Tag Archives: Austria

Filipino PWDs this January 2019

The onset of the year has been promising for persons with disabilities in the Philippines.

For one, the education department’s secretary has called on them to register.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones has issued this in DepEd Order No. 3 series of 2018. The Early Registration, which is based on the “Basic Education Enrollment Policy,” covers incoming kinder, grade 7 and grade 11 learners in public schools. Out-of-school children (OSC) and youth (OSY) in the community are also invited as well as those living in an off-grid community, in a barangay without a school, in a geographically isolated area, in an armed conflict area, in an area with high level of criminality/drug abuse, in conflict with the law, and on the streets.

Those displaced due to natural disaster could also register even the victims of child abuse or economic exploitation, stateless or undocumented, and those who are no longer in school but interested in going back to schools.

Letting persons with disabilities study alongside non-PWDs has been my suggestion since February 19, 2016 when I’ve written about Austria and how it’s taking care of PWDs in the country. It has legislated integrative schooling in 1993 during the first eight years of a child. This is also what is being observed in Spain and Malaysia.

The PWD Forum has pushed for the integration of special education in the basic and secondary curriculum in the country. It has reiterated that after The PWD Forum turned one in the blogosphere and even after it turned twoThe PWD Forum has also made a case on the necessity, benefit, and practicality of sign language if only it is taught to every one.

In the Philippines, this has been the case at the Carmona National High School (CNHS) in Cavite. Education is an equalizer, pointed by Atty. Liza D. Corro, chancellor of University of the Philippines-Cebu, in a post.

The government has also implemented the value-added tax (VAT) exemption on sale of medicines—regardless of brands—for diabetes, high cholesterol,  and hypertension as mandated by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act, or TRAIN law.

And, most important of all, the law that could provide affordable mental health services for Filipinos–the Mental Health Law (Republic Act 11036)–has been signed after more or less 28 years. It could secure the rights and welfare of persons with mental health needs, provide services for them even in barangays, improve mental healthcare facilities, and promote mental health education in schools and workplaces.

“Disability is one of the many forms in which human life occurs: it should be accepted as such and the people concerned should not be excluded in any way from participating in society.” ~ Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs in co-operation with Österreichische Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Rehabilitation

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of GMA Public Affairs

Help in Austria

It counsels persons with disabilities (PWDs) till they get to be able to live independent lives. It supports them “no matter what kind of disability they have” till they get to be engaged in an inclusive society. It is the BIZEPS, the first center advocating independent living in Austria.

“BIZEPS is the name of the organization,” said Markus Ladstätter, board member of BIZEPS, in an online interview. “One of our core values is that the people who are in charge at our center have disabilities themselves. In fact, most of our coworkers have disabilities.”

The Zentrum für Selbstbestimmtes Leben, as its name goes in Austria, literally translates to “center for independent living.” It does so by trying to convince the legislators in the country to adopt rules and laws that would protect PWDs from discrimination and push inclusion.

“Furthermore, we have the leading news website for daily news about disability topics in German language in Austria.”

BIZEPS was founded in 1994 by PWDs who used to participate in disability movements themselves. It is modeled after the International Independent Living Movement after the members met in the autumn of 1990.

“We are a cooperative of persons with various impairments that have set them the goal to fight through the political process for a barrier-free, inclusive society in which each and every one can live an independent life in the community of all people.” ~ BIZEPS

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of WheelzOfFortune

Sensory Impairments in Austria

Out of the 8, 441, 872 Austrians, about 8,600 are totally blind, 13,200 are almost blind, 400,000 are hearing-impaired, and 28,300 people are speech-impeded.

This 450, 100 persons with disabilities (PWDs), though, cannot just fit in Austria “because of a dearth of communication facilities.”

Visual impairment is the impairment of the sense of sight. Speech disorder is characterized by stuttering and lisps, while hearing impairment is a hearing loss that prevents a person from totally receiving sounds through the ear.

