(updated 03/01/2018)

Law and Policy

  1. Is there a legal right to habilitation and rehabilitation services in your country? Please describe relevant laws and give links to further information for:
    • a. Health

      Yes; within the framework of the “General Social Insurance Act” (ASVG) and according to the regional disability laws there is a right to services like mobility training, etc. If legal requirements for habilitation or rehabilitation measures are met, there is an individual right to such measures or benefits from the social insurance provider. There is no difference between sighted and visually impaired people within the ASVG framework. Benefits can differ from case to case, e.g. according to your income.

    • b. Education


    • c. Employment

      Within the ASVG (See a). There is further the law on the employment of persons with disabilities (Behinderteneinstellungsgesetz), which sets a quota for employers as well as a fine if they don’t hire enough PWD. PWD can also make use of assistance at the workplace.

    • d. Social Services

      Within the ASVG (See a)

  2. Is there a legal right to assistive technology, aids and equipment? (i) Blind persons (ii) Partially sighted persons


  3. Do laws on rehabilitation recognise and support participation in all aspects of community life?


  4. Are there policies on habilitation and rehabilitation services for people who are blind or partially sighted?
    • a. For children who are (i) Blind persons (ii) Partially sighted persons
    • b. For adults of working age who are (i) Blind persons (ii) Partially sighted persons
    • c. For older people who are (i) Blind persons (ii) Partially sighted persons

      There are different offers for all three groups, e.g. early education, but they differ from region to region.

  5. Do policies recognise the importance of a personalised multidisciplinary assessment of each individual´s needs and circumstances? Please describe the policies and give web links to more information, for people who are: a. Blind persons b. Partially sighted persons


  6. Are there policies on developing peer support for habilitation and rehabilitation?
    • a. For children (please also include policies on family support) who are (i) Blind (ii) Partially sighted
    • b. For people of working age who are (i) Blind persons (ii) Partially sighted persons
    • c. For older people who are (i) Blind persons (ii) Partially sighted persons

      No; there are a few peer support examples but mostly it’s the respective organisations, like BSVÖ and its regional associations

  7. Are there resources for peer support services?


  8. Do blind and visually impaired people and their organisations fully participate as equal partners in the development of policies and standards for habilitation and rehabilitation services?

    No; there is the possibility of giving recommendations but they are not always taken into account. There are some areas where our regional associations are taking a more active part however, for example in setting standards for mobility training or daily living skills training in Vienna.

Access to Habilitation and Rehabilitation

Support Services

  1. Are there dedicated services for both partially sighted and blind people that meet their distinct needs? Are these habilitation and rehabilitation services focussed on supporting independent living in the community living for people who are:

    Yes; personal assistance in the workplace, early education, mobility training, technical assistance, training sites like SEBUS at BSVÖ, information centres, etc.

  2. What is the full range of services in your country


  3. How is eligibility determined to access habilitation and rehabilitation services for

    You need to have a social security provider and there are usually individual examinations after applying for any services or benefits

  4. Who provides habilitation and rehabilitation services (for example, dedicated blindness and low vision rehabilitation and support centres, hospitals (private and public), NGOs)?

    Organisations for the visually impaired; rehab centres; schools; other NGOs

  5. Are services available locally in all parts of the country?


  6. How are services funded (for example, free, paid for by the user, means tested)?

    It’s a mix: the regions, the insurance providers, the individuals

  7. If services are not free have any problems of affordability been reported?

    Yes; especially for people who are not working their contribution can be very high

  8. Are services available for all age groups: children, adults and older people?

    Yes, but they differ

Access to Equipment and Technologies

  1. The CRPD states that governments should make sure disabled people know about aids, technology and assistive devices and how to use them. How is this done in your country?

    Only through NGOs

  2. What training is provided in the use of equipment and technology?

    Self-payed individual training in service centres (RISS in Linz for example) and training at different organisations

  3. How is eligibility for equipment, technology and training determined?

    See 1

  4. How are aids, equipment and technology funded (for example, free, paid for by the user, means tested)?

    Public support through the regional and national governments (Ministry of Social Services) and social security providers; and private support through organisations

  5. If services are not free have any problems of affordability been reported?

    Yes; especially for unemployed people

  6. Are there any limitations on the choice of equipment? What are these?

    Yes, if they are not necessary for the type of disability and if their prices are unreasonable

Development of the Competence of Professionals

  1. Are there training programmes for rehabilitation professionals? Please describe these (If there is accredited training, the qualifications recognised, where people are trained, to what level etc.)

