The Polish Association of the Blind has existed for 70 years!

Key dates:

16,17 June 1951 – the first unifying convention of the two organizations of Polish Blind Soldiers and Polish Association of Blind Workers was held in Poland. From that moment, the Polish Association of the Blind (PZN) was established, which functions under an unchanged name until now.

1952 – the Association founded the Central Library of the Polish Association of the Blind (PZN), which catered to the reading needs of the blind in Poland.

1952 - the Department of Tyflography of the PZN of began printing textbooks in Braille for elementary and secondary school students.

1956 – the seat of the Central Centre for the Blind was established at ul. Konwiktorska 9 in Warsaw. It is the seat of the management of the Association to this

day and also found here: the Typhlological Institute, the Library, the print shop and Tyflogallery, as well as the concert hall, which serves for cultural events, conferences and meetings of representatives from all over the country.

1956 - the first Rehabilitation Center was established in Muszyna in the mountains for 82 people.

1961 – a recording studio was established in the PZN and recording of spoken books on reel-to-reel tapes began.

1965 – the Department of Basic Rehabilitation for persons newly darkened is established  in Warsaw in the day system.

1966 – guide dog training began.

1966 – the  Magazine „Pochodnia”began to be published in enlarged print. Already in 1948, the first issue of the Magazine Pochodnia was published in Braille and „Pochodnia” is published until today in three versions, incuding an electronic one.

1968 – PZN established a Scientific Council to develop rehabilitation for the blind and partially sighted .

1972 – the recording of books on cassette tapes began.

1978 – PZN undertook comprehensive activities for families with blind children aged from 0 to 6 years. It published parenting quides and developed early rehabilitation programs.

1982 – the Main Board of the Polish Association of the Blind created Clubs for Parents of Blind Chiildren, which in time gave rise to Independent Associations of Parents of Blind Children.

1983 – since that year „Przegląd Tyflologiczny”, „Zeszyty  Tyflologiczne”, „Materiały Tyflologiczne” and other non-periodical publications have been published until today.

1983 – in cooperation with the Higher School of Special Education in Warsaw, the development of a model of sight rehabilitation for the partially sighted was started in Poland, which consisted of issuing rehabilitation programmes, training specialist instructors in vision improvement.

1988 – PZN undertook complex activities for blind diabetic patients – registry, rehabilitation stays, diabetes education, publishing, specialist clinics and clubs for blind and partially sighted diabetic patients.

1989 – the first in Poland Outpatient Clinic for Vision Rehabilitation of the Partially sighted was estatblished. PZN undertook activities for the benefit of deaf-blind people-registering this group, organizing rehabilitation stays, cooperation with the Perkins Institute in the USA. On the initiative of PZN the first experimental Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Center of the Day Stay in Warsaw started its activity. It was organized mainly for blind children with additional disabilities. This Center is still in operation today.

1990 – PZN created the Rehabilitation and Training Center in Bydgoszcz and started basic rehabilitation training for newly blinded people from all over the country. Two-week training sessions are still held here today. We also train specialist staff here.

1990 – a complex Residential and Rehabilitation Centre for the Blind and Partially sighted in Olsztyn in Masuria was opened. Currently there are:

- Social Aid House for 110 people

- 3 Daily Residence Centers for 170 people

- Vocational Activity Center where 56 blind people are employed and prepared for work on the open labour market.

There are 150 blind and partially sighted people with their families who have housing problems living in the Center permanently. There is also a therapeutic clinic with rehabilitation, a shop, a chapel, a laundry and a tailor’s unit. There is a gym and a large common room, rehabilitation stays also take place. It is the biggest multifunctional complex in Poland for people from all over the country. The Center is surrounded by a beautiful, large garden with walking paths for the blind and partially sighted .

1991 – Medical and Rehabilitation Centre was opened in Ciechocinek. Currently it functions as a sanatorium for 100 people.

1992 – The Centre for blind and partially sighted Children was opened in Rudołtowice, Silesia. Currently, the facility is called Polish Association of the Blind Educational,Treatment and Rehabiliation Center for Children and Youth.

1992 – another success. Medical and Rehabilitation Centre was opened by the sea in Ustronie Morskie. Currently it functions for 180 people.

1993 – The 4th EBU General Assembly took place in the Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Centre „KOS” in Ustroń Zawodzie in mountains. It was attended by representatives of blind organizations from 45 countries. Among other things a resolution was passed that October 15 be celebrated as International White Cane Day.

1993 – since 1993 until today, the editions of magazines for children and young people („Promyczek” and „Światełko”) appear in enlarge print.

1993 – Social Aid House was established in Kielce. Currently if functions for 50 blind people.

1995-2001 – In those years PZN opened Vocational Therapy Workshops for the blind in Toruń, Słupsk and Włocławek. These workshops prepare these people for work on the open labour market. Later three more Vocational Therapy Workshops were established, run by provincial units.

2001 – PZN set up a Special School and Educational Centre for blind and partially sighted Youth in Chorzów for children and young people.

2004 – the process of digitizing of the Library’s collection began.

2005 – Pope John Paul II was honoured with a gold badge of the PZN. Blind and partially sighted people received a blessing from the Pope conveyed in a letter to PZN.

2006 – another Vocational Activity Center was established, run by the regional unit of the Association for 60 people.

2007 – an online lending library of spoken books was launched at the Central Library of the PZN.

2008 – PZN hosted the President of WBU, Dr. William Rowland, who visited our facilities.

