International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment, European region

National Page of Croatia

National representative

Mrs. Marijana Konkoli Zdesic
Mali dom- Zagreb, centar za rehabilitaciju djece i mladeži
Baštijanova 1D, 10 000 Zagreb, Croatia
tel.: 00 385 1 3746509,
mobile: 00 385 91 8875750,
tel./fax: 00 385 1 6521099,
e-mail: marijana at malidom.hr

Educational institutions

School for the blind "Vinko Bek"

Email: ured (at) centar-vinko-bek-zg.skole.hr
Website: School for the blind "Vinko Bek" website

Centre Vinko Bek is a social welfare institution for the visually impaired - blind and partially sigted,ages 0 to 65.

Our clients are from all parts of Croatia and we provide services both in their homes and in the institution. Our headquarters is in Zagreb, Kuslanova 59a and we also have regional offices in Osijek and Split. We provide educational and rehabilitational services . We cater for the needs of the blind and partially sighted all over Croatia taking into account their individual and specific needs and abilities.

University of Zagreb, Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences, Department of Visual Impairments

Website: Department of Visual Impairments website

Team members

Prof. dr. sc. Tina Runjc t.runjic (at)gmail.com (fields of interest: quality of life in ageing persons with visual impairment, teaching methods for school children with VI, orientation and mobility, activities of daily living, professional rehabilitation of persons with visual impairment, etc)
Doc. dr. sc. Sonja Alimovic sonja.alimovic (at) gmail.com (fields of interest: cerebral visual impairemnt, functional assessment of persons with VI, vision rehabilitation, early intervention, family wellbeing, multiple disabilities and visual impairment, etc)
Doc. dr. sc. Ante Bilic Prcic ante.bilic.prcic (at) gmail.com (fields of interest: assistive technology, persons with visual impairment and their family, physiology of vision, adaptation of materials and environment for persons with visual impairment, etc)
Vlatka Penava, mag. rehab. educ. vpenava (at) gmail.com (fields of interest: Braille literacy, teaching methods for the math, mental health of aging persons with visual impairment, etc)
Dominik Sikiric, mag. rehab. educ. dominiksik (at) gmail.com (fields of interest: orientation and mobility, orientation and mobility techniques for persons with multiple disabilities and visual impairment, social funkctioning and quality of life in persons with visual impairment, etc.)

Department of Visual Impairments has been established in 1964, as one of the first departments within former High School of Defectology, which became the Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences. Professional and research activities of the Department are focused on rehabilitation of persons with visual impairment, while teaching activities have a goal to enable students to gain professional competencies necessary for professional work with people with visual impairment.

Teaching activities

Teaching activity of the Department is based on 23 mandatory and 7 elective courses on undergraduate and graduate level. Through various subjects and courses on undergraduate level, students gain basic knowledge and competencies necessary for professional work. Further, they improve their gained skills on graduate level through study programme Educational Rehabilitation (Module: Rehabilitation of Visually Impaired Persons). Through that programme students can obtain specific knowledge and competencies enabling them to independently carry out all professional activities in direct work with person with visual impairment (orientation and mobility, teaching Braille, activities of daily living, functional assessment and rehabilitation of vision, assistive technology, teaching methods for school children with visual impairment, early intervention, working with children with visual impairment and multiple disabilities, etc.)

Scientific and research activities

Members of the Department are involved in different national and international scientific and expert projects. Within those projects they are focused on research of cerebral visual impairment, assessment and rehabilitation of visual functioning through whole life span of persons with visual impairment. They are also interested in analysing the quality of life of persons with visual impairment and also in analysing of the whole family wellbeing. Through those projects Department is involved in establishing and improving comprehensive social policy and support system for people with visual impairment, also in improving assessment, teaching and rehabilitation methods and in improving the wellbeing of the whole family of person with visual impairment.

Professional activities

Besides teaching and scientific activities, members of the Department also actively participate in professional activities. Independently or in collaboration with various institutions (Croatian Institute of Public Health, Sisters of Mercy Hospital, Centre for Education and Rehabilitation Vinko Bek, Day Care Centre Mali dom-Zagreb.), they organize and participate in various activities (e.g. public lectures, seminars, workshops, round tables.) for professionals and the general public. Furthermore, they are active in professionals activities, such as assessment and rehabilitation, conducted at the Faculty's Centre for Rehabilitation.

