Zagreb - There are about 6,000 blind people in Croatia yet only 6% of them are employed, it was heard at a panel discussion in parliament on Wednesday which pointed out inclusive allowance and assistants for blind people as well as better education and employment opportunities as crucial tasks.
The panel discussion was organised by MP Ljubica Lukačić (HDZ) on the occasion of the Day of the Croatian Blind Union, marked June 16.
The Union's president Vojin Perić underscored the importance of a solid secondary school education and employing the blind which, he says is the crown of their social integration.
He identified the problem with employing the blind in the fact that many of the vocations the blind were employed in the past have disappeared and now they need to be trained for new market demands.
"The blind may not have work as telephone operators anymore but they can be employed in call centres yet it is difficult for them to find work even in public institutions," he said.
He in particular underscored the issue of an inclusive allowance for the blind which will be paid as of next year and should improve their quality of life and the Union expects that amount to be at least HRK 6,000.
He explained that a compensatory allowance should, regardless of an assets test, be sufficient to cover the costs of requirements incurred because of their disability.
Despite the problems, the state shows exceptional care for the disabled, hence state-secretary in the Ministry of Social Policy Marija Pletikosa underscored improvements to their material status thanks to the law on social welfare which led to an increase in the disability allowance and the allowance for personal care and assistance.
This year, 1,700 beneficiaries enjoyed the services of a personal assistant and have 81 interpreters for the blind and 35 seeing assistants at their disposal, Pletikosa said, adding that HRK 125 million had been secured for this.