- Foundation of the ÖHTB
The Austrian Relief Organization for People Who Are Deafblind and People with Significant Vision and Hearing Impairments (ÖHTB, Österreichisches Hilfswerk für Taubblinde und hochgradig Hör- und Sehbehinderte) was founded in 1981 on the initiative of parents of deafblind children, their teachers and friends. Originally a parental association, it became active as a supporting organization in 1987.
The ÖHTB is a non-profit association established to provide counseling, care, and education, as well as professional and vocational training, to children and adults with disabilities, and it has established a range of facilities to help fulfil its mission.
At present, we are able to accommodate approximately 160 people with disabilities in 16 flat-sharing communities and connected training apartments. Furthermore, we are able to offer out-patient care for up to 100 people.
Our flat-sharing communities are designed to meet the needs of the individual.
Every individual has the right to obtain a room of his or her own. However, if two individuals strongly wish to live together, we offer them the opportunity to share a studio apartment. If a person is no longer in need of the extensive care provided within the community (which includes on-call care throughout the night), he/she can move into a small apartment and receive outpatient care.
Within the city the apartments are located close to public transportation stops, and the infrastructure of the surrounding area provides for all needs. Shops as well as work places are within easy reach.
We believe that human beings have the potential for lifelong personal development, and we support our clients in achieving the greatest possible amount of independence.
In our workshops we offer occupational therapy for about 300 individuals with disabilities. Various Qualifying Projects, organized through an organization set up for that purpose, prepare our clients for successful professional integration. The Office for Company Contacts tries to establish contacts with prospective employers and helps project participants find employment in the free market.
In order to fulfil the needs of all individuals we offer different workshop groups - extensive care groups, creative groups, and performance groups. Furthermore, our clients have the opportunity to participate in Qualifying Projects to prepare them for integration into the workforce.
The main purpose of the extensive care group is to get the individuals acquainted with a structured daily routine. This group is designed for people with special needs or those who have not been able to find a place in a workshop due to personal difficulties and/or have displayed aggressive behaviour towards themselves or others.
In the creative groups we work with a variety of materials like cloth, clay, wood, metal, paper, glass, etc. Physical and therapeutic activities also form an important part of the work in these groups.
In the performance groups, for example the metal workshop or book bindery, we primarily fulfil customer orders, producing objects such as metal watches, recycled products, calendars, notebooks, binders, etc. There are also "housework groups" which, under the supervision of our staff, prepare the meals for all the workshop employees.
And last but not least we also run a laundry.
We are also successfully active in gastronomic business. At the location of our head office in Vienna 10, Humboldtplatz 6, we operate a training restaurant, in which 13 clients prepare up to 55 midday menus, operate a Café and execute catering for seminars and events.
For the supply of our housing communities, workshops and offices with things of the daily requirement we created a central storage depot, in which we offer ten working places. In this way we succeeded both to optimise the purchase of goods and to offer a meaningful occupation for humans with disabilities.
In order to support humans with disabilities to find a working place we raised two gastronomic enterprises (Café Tritsch-Tratsch and Polycafé) into being in 2001.
They should offer qualified education on the job and support at the job search into the first job market.
Taking another step towards decentralization, we transformed our transportation service into a separate non-profit organization. We transport people with disabilities to and from work in special buses and vehicles and are also available for leisure transportation needs.
- Child Services
We offer on-site training and counseling for children with sensory and multiple disabilities and their parents. It is our goal to help parents with pedagogic, psychological, legal and financial questions, and we also offer them the opportunity to get in touch with other parents of children with sensory impairments. Furthermore, we can make an early diagnosis regarding a child's development.
- Self - help Group
In our self-help group and counseling location for people hard of hearing and people suffering from hearing loss in later life we offer counseling as well as sign language classes.
A psychotherapist provides counseling for our clients' parents and other family members. These counseling sessions offer support in times of emotional stress, they can yield solutions to practical problems or they can simply be a way for parents to find an open ear and talk about their concerns.
- Affiliated Operations
The ÖHTB runs several operations, which are now a separate organization (Fachwerk GmbH since January 1, 2000). One of them is Wicker-making, which offers a variety of products ranging from simple breadbaskets to laundry baskets and coat-racks. All products can be custom made according to our clients' wishes. We are also able to provide an unusual service, namely the skilled restoration of "Wiener Geflecht", a special form of wicker-making predominantly used on chairs and benches.
In our Copy shop all resulting copying and mailing are completed, whereby we can refer with pride to customers from middle and large-scale companies.
Another operation is our Qualifying Project "Object Cleaning" (co financed by the European Social Fund). The individuals working on this project are called transition workers: after one to two years of intensive training supported by project coaches they should have the opportunity to successfully integrate into the labour market.
Our Office for Company Contacts assists project participants in their job search.
Within all these operational areas we approach our objective to create appropriate jobs for humans with disabilities step by step and hope to be able to continue this successful way in the future.