Associations

Croatian Blind Union

Address: Draskoviceva 80, 10 000 Zagreb, P.O.B. 736
Phone: +385 1 4812 501
Fax: +385 1 4812 507
Email: hrvatski (at) savez-slijepih.hr
Website: Croatian Blind Union website

Croatian Blind Union (CBU) is a national non-governmental and non-profit organization, member of the European Blind Union and World Blind Union. Since its establishment in 1946, bringing to life the founders' motto "Blind for the blind", it grew to be the leading civil society organization for articulating specific needs of the blind and became a relevant partner to government sector in finding optimal solutions that positively affect the quality of life of the blind and partially sighted persons in Croatia. Through its local members, 27 regional and municipal associations, CBU gathers more than 6000 persons with visual impairments and is firmly positioned and recognized as a non-governmental organization that cooperates successfully with actors in both civil society and economic sector.

The Mission of the CBU is:

  • to ensure the respect of human rights and eliminate all forms of discrimination against the blind,
  • to promote and implement proactive policies in the field of social welfare, including the provision of immediate humanitarian assistance necessary for the blind,
  • to ensure and enable application of the latest achievements in the field of education, rehabilitation and employment of the blind on a practical level,
  • to act in promotion, protection and improvement of the health of the blind,
  • to participate in improving environmental and physical planning and in adaptation of specific solutions to meet the needs of the blind,
  • to affirm blind persons in all areas of social life,
  • to raise awareness of the general public, relevant professionals and decision makers on the status and needs of the blind in order to achieve full inclusion in the life of community

Current Projects

Project "Don't be Afraid the First Step is Made" - project is funded by the European Union under the IPA IV programme, Contracting Authority: Croatian Employment Service
Program "When We Hear SOS" - three year program funded by the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth.
Project "Spirit of Youth" - project funded by the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth.

Rehabilitation Centre Silver

Address: Centra za rehabilitaciju Silver, Stefanovec 34, 10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 2394451
Email: centar.silver (at) czrs.hr
Contact persons: Director Dr. sc. Marijan Alfonzo Sesar, m.a.sesar (at) czrs.hr
Tatjana Licina, t.licna (at) czrs.hr, +385 99 3883994
Website: Rehabilitation Centre Silver website

Rehabilitation Centre Silver is social welfare institution that provides assistance dog programs to children with developmental difficulties and persons with disabilities. Rehabilitation programmes are conducted both in the Rehabilitation Centre and at the client's residence, and their implementation ensures the conditions for people with disabilities to achieve enhanced social inclusion.

Programmes:

Long cane technique programme makes possible for visually impaired persons to achieve independent mobility on familiar routes, to orientate themselves through their residual senses and mental capacity, to master traffic rules, to use the stairs safely, to use public transportation, etc.

"Tom Pouce" Electronic Travel Aid Device is an infrared proximeter that detects obstacles in the covered fields of view (including those above a fixed threshold) and vibrates to alert visually impaired person, thus providing an additional protection and security. The precondition for the participation in this programme is the ability of a person to use the sliding technique with a long cane and to have experience in moving independently.

After mastering the Daily living skills Programme, visually impaired persons achieve greater independence in effectively performing everyday responsibilities (personal hygiene, home maintenance, food supply and cooking, communication skills, etc.)

Guide Dog Programme trains visually impaired persons to use guide dogs when travelling, which enhances their independence and security. A guide dog is trained to:

  • sit or stop to mark the changes in the height of the surface (curb, step, etc.);
  • go around the obstacles on the pavement (poles, excavations, garbage bins; pedestrians, etc.) leaving sufficient space for the safe passage of the guided person;
  • guide a visually impaired person to the designated target (marked zebra crossing, doors, arm of a chair, tram/bus stop).

Within the programme clients are trained to basic care and grooming of dogs.

Guide dog user should know the route of travel and give commands to their dog about the direction of travel (left, right, back.), and the dog then finds the safest solution. On the basis of the previous orientation and mobility education and independent traveling, the blind person estimates the traffic and gives the dog commands about when to cross a road.

Service dog programme makes it possible for the people in wheelchairs and the people with severe mobility difficulties to learn the skills to use the aid of service dog to get and carry things, open/close doors, drawers, washing machines, transfer to the wheelchair and out, and other specific needs and, in addition, to learn about the basic dog grooming and care.

Service dog for children programme makes it possible for a parent - a therapy/service dog handler to include the dog into the rehabilitation process of a child with developmental difficulties and the improvements are noticeable in sensorimotor, cognitive, communicative, psychosocial and emotional development of children. Likewise, a service dog can be given to a professional teacher (a person who includes a service dog into their professional work). Teachers are also trained to basic dog care and grooming within this programme.

