The birth of the ONCE in 1938 was made possible by the confluence of a series of historical and social factors, resulting in a unique, member-based organization that is unequalled anywhere else on Earth. A delicate moment in the history of Spain and the courage of a group of men and women who refused to be marginalized by society and asserted their many abilities are two of the key elements that contributed to the founding of the ONCE.
Over these years, the institution has laid the foundation for a system of specialized social services for the blind that today forms the basis for associations for the blind worldwide and is a requisite standard for social services professionals. It is a system of services that emphasizes rehabilitation as the means for blind people to overcome the obstacles posed by this disability and to develop socially, professionally and personally.
Self-reliance, educational services, job normalization and universal accessibility are some of the elements that comprise the ONCE service structure.
The everyday kindness of Spanish society provides the essential financial support to this institution, which Spaniards claim as their own. It is the purchase by Spaniards of the Cupón and other games of chance sold by the ONCE that make its existence possible. The ONCE, through its Foundation, allocates part of its proceeds to other groups for the disabled.