Chance for the Blind Foundation was founded in 1992 by a group of blind people and their sighted friends. They were mainly people who, several years earlier, had established the Altix Company. Altix is the main sponsor of the foundation. It is a company that provides blind and partially sighted community and people who are close to them in their lives with newest technological solutions. The company provides the best quality equipment, software and technology to make our space more friendly for those with vision impairments.
In its over 30 years of activity, the Chance for the Blind Foundation has helped hundreds of blind and partially sighted people. The Foundation helps visually impaired people at every stage of their lives. Families with blind children, schoolchildren, students, adults and those who have become visually impaired in their old age ask our Foundation for support and help. It is professional and social activation appropriate to the reality and requirements of the 21st century, which is the most important mission of our organization. We call it „modern rehabilitation”. After passing the stage of acceptance of one’s disability and learning the basic principles according to which people with visual impairments function in their lives, including orientation & mobility skills, we focus on training them in the use of modern technology: telephones, computers, all kinds of applications of both software and devices, thanks to which blind people can be accepted as desired employees. We also focus on shaping an active approach to social life among our beneficiaries, promoting education and self-improvement, as well as the principles of civil society. Our mission is to show that a well-rehabilitated blind person is able to perform all social roles: to be a competent employee or businessman, a good parent, an active citizen.
The Foundation employs about 60 employees, half of whom are visually impaired.
ACTIVITIES AND PROJECTS OF THE FOUNDATION
Every year the Foundation carries out several dozen regional and national projects. The REHA FOR THE BLIND IN POLAND Conference, organized every year in Warsaw and 16 major cities of Poland is the most important one. In 2022, we organized the 20th edition of this extraordinary event. The 15th Conference, combined with the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Foundation in 2017, was attended by over three thousand people.
The REHA Conference is the only event of this kind in Central and Eastern Europe. It is a meeting place for the blind and visually impaired not only from Poland, but also from other countries, which we call East-West meetings. They are a space for exchange of experience, knowledge and practice in the field of rehabilitation of blind and partially sighted people, a debate on our rights and demands towards authorities and society, a meeting with the latest technological solutions from Poland and the world, and most importantly, an exchange of different points of view and inspiration for further work. The REHA Conference is a meeting of professionals in the field of rehabilitation in the broad sense of this term, as well as blind and partially sighted people who want to be up to date with the newest technological solutions.
REHA FOR THE BLIND CONFERENCE RECORDS
• 62 exhibitors from all over the world
• 22 countries represented at the Conference
• 3000 guests
• More than 2 million people finding out about the campaign promoting the event
The REHA Conference is a huge organizational, financial, content-related and marketing challenge, which we have been successfully managing for many years. Each REHA Conference is larger, more interesting, but also more professional.
The REHA Conferences in 2020, 2021, and 2022 were a 4-day events, in 2023 it will be combined with the IMC18.
During the Conference days we organize all the major activities (opening session, lectures, panel discussions, workshops, shows), as well as entertainment, we also provide transportation, accommodation and meals for our participants. In 2020, due to the pandemic, we organized an online broadcast of the Conference. Thanks to this, many blind and partially sighted persons from all over the world were able to get to know about our work and mission. Lectures and discussion panels were not only broadcasted to the world. They were also interpreted into 9 languages, including Arabic, Hebrew, Romanian and others.
The situation was similar in 2021 and 2022.
Year by year, more and more institutions that offer us their financial and organizational support are interested in cooperation in organizing the Conference. We cooperate with the authorities of the Capital City of Warsaw and the authorities of the Mazovian Voivodship where the capital city is located. The Central Authorities support us by being part of the Honorary Committee, e.g. Mr. Paweł Wdówik, Government Plenipotentiary for Disabled Persons who visits our event and helps us build this undertaking. For several years now, the REHA conference has been held under the honorary patronage of the wife of the President of Poland, Agata Kornhauser Duda. We also cooperate with scientific institutions and NGOs which have appropriate know-how in the field of medical, social and professional rehabilitation of the blind and visually impaired, including orientation & mobility skills. Among them, there are: Society for the Care of the Blind in Laski, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, and The Maria Grzegorzewska University in Warsaw. We are proud to say that the Foundation is perceived as a reliable partner. We also closely cooperate with Ukraine and Romania by building a world open to the blind in these countries as well.
Our Foundation has good relations with the World Blind Union and the European Blind Union.