Service dogs for children are trained dogs intended to be used for therapy and to help to encourage the development process of children and adolescents with developmental difficulties. This type of combined approach enables a servicedog to have two roles on the completion of training:

  • as a helper to a child with developmental difficulties, such as: walking aid, getting objects, helping to undress and do other daily routines, alarming, calming down and doing other services depending on the individual needs and abilities of a child;
  • as a motivator in daily activities and existing rehabilitation processes of a child with developmental difficulties.

In the Centre, we carry out daily therapies for children with developmental difficulties, working on the rehabilitation with service dogs during school year. The programme is adjusted individually to each user depending on their needs and abilities. In this way, it improves their emotional, cognitive, motor and psychosocial development/condition.

Half day care in the Centre embraces persons with intellectual disabilities and multiple disorders and this programme, apart from consolidating the acquired skills, also develops new ones. This programme includes: the development of communicative skills, self-representation, development and improvement of social connections, daily life activities, service dog activities, art workshops, etc.

Sensory integration therapy SIAT® is implemented according to the fundamental principles set by Dr. A. Jane Ayers while the inclusion of a therapeutic dog is an innovative and unique approach to this type of therapy. Children with developmental difficulties and sensory integration dysfunction i.e. sensory processing difficulties, behavioral organization, self-regulation, muscle tone disorders, fine and rough motor disorders, dyspraxia, motor disorders, perception disorder, disorder levels of excitement, disturbance of awake and difficulty playing are included in the program of sensory integration with the therapeutic dog.

The Centre carries out the dog breeding, puppy walking and assistance dog training programmes, according to the internationally recognized standards.

The breeding programme for own needs is based on Labrador retriever and Golden retriever breeds, since these breeds have shown the best level of adjustment in the very demanding training of service dogs.

The puppy walking programme begins with the selection of puppies and testing of their genetic predispositions, when they are six to eight weeks old. The chosen puppy grows up in a family of volunteers where it gets used to various situations in human daily life, and where it learns basic rules of behaviour and obedience. During the puppy walking, the Centre Silver provides a professional assistance to these families and compensates for all expenses of food, equipment and veterinary services.

On the completion of the puppy walking period, being 16 - 18 months old, the dogs are introduced to the training programme. During the first two months of training, all dogs have the same programme and then, after the assessment made by instructors, they are admitted to guide dog, service dog or service dog for children programme. In the final phase of training, dogs' skills are adjusted to the specific needs of users. It takes eight months of training to complete this programme, regardless of the type.

By carrying out educative activities, the Centre influences the raising of consciousness of persons with disabilities and of public consciousness, likewise. Educative activities involve organized visits of interested groups to the Centre, and the visits of professionals from the Centre to the associations of disabled people, to kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, social care institutions, faculties, etc.

Mali dom - Zagreb

Day Care Center for Rehabilitation of Children and Young Adults

Website: Mali dom website
Contact information: Director Darija Udovicic Mahmuljin, darija (at) malidom.hr

About us

Mali dom-Zagreb is a local public institution, founded by the City of Zagreb, which provides services for children and youth with multiple disabilities, vision impairments and additional difficulties.

We conduct educational and psychosocial rehabilitation services in compliance with the official programmes authorized by a relevant ministry:

  • Day care center - Daily program conducted in groups, where we provide educational and rehabilitation activities, daily living activities, household activities, occupational, social and cultural activities as well as specific rehabilitation services such as Functional vision stimulation, Communication stimulation, Orientation and mobility etc.
  • Early intervention program - for children from birth to 3 years of age, we provide educational and psychosocial rehabilitation in a form of home based professional support services to families (Visiting Services)
  • Transdisciplinary assessment - performed by a team of experts, holistic and individualised; we provide educational-rehabilitation assessment, functional vision assessment, physiotherapy assessment, speech and language assessment.

Mali dom-Zagreb provides regular daily services to more than 100 visually impaired children and young adults with additional disabilities and deaf blind. Each year, additional 300 children from all parts of Croatia are included in our inter/transdisciplinary assessment and counselling programs.

Our expert team consists of special education teachers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, kinesitherapist, social worker and psychologist.

All members of the expert team underwent numerous and diverse education and were focused on acquiring a variety of specific knowledge in different areas of education and rehabilitation of children with disabilities.

As we are constantly looking for new ways to develop our programmes by providing the best quality service, we take part in various scientific projects, and we put great emphasis on cooperation and networking with domestic and foreign institutions, organizations, universities and professionals from different fields.

We also provide trainings and education for various experts in the field of working with children with multiple disabilities through our Education center.