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A social inclusion model spreads across Europe, Latin America and other parts of the world.

Almost 80 years after its creation, ONCE continues to make progress in its efforts to bring about social inclusion for people who are blind or have other disabilities.  It promotes employment and social economy and spreads its working efforts to include, amongst other regions, Latin America and the European Union, which value a sustainable, solidarity-driven social and economic model creating wealth for the whole society and, above all, for millions of people with disabilities.  These efforts have led to our being legally recognised as a unique organisation in Social Economy sphere, distinguishable thanks to our activities in the social, economic and business fields based on principles and values such as solidarity, non-profit making and general interest status.

Work carried out by the ONCE Foundation for Co-operation and Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities (celebrating its 25th anniversary) in eliminating barriers, boosting training and promoting job-seeking, has led to it becoming the ideal complement to the efforts of ONCE, an organisation determined to ensure that people with disabilities play a full role in progress towards modernisation, new technologies, design for all and universal accessibility, which is absolutely necessary in times of increasing globalisation.

As respected operators in the gaming sector, subject to strict public regulation and committed to promoting responsible gaming as main source of income, ONCE and its Foundation represent a unique model for integration, solidarity and provision of ever-more specialised services which go beyond borders.

Active in over 25 countries

In an area more geared towards solidarity, ONCE and its Foundation play an active role in more than 25 countries, apart from its EU neighbours.  The organisation works on education and employment projects in 19 Latin American countries; it expands educational initiatives to places in Europe that were affected by armed conflicts, such as the Balkans, where Braille printing equipment and the training of professional gave birth to an educational resources centre.

ONCE and its Foundation are present in Africa, for example, in the Saharawi refugee camps, only place on the continent where all blind children attend school thanks to the Organisation’s educational projects.  It also works in cultural initiatives in Morocco or in the employment and inclusion areas in Tunisia.

In the field of representation, ONCE participates very actively in the global associative movement of blind people, both in the European Blind Union and the World Blind Union, through a vice-presidency in both organisations.  It takes an active role in the European Disability Forum; it works in the UN Committee of Experts on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, besides being present in many other international forums in the disability field.

Data confirming ONCE’s work abroad are clear.  121,684 children with severe visual impairment were enrolled in schools in Latin America over the past four years.  52,133 blind adults received training for employment.  Many have now found jobs and made the shift from being hidden away, shunned and forgotten to becoming, in some cases, the only breadwinner in the family.  All blind boys and girls in the Saharawi refugee camps attend school.  Production facilities for educational material have been set up in the former war zones in the Balkans.  The disability movement was fostered in Tunisia following the Arab Spring; accessibility has improved in countries such as Uruguay, Costa Rica and Ecuador; or, for over 15 years now, progress was made for more than 80 million European citizens with disabilities through EU directives incorporating accessible transport, employment and education.

Visibility of people with disabilities

The social inclusion model of ONCE and its Foundation is spreading worldwide to help people with disabilities achieve full independence and ensure they are visible, by living on a daily basis side-by-side with other citizens.

In the end, ONCE and its Foundation have created a social inclusion model for people with disabilities, which is without parallel worldwide and widely acknowledged abroad.  A clear example of this is the fact that in 2013 ONCE and its Foundation were granted the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord, and Spain was granted the renowned Franklin D. Roosevelt International Disability Rights Award, considered the “Nobel Prize” in the social field; or the regular requests to co-operate we receive from places like the USA, South Korea, China or the Nordic countries, among others, who wish to emulate the inclusion model ONCE and ONCE Foundation have put in place in Spain.

This is a model open to the world and, in fact, it is now present in more than fifty countries, ensuring that people with disabilities are independent, retain public and social visibility and continue to live side-by-side on a daily basis with their fellow citizens.