MR. Marek Kalbarczyk, the Honorary President of the Foundation, is a member of three, important advisory bodies of the Polish government. All of them deal with supporting people with disabilities, and making our country accessible to citizens with special needs.
THE IDOL COMPETITION
In order to honor persons and institutions deeply involved in improving the situation of blind community in Poland and in the whole world, we organize the IDOL COMPETITION which is held within the REHA FOR THE BLIND IN POLAND conference. The competition has three stages: regional, national, and, since 2021, international. Candidates can be nominated within various categories, e.g. idol of the community, institution open to the blind and partially sighted.
THE WORLD IDOL OF THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED
As mentioned before, since 2021, we have been organizing the IDOL COMPETITION at international stage. The Foundation wants to honor and promote persons who are extremely well-rehabilitated, capable, and active in their home countries and world-wide. A blind person from Nepal was the first winner of the WORLD IDOL COMPETITION. He was awarded with a large chessboard designed and manufactured by Chance for the Blind Foundation.
MR. Marek Kalbarczyk is the author of the chessboard concept.
e-PAWNS – TALKING CHESS
This is a very special and innovative product, thanks to which a blind person can play with a sighted friend, partner or anyone who enjoys playing chess. The chessboard informs us through build-in speech synthesizer about every action taken, which makes it fully accessible to blind people. It is also possible for a player to play chess with a computer.
THE THIRD EYE PUBLISHING HOUSE
For many years, our Foundation, has been publishing many books regarding modern rehabilitation of the blind and partially sighted. Most of these books are written by MR. Marek Kalbarczyk. However, the Foundation has also adapted and published many books, including novels, written by other authors. Therefore, we have established our own publishing house, which is named after one of the most important work by Marek Kalbarczyk – “Their Third Eye”. The novel tells the story of four different people who lost their sight at various stages of their lives. The book is available in Polish language only, but we hope to publish it in other language versions in the future.
HELP – MONTHLY MAGAZINE OF THE CHANCE FOR THE BLIND FOUNDATION
Chance for the Blind Foundation publishes a monthly magazine called “Help – We Are Together”. All articles that can be found there are focused on various areas of rehabilitation of the blind and partially sighted. The magazine is available (in Polish), in Braille, normal print and in a digital version.
30 years of activity and ceremonies on the occasion to this anniversary were a great opportunity to honor people who have very important qualities, namely they are wise, hard-working, outstanding, wonderful and generally great. It is honor for us to know them and to watch their growth and activities. It is worth-mentioning that the presidential honors were awarded to people devoted to activities of our Foundation for the second time. The first such a ceremony was held in 2017, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of our organization. Having the opportunity to present our candidates to the President is itself a great pleasure, let alone to learn that they have succeeded and then participated in the ceremony of awarding these distinctions. The Foundation nominated 12 candidates. They were all recognized and honored. Each of them is a separate book of work and struggle for the best possible world, in which the good overcomes all difficulties and makes even the weakest find a worthy place for themselves. We recommend them to your attention. It is not difficult to meet them and find out how wonderful they are. We know them personally and we confirm – they are amazing people. Each of them is like ten others. We congratulate them on their awards, and we thank the President and the many people who have read the biographies of our heroes and decided that they should be honored.
Below is a list of those who were decorated in 2021. Please note how different their activities are: a scientist, a chess player, a translator, a manager, a rehabilitator, a musician, and all of them – activists in our community. Persons who are listed below were honored either with the Bronze or gold Cross of Merit.
Our heroes are the following:
Piotr Zygmunt Dukaczewski
Wojciech Zbigniew Maj
Ewa Katarzyna Bąk
Dagmara Katarzyna Cichos
Adam Marek Kalbarczyk
Sławomir Marian Piec
We also present the list of those who were decorated in 2017:
OTHER IMPORTANT PROJECTS OF THE FOUNDATION
For many years, Chance for the Blind Foundation has been implementing the project focused on the modern approach to the rehabilitation which it has been promoting. All project beneficiaries have 20 various modules to choose from. All of these modules are designed to improve different areas of their lives. There are modules regarding the O&M, accessible and safe household, new technologies, linguistic skills etc. We want to give our beneficiaries the most sufficient help that meets their needs.
Our Foundation also provides trainings to individuals and institutions on how to deal with persons with visual disabilities. We show that blindness is a limitation but functioning without sight is possible, and blind people can achieve success and lead satisfactory lives.