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“I read by touch” – unique Zagreb souvenirs that raise awareness towards blind and visually impaired people

The URIHO institution for professional rehabilitation and employment of persons with disabilities is one of the main pillars of those who live daily with impairment or loss of physical and psychological functions and abilities.

Have you ever wondered what it is like when you can't rely on your eyesight? What would the world be like if you couldn't read a text like this one or see all the beauty of nature, views of the city you walk through, and the faces of your loved ones? These are the lives of blind and visually impaired people whose training and employment is taken care of by the URIHO institution  (An institution for professional rehabilitation and employment of persons with disabilities) from Zagreb, which recently launched an innovative souvenir program called “I read by touch” that opens a new perspective on the world around us.

Impaired vision, hearing, voice or speech; physical disabilities, chronic diseases, intellectual disability, and various behavioral disorders – these are just some examples of disability, a word that unfortunately leads to various limits in all aspects of life, including employment. More than 600,000 people with disabilities live in Croatia, making up sixteen percent of the total population. Although the percentage of employed persons with disabilities increases every year, only fifteen percent of them are still employed. Why is that? Unfortunately, the most common reason is misunderstanding and non-acceptance of the environment.

And this is exactly where URIHO's new souvenir program “I read by touch” comes into play: t-shirts, bags and backpacks – with letters in Braille and enlarged tactile printing – on which the name of the capital of Croatia has obtained a new garment for people with visual impairment or loss of sight. The aesthetically attractive combination of the inscription “Zagreb” in the Latin Arial font and raised dots in Braille thus fulfills more than a souvenir purpose. “Close your eyes and run your fingers over the raised dots, feel how it is read by touch”, they say, and all with the aim of sensitizing the public towards blind and visually impaired people – how else will you put yourself in their shoes than to try to read as they read, to feel as they feel?

Following the mission and vision of the institution, these socially conscious souvenirs were created in collaboration with blind and visually impaired people, making it authentic and making it clear that inclusiveness is the only option for a better tomorrow for people with disabilities. The result is special items that not only represent an excellent souvenir from Zagreb for visually impaired people, but also fulfil an educational purpose for all generations. It is also important to note that they come in eco-friendly packaging, which is another sign that this institution is focused on a future that will be better for people with disabilities and for our environment.

URIHO is the successor of “Ivančica”, the first established protective workshop in Croatia which was founded in 1946 and still represents one of the central aspects of the institution, contributing to the employment and training of persons with disabilities. Thanks to the work of this institution, many people with disabilities have found employment in Zagreb's companies and institutions, contributing to its status as a modern European city that offers equal opportunities to all its residents.

You too can support the work of this institution - take a peek at their online store and choose your socially conscious Zagreb souvenir!