    Yes but there is no class at university level; for example there is a course on becoming a skilled advisor for people with disabilities

  2. Please describe how rehabilitation professionals are trained. Does training emphasise meeting needs on an individual basis?


  3. Does professional training incorporate human rights perspectives?


  4. Additional comments on professional training

    There is a lack of professional training opportunities and therefore a lack of skilled trainers in all the regions

Your Organisation

  1. Does your organisation represent both blind and partially sighted people in your country?


  2. What are the conditions for someone with visual impairment to become a member of your organisation or use its services? Please be as specific as possible both for blind and partially sighted people.

    Vision of 0,3 or less but sometimes there are exceptions if there are multiple disabilities

  3. Is this strictly applied, or is there more flexibility in practice?

    See above

  4. Is there another organisation that a person with visual impairment can turn to if they cannot affiliate to your organisation or if you cannot meet their needs? Please give as many details as possible.

    Yes but they usually focus more on self-help and free time activities

  5. How is your organisation involved in the implementation of the right to habilitation and rehabilitation support services and programmes for both blind people and people with partial sight? Please give as much detail as possible, especially regarding:
    • a. policies and standards

      BSVÖ is an active partner on government level when it comes to negotiating new laws or standards; however our voice is not always heard

    • b. monitoring of implementation

      See above

    • c. actions to ensure that dedicated services are in place that meet the distinct needs of blind and partially sighted people.

      This is done through our regional associations who cooperate with skilled trainers and the regional governments or other organisations working in the field

    • d. actual provision of services to blind and partially sighted people and the rights that people with visual impairment have to services.

      This is mainly done through our regional associations which are present in all Austrian regions

  6. Is there an officer or expert appointed in your organisation to work on partial sight matters? Please describe.

    No, but there is in the regional associations

  7. What actions is your organisation taking to implement the right to rehabilitation services with dedicated, distinct services for blind people and people who have low vision, and to ensure that these services are/will be available in practice? Please give details (examples: lobbying, cooperation with rehabilitation centres, setting up support services, cooperation with universities to develop specific training for rehabilitation experts etc.)

    Cooperation with hospitals; information events

  8. How does your organisation inform people with visual impairments and the general public about living with blindness and partial sight? (Examples: a website, a national helpline, information stands in hospitals, campaigns, etc.)

    Personal meetings, Website, newsletter, events

  9. How does your organisation inform others about the available habilitation and rehabilitation and support services for blind and partially sighted people?

    Website, newsletter, campaigns, different events, cooperation with other organisations (e.g. seniors’ organisations, hospitals)

  10. In what way is your organisation working with specialised ophthalmologists, optometrists, rehabilitation centres, and teachers, residential homes for older people etc. to prevent, inform and support people with visual impairment?

    Cooperation with a specialised ophthalmologist in some regions as well as rehab centres, teachers, seniors’ organisations, homes, etc.

  11. Is your organisation involved in the Vision 2020 initiative in your country?


  12. Are you familiar with the EBU standards for low vision services in Europe toolkit for implementing the right of partially sighted people to the services they need? How helpful is this resource document?

    Yes, very helpful

  13. What, if any, type of support would you like to have to implement UNCRPD article 26 for blind and partially sighted people? Be as specific as possible.

    Practical assistance by implementing the strategy (training, more information, sharing of best practices)

  14. If you compare the current situation with five years ago, regarding the implementation of the right to rehabilitation services for blind people and for people with partial sight, would you say that in your country:
    • a. nothing has changed (explain )
    • b. The situation has worsened (explain why and how)
    • c. The situation has improved (explain why and how)

      c. The situation has improved but it is still very bureaucratic

  15. Is further action needed in your country? If yes, please explain what needs to be done.

    Centralised information centres should be created because we are lacking data and the general public is lacking information

  16. Please send any articles, material, training, standards, protocols, or links that you feel could perhaps serve your colleagues in other EBU countries aiming at high standards services for everyone with sight loss.