Equal access to national education, vocational training and lifelong learning systems
Educational settings - mainstream education
Education settings - special education
Collaboration between both systems
Teaching of compensatory skills made necessary by vision loss
Provision of accessible text books and other educational material
Provision of assistive technology
1. Equal access to:
1.1. National education system
Equal access is supported by the Slovak Constitution and Educational Act 245/2008.
1.2. National vocational training and lifelong learning systems
Equal access is supported by the Slovak Constitution and by several Acts: (Educational Act 245/2008, Act on Further Education 386/1997, Act on Employment Services 5/2004) and by the Strategy on Lifelong Education (Government Decree 382/2007).
2. Educational settings
2.1. Mainstream education (please specify what support measures if any)
Pupils with visual impairment have the right:
- To education with use of special methods and forms adapted to their needs,
- To the implementation of conditions needed by such education,
- To use special textbooks and education and compensation aids (the Education Act recognizes such rights but does not identify a responsible body)
- To be educated in braille and to get study materials in braille,
- To the assistance of an education assistant, who will help the teacher, will ensure equal opportunities and will help overcome health, communication and other barriers (Education Act 245/2008).
The same as for primary education.
The Comenius University in Bratislava has a support centre for visually impaired students. This centre also provides support to students from other universities and, to a limited extent, to secondary school students. At the Technical University in Kosice there is a similar centre, more oriented to physically impaired students. In many faculties, there is a member of the pedagogical staff responsible for the provision of support to disabled students.
2.1.4. Vocational training and lifelong learning
There are only some project initiatives.
2.2. Special education
The Education Act 245/2008 allows the creation of special schools for different disability groups.
In the Slovak Republic there are two special residential primary schools for blind and partially sighted pupils.
Special secondary schools provide an education which is equivalent to the education received in other secondary schools, to pupils with hearing, sight or physical impairments that cannot be educated in other secondary schools. Within such special schools students are grouped according to the kind of defect which afflicts them.
Special secondary schools are divided into different types: gymnasia and technical secondary schools. Special technical secondary schools and vocational apprentice centres provide education and training in selected fields of education or trades. (source http://www.eurydice.org data 2008 - 2009)
There is one special vocational secondary school for visually impaired youth providing education in handicrafts (basket making, brush making, upholstery) and administration.
The secondary health school in Levoca provides a course for visually impaired masseurs.
There is no special university education for students with visual impairment.
2.2.4. Vocational training and lifelong learning
For adult blind people, the Rehabilitation Centre for the Visually Impaired in Levoca provides basic social rehabilitation, as well as vocational training in physiotherapy, basket making, computer skills and administration. Social rehabilitation courses and computer training are also provided by the Slovak Blind and Partially Sighted Union.
2.3. Collaboration between both systems
In the school year 2007/08 the ratio of pupils with special educational needs to the total number of pupils in compulsory schooling (607 686 pupils) was 7.8 %; pupils educated separately (in a special schools and in a special classes of mainstream schools) was 5.2 % and individually integrated was 2.6 %.
The two special schools each have a special pedagogical counselling centre serving pupils, their parents and teachers.
Collaboration is limited, as there is no responsible body for cooperation on that level. Some support is provided by counselling centres at primary schools and some by the support centre at Comenius University.
2.3.4. Vocational training and lifelong learning
3. Teaching of compensatory skills made necessary by vision loss
3.1. Subjects (Braille, computer, daily-living skills, mobility, etc.)
All those skills are taught at special schools.
The residential rehabilitation centre for the visually impaired provides those courses to adults.
The Slovak Blind and Partially Sighted Union provides training in such skills in its regional centres on a daily basis and as outreach services.
Their provision and financing outside of the school system is regulated by the Act on Social Services 448/2008.
3.2. Training and certificates for visually impaired teachers (Braille, computer, daily-living skills, mobility, etc.)
Training of teachers of the visually impaired is provided by universities (master degree). Certified courses for instructors for special skills are provided by the Slovak Blind and Partially Sighted Union and the Rehabilitation Centre for the Visually Impaired.
3.3. Training and certificates for visually impaired students (Braille, computer, daily-living skills, mobility, etc.)
Training and certificates for students are provided by the Rehablitation Centre for the Visually Impaired, the Slovak Blind and Partially Sighted Union, and for computer skills also by the Support Centre for Visually Impaired Students at the Comenius University.
4. Provision of accessible text books and other educational material
4.1. Provision of the basic documents
Braille textbooks for special primary schools are produced by the Slovak Library for the Blind made-to-order for the Ministry of Education. Due to lack of finances this process is not fully satisfactory. For integrated pupils the situation is even worse. They can use braille books for special schools, if available, but those books are often not the same as those used by their classmates.
4.2. Adaptation and transcription of the documents
There is no institution officially responsible for this. For university students and, to a more limited extent, one part is transcribed by the University Support Centre for Visually Impaired Students, and another part by the Slovak Library for the Blind and by the Slovak Blind and Partially Sighted Union. The support from parents, volunteers and sponsors is important.
5. Provision of assistive technology
5.4. Vocational training and lifelong learning
The following rules apply to all above mentioned levels.
A person with visual impairment is entitled to state financial support to purchase assistive technology (PC, screen reader, enlargement software, CCTV magnifier, brailler...) for personal use (Act 447/2008). The amount of the support (up to 95% of the price) depends on the family income.
If assistive technology is needed to employ of a person with visual impairment, the employer (or self-employer with visual impairment) can use finances from the support provided by the labour office for the creation of sheltered workshops (Act on Employment Services 5/2004).
Special schools are fairly well equipped in assistive technology.
Mainstream schools receive only very limited support for assistive technology for integrated students, and rely also on sponsors and donations. This situation is not satisfactory.