2009 – The International White Cane Day was celebrated under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Poland – Lech Kaczyński. The blind were honored with state decorations at the Belvedere Palace by the First Lady of the Republic of Poland – Maria Kaczyńska. The guest of honour was EBU President Lord Collin Low.

2010 – the publishing of PZN magazines „Promyczek”, „Pochodnia”, „Światełko” and „Nasze Dzieci” in an electronic version has started. These magazines are for adults, children and teenagers.

2011 – the publishing in electronic version of the biweekly „Biuletyn Informacyjny Pochodni”has started.

2011 – the Pope Benedict XVI was honoured with a gold badge of the PZN. The leadership of the Association, along with a group off 40 people, participated in a direct audience at the Vatican.

2011 – for the first time ever blind people were able to vote using various facilities for the blind (a Braille overlay on the ballot paper).

2014 – a new Scientific Council was established at the Typhlological Institute of the PZN.

2015 – a workshop for sighted people of all ages called “Laboratorium Ciemności” began at the PZN Typhlogallery. It is a specific form of social education on how blind and partially sighted people cope and how to help them.

2015 - President of the Republic of Poland – Andrzej Duda and the First Lady of the Republic of Poland – Agata Kornhauser-Duda participated in the reading of “Lalka” in Braille at the PZN Typhlogallery as part of the national reading.

2016 – on the initiative of PZN, for the first time in history, The Parliamentary Team for People with Vision Impairment Impaired Persons was created.

2016 – in the Presidential Palace under the patronage of President of the Republic of Poland – Andrzej Duda and the First Lady of the Republic of Poland, celebration were held on the occasion of the International White Cane Day, as part of the 65th anniversary of the PZN “W służbie pokoleń” and the 70th anniversary of the Union of the Blind Movement in Poland. State decorations were presented to many activists and employees of the Association.

2016 – The President of the Republic of Poland appointed the President of the PZN to the National Development Council, Section for Social Policy and Family.

2017 – the President of the Republic of Poland, Andrzej Duda, appointed the Committee for the National Celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Poland’s Independence and handed the nomination to the President of the PZN.

2018 – at the request of the Prime Minister, the National Accessibility Council was established. Its member is the President of the PZN. The Council works until today. It is an expert and advisory body inspired by the US Access Board and working together for accessibility.

2019 – as part of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Poland’s Independence, PZN organized a concert and was awarded the diploma of the President of the Republic of Poland.

2019 – PZN in partnership with the Bank organized 11 concerts in the dark throughout the country to sensitize sighted people to the needs of partially sighted people.

2020 – for the first time in history, a blind person has been appointed the Government Plenipotentiary for Disabled People.

Since March 2020, many of our specialist institutions have been closed due to the pandemic. We were forced to develop new forms of support with the use of modern technologies. Many training courses, seminars and conferences are held online.

In 1951, the blind in Poland created a membership organization (PZN), which is the largest in Poland until today. They also manage it. The organization is a spokesman for the blind and partially sighted people. It currently has 40,000 members. About 1,000 people join the organization annually.

We are a very important employer. We employ blind and partially sighted people as well as rehabilitation specialists - 1100 people all over the country.

We obtain financial resources for our operations from grants. We run a business ourselves. We have no direct help from the government or other institutions.

We will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the PZN in the following ways:

Due to the pandemic, the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the PZN this year must be adapted to the sanitary regime. We cannot organize a gala live concert or a large conference. We cannot ask the President to grant state decorations or union decorations. Mass events are prohibited. We will use our magazines, the Association’s website and Facebook to celebrate the anniversary.

1.      From the beginning of the year, a large illuminated sign with the logo of the Association „2021 – 70 years of the Polish Blind Association” was installed on the PZN building.

2.      At the entrance to the building of the Association, we have placed a large poster, with information about all the structures of our Association: 16 provinces and 340 districts as well as specialized institutions throughout the country.

3.      We prepare exhibitions on rehabilitation, employment, trade union publications, the creation of the Library, the most important events as well as archive photos.

4.      We also plan to honour the memory of selected people - artists with visual disabilities, social activists, specialists who have contributed to the improvement of the quality of life for blind and partially sighted people in Poland;

5.      We are preparing a short publication containing the most important information, referring to the 70th anniversary of the activity of the Polish Association of the Blind.

6.      We are preparing 7 short films in which partially sighted people will play, giving practical advice to other people who have not yet been in the environment of persons with visual impairment. The themes of these films will be, for example: the reading of partially sighted people, safety at home and at work; safe travel etc.

7.      The First „Euro Low-Vision Song-Contest”; we have joined as a Partner is also dedicated to the celebration of the 70th anniversary. The organizer of the festival is the Belgian organization VIEWS and the German Association of the Blind.

8.      We are preparing a publication about people who were key figures in the Association - a reminder of their profiles.

9.      An article about our publishing achievements over these 70 years (Typhlological publications, rehabilitation programs) will be published in our magazine “Pochodnia”.

10.    The guide for parents will include historical materials reminiscing about the creation of this publication (37 years ago) and what has changed in the approach to children's rehabilitation and education, in the approach of parents

11.    A tab will be created on the main website of the Association, which will contain materials prepared by various departments of the Typhlological Institute (eg calendar of events).

12.    We announced a competition for teenagers in children's magazines entitled "Me in 20 years." The authors of the three best works will receive prizes. We will publish the winning texts in a children's magazine.