Vision could be strengthened through the use of software programs that can read text on a computer screen with a speech synthesizer. This is the screen reader, which is the interface between the computer’s operating system, its applications, and the user. The user just has to press different combinations of keys on the computer keyboard to instruct the speech synthesizer what to say. It could also allow users to locate text displayed in a certain color, read pre-designated parts of the screen on demand, read highlighted text, identify the active choice in a menu, use the spell checker in a word processor, and read the cells of a spreadsheet.

Screen readers are currently available for use with personal computers running Linux, Windows, Mac, IOS, and Android. They can be for free or cost as much as $1,200. Each, however, incorporates a different command structure, and most support a variety of speech synthesizers.

Aside from screen readers, there is also the screen magnification system, which—just like a magnifying glass—enlarges text and graphics on a computer screen; video magnifier or closed-circuit television system (CCTV), which does the same thing as the screen magnification system but under a camera; optical character recognition (OCR) software, which transforms print into alternative formats; and Braille printers, which embosses through the use of solenoids that control embossing pins.

Speech, on the other hand, could be reinforced by an array of computer software packages such as the First Words, which is a program that uses graphic presentations combined with synthesized speech to teach high-frequency nouns. The website Enabling Devices also contains a list (with illustrations!) of innovative assistive technology for speech-impaired or non-verbal individuals.

Hearing could be improved, too, with the MotionSavvy UNI, “the world’s first two-way communication software for the deaf” that can translate American Sign Language (ASL) into speech, and speech into text. There’s also the Solar Ear, designed with the 360 million people with a disabling hearing loss that live in low- to- middle-income countries in mind.

Solar Ear is a solar-powered hearing aid battery that lasts for two to three years. It also costs a fraction of what traditional batteries cost. Another device, ISEEWHATYOUSAY, can capture spoken language on a smartphone, converts it into text, and sends the text via Bluetooth to a remote user’s device.

“A person who is severely impaired never knows his hidden sources of strength until he is treated like a normal human being and encouraged to shape his own life.” ~Hellen Keller

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Jonathan Cowper


A year after the Austrian Federal Government passed its Disability Concept, integrative schooling for disabled and non-disabled children during the first eight years of schooling has been thought of in the School Act passed in 1993 and 1996.

The Austrian Federal Constitution was even amended to protect persons with disability (PWDs) in the country against discrimination!

These being the case, PWDs and non-PWDs alike are guaranteed equal treatment in Austria. The Federal Ministry for Social Administration has also thought of the rehabilitation concept, which dealt primarily with issues of rehabilitation, advice for disabled people and the principles of “sheltered workshops.”

In Austria, “persons who are threatened with a permanent and substantial physical, mental or emotional impairment in an area of social relationship in the foreseeable future are also regarded as disabled.” These social relationships are child-rearing, education, employment, other occupations, communication, living and leisure activities.

“Institutional stays” are not encouraged in Austria; pensions or care benefits would be only approved once all forms of rehabilitation have been exhausted. There is even a central appliances advice bureau set up by the Provincial Invalid Office for Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland to maintain comprehensive, computerized documentation on all the appliances available in the marketplace for disabled people. The Austrian Standardisation Institute would be the one responsible with the technical issues through “a permanent specialist standards committee” that consists of experts, representatives of organisations for disabled people, and the appliance advice centre.

Austria believes that “integration into society can therefore be most likely to succeed if disabled and non-disabled people learn to live together right from early childhood.” As such, the Federal Government intends to (1) replace tax allowances for disabled people with deductible amounts or direct cash benefits; (2) provide the national fund for special assistance for disabled people with adequate financing; and (3) ensure that disabled people have access to information and counselling.

“Disability is one of the many forms in which human life occurs: it should be accepted as such and the people concerned should not be excluded in any way from participating in society.” ~ Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs in co-operation with Österreichische Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Rehabilitation

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of UniCredit Bank Austria AG