Tag Archives: Poland

ID in Poland

The only certainty is that there had been 130,000 adults with intellectual disabilities in Poland 13 years ago.

And only those with legal disability status—those aged 16 or over—and living in households are included in the figure. Those living in institutions are not counted.

In Poland, the rights of its citizens with intellectual disabilities are guaranteed in its constitution. The country has ratified “most important international human rights instruments,” too, with the exception of the revised European Social Charter and Protocol No. 12 to the ECHR [European Convention on Human Rights].

Still, it has no anti-discrimination legislation that applies specifically to education. Only that the education system is regulated by the Act on the Education System that enables every children and young people with disabilities in Poland to study at any type of school or to individual teaching, curricula and classes.

The assessment procedures for placing PWDs under guardianship are also not sufficient; the courts usually impose plenary, rather than partial, guardianship for people with intellectual disabilities. The PWDs in Poland have no legal support if ever their guardians violate their rights.

There are computer software and devices nowadays that could alleviate the situation, however. Aside from touch screens, interactive whiteboards, and hand-held tablets, generic and tailor-made Apps have already been developed for on-the-merging tablets, most particularly the iPad, to cater to almost every facet of learning, therapy, communication and engagement. These tools and strategies are collectively called AAC [Augmentative and Alternative Communication].

AAC can help students with communication impairments to express themselves. Its ultimate goal is functional communication, self-advocacy and independence.

“Providing real access to education and employment for people with intellectual disabilities is critical to ensuring that they can live and work in the community as equal citizens.” ~Open Society Foundation

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Respect For People with Intellectual Disabilities

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Emilia Malinowska: the realistic Polish

With a fierce gaze, Emilia Malinowska struggles to live within an environment that still has “a lot of stereotypes and social fears” from the communist era.

“Perhaps the most prominent among these stereotypes is the need to remove inwalidzi, or “invalids” from the larger society – or to ensure that they remain on the periphery, at the very least. Indeed, the communist ideology promoted a reverence of the healthy, fully able-bodied worker. All those individuals who contradicted this archetype by displaying any type of disability or “defect” were immediately removed from the general population,” she was quoted saying in the report Leaving the Ghetto: Learning to Embrace Physical Disabilities in the Polish Labor Market of the Humanity in Action.

Emilia would just close her eyes and tremble slightly when discriminated, confident as she is with a degree and current employment.

“Before 1989, disabled people didn’t exist. We had no disabled people in Poland.”

This was why, Emilia explained, persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Poland are either unemployed or underemployed.

“The absence of public facilitates and assistance, compounded by the intense societal prejudice against their disabilities, left this persecuted group with two disturbing options: to remain perpetually confined to the boundaries of their homes, or to become ‘working prisoners’ of sorts, trapped instead in a spółdzielnia inwalidów, or an invalid cooperative.”

It serves more harm than good, Emilia asserted, because these workplaces “actually functioned as ‘special ghetto factories’ that only perpetuates the communist vision of an ideal society that, ostensibly, consisted solely of competent, able-bodied workers.”

If it’s any consolation, though, Poland has already enacted two laws to safeguard the PWDs in its society. The Employment and Vocational Rehabilitation of the Disabled Act of 1991 legally defined a PWD as an “individual with an essential physical, psychological, or mental impairment that impedes the individual’s ability to earn wages”; while the Act on Vocational and Social Rehabilitation bestowed financial support to companies that would employ PWDs.

“My body is disabled, but my life is not disabled. I don’t feel disabled in life.” ~ Emilia Malinowska

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Emilia Malinowska

Poland

Eight years from now, the country bordered by Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, and Russia will be hosting an “event that redefines handball” with the nation of Sweden.

Will the persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Poland be able to participate? How are they being treated there?

Only after the 1978 Census was the Medical Board for Disability and Employment able to legally classify the number of PWDs in Poland. It was totaled to 2, 485, 0011 or 7.1% of the entire population.

Last 2009,  the Association of Friends of Integration together with the Administrative Office of the country organized a competition to find out which building “are best suited” for PWDs. Those that won were the Opera House in Wroclaw, the Town Hall in Dabrowa Gornicza, the Public Library in Koszalin, the Sport and Exhibition Hall in Gdynia, and the Cable Car to Kasprowy Wierch in Zakopane.

Then last May 9, 2013, the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) launched a “crucial component” that would (1) ensure that PWDs are able to participate fully and effectively in society on an equal basis with others and (2) address and assess the needs of PWDs better.

A bill was filed in its Senate last April 18, 2014 “to boost welfare benefits for parents who leave their jobs to care for their disabled children.” The latter will receive $431 by 2016.

Social security in Poland includes insurances in retirement, disability, sickness, and accident. All employees in the country are covered by the compulsory pension and disability pension insurance. They may continue the insurance on a voluntary basis after it expires but not if they already have a title to another form of insurance.

Its surroundings are “user-friendly” to PWDs. Entrances to its establishments are stairless. Doorframes were regulated to be at least 80 cm wide so that a wheelchair can be taken inside a room. All sounds and alarms must be audible, all stairs must be rough, and all doors and signs must be lettered or numbered.

Tourism For All is a website that lists these attractions to PWDs based on the type of restrictions such as wheelchairs, prosthesis, or crutches. Another website does the same thing for the PWDs of the Kaszubian District.

Poland also has activation workshops, physical rehabilitation centres offering spa treatments, forms of active and passive recreation, and group bonding events. The gyms, fitness clubs, swimming pools, and water parks here offer discounts and special assistance. The Polish Association of Disability in Sports has the program “Start,” which aims to organize and develop the common physical culture, sport, the rehabilitation of movement, tourism and recreation for PWDs.

A travel agency in Krakow would organize excursions for PWDs to Europe. Wooden platforms have been laid in the beaches in Wladyslawowo, Cetniewo, Ustka, Sopot and Mielno. In Swinoujscie, Dziwnow, and Pobierowo, the descents to the beach are gentle so that PWDs can still move around.  In Rewa there is a pier for wheelchair users and Gdynia has a playground that includes a sandpit with raised edges and a swing in the form of a basket.

Poland signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2012. About 3.8% of the Polish population can work there now.

“Funds for social benefits, especially for the young generation, need to stop being considered a wasted expenditure. This is smart money. If we can improve someone’s health condition, providing for him in the future will be much less expensive. Moreover, if we can educate these children and help them become independent, we will have a good citizen and taxpayer in the future.” ~ Broda-Wysocki

1 Based on The Polish National Census in 1978.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of polcham