ask for advice, help or for second opinion at UBPS. Guide dogs are also one of travel aids provided to blind people in the country. In Slovenia, there are 24 guide dog users at the moment and 4 more of them are still in training.
Mobility is very important issue in life of each visual impaired person, thus UBPS strives to improve mobility services for its members. Therefore, it collaborates with the few national and international companies in order to develop various useful electronic systems. As the end-user organisation, the Union is taking part in international project Alice, the main objective of which is to provide a navigational assistant with cognitive abilities for ageing visual impaired people.
6.1. How are they distributed?
The aids are distributed by health institutions (Eye Clinics and Health Insurance Institute of Slovenia) and UBPS. Individuals receive the prescription, prescribed by ophthalmologist and then they can get the aid at the UBPS or independently or with the help of UBPS find appropriate one on the market. The same pattern goes for guide dogs, as it is considered as a technical aid.
6.2. Is training provided during their acquisition?
Some training is provided for certain technical aids, but mainly for long white cane. Blind and partially sighted people can get the training at the regional association or the school for blind and partially sighted children. Concerning guide dogs, a blind person has 75 hours of training before the exam that he/she needs to pass.
6.3. How are they funded in the acquisition?
People who are registered blind, are entitled to white canes and ultrasound canes (deaf-blind), which are funded from the basic and supplement health insurance of individual. Other devices for mobility are not covered by this source. Blind people are also entitled to a guide dog once per 6 years.
6.4. How are guaranteed and financed repairs, maintenance?
Repairs and maintenance are not provided. However, the UBPS offers its members help and support for using some technical aids. Mainly mobility aid is still long white cane. Individual are entitled to one white cane a year. If with cane is broken or damaged, UBPS provides a replacement.
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.
In Slovenia, the white cane is recognized as symbol of visual impaired people. An individual who is registered blind according to the definition of blindness, is entitled to a white cane every year on basis of health insurance.
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?
There is no such research done in Slovenia yet.
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.)
As already mentioned above, mobility training for blind and partially sighted people, their family members and volunteers is conducted by regional associations, schools for blind and partially sighted and UBPS, which provides training for organised groups of volunteers, who guide members.
Training is organised on an individual basis – it is adjusted to individual needs, age etc. Usually it takes place in the neighbourhood of the blind person, at the school or at the regional association. The main goal of the training is that the person becomes independent and capable of travelling around his environment safely. Topics that are covered within the training are:
- Understanding of the environment (the scheme of the body, learning about the constant and moving objects in the environment, getting to know the various ground surfaces, the perception of noises and sounds, the perception of scents);
- Training senses (a sense of movement and balance, hearing - sound, noise, echo, type - hand, leg, face and transmit tactile perception, aroma - recognizing different scents, identify areas depending on the destination);
- Walking technique (walking with the sighted guide, independent walking without aids, independent walking with a cane and other devices).
We are all aware of the importance of an efficient rehabilitation process. Therefore Slovenia has recently enacted comprehensive rehabilitation of Blind and visually impaired people, regardless of the cause and age of the individual client.
The comprehensive rehabilitation programme is based on following important foundations:
- Rehabilitation has no effect, unless it is comprehensive;
- Prior to entering rehabilitation, initial expert assessment of the individuals potential is needed;
- The composition of the rehabilitation team must consist of experts from various fields, the client is an equal member of the team;
- The Rehabilitation team prepares an individual rehabilitation program, which depends on the initial assessment and includes all the services from which it is expected to improve the quality of the client's life and his/her ability to live independently;
- The implementation of all services and training for new goals and strategies in individual life;
- Regular maintenance and effective control of all services and programs;
- Mid-term evaluation of the individual rehabilitation plan and, if necessary, its complement or change;
- Final evaluation of the rehabilitation process;
- Reintegration back into a rehabilitation program, when vision is deteriorating again or for other reasons (disease, other circumstances) and when knowledge needs to be upgraded;
- Family and carer training;
- Awareness raising, workplace adjusting and training for colleagues;
- When dealing with children, who are born blind or visually impaired, comprehensive treatment of the entire family is needed (parents, siblings, etc.).
So to speak, Slovenia has all legislative measures for comprehensive rehabilitation. However, in the practice a pilot project has been launched in October, 2012. This project aims to include certain number of clients and the result will have a major impact on further development of this service.
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?
In Slovenia, mobility instructors are teachers of blind and partially sighted, who also carry out individual mobility trainings at the regional associations, at the UBPS or at school for visually impaired. Students, who want to become teachers for the visually impaired, attend the programme at the Faculty of Education at the University of Ljubljana. The programme is 4 years long and it offers basic theoretical knowledge and understating of the areas of fundamental education and rehabilitation of blind and partially sighted. Moreover, students gain practice and competences for testing and assessment of specific needs of visual impaired persons and competences for planning, implementation and evaluation of the programme, skills for team work and other knowledge in selected areas. After graduation the students are awarded BA degree, which is nationally recognised by Slovenian Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (SQAA).
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?
UBPS together with regional associations conducts several programmes, services and activities, which provide different competences for independent life of individuals. After initial training, the visually impaired person receives a visits by an assistant, who helps them to overcome some difficulties in daily life at their homes. For example, he helps them to manage cooking, washing and cleaning to the point when help of an assistant is not needed anymore. Although some people would need regular help, within the assistance programme they however, develop many abilities towards becoming more independent person.
11. Is there specific support? If so by which professionals is it provided and in what context? What is the training of these professionals?
As mentioned above. The assistant get basic visual awareness training, but further training depends on their learning through practice with working with the individual one-to-one.
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.
All organisations for the visually impaired informthe general public through their activities. They organise different events for the public e.g. “Black Bar” (dark place, where sighted people have a drink and try to enjoy dancing and socialising with other people), “Breakfast in the Darkness” (sighted persons having a meal in a totally dark room) etc. Through these events, people learn about the visually impaired. However there is still a lot of ignorance about blindness among sighted people.
14. Do professionals who interact with visually impaired people have any specific training or awareness training concerning visual impairment?
Unfortunately, very few professionals who interact with visually impaired people have specific training or awareness training concerning visual impairment. However, Union of the Blind and Partially Sighted of Slovenia, its regional associations and the School for Blind and Partially Sighted Children conduct some awareness training for certain organised groups (family members, volunteers, teachers and other professionals).