Světluška, a firefly in the English translation, is a long-term project of the Czech Radio National Fund that engages visually impaired people. It has been raising money since 2003 and distributing it to non-profit organisations as well as to individuals. Along with financing special school aids, requalification programs, training, education and workshops, the organisation engages the public in a dialogue and raises important questions concerning visually impaired peoples’ everyday life. Světluška provides an invaluable platform for inclusion and mutual understanding.
A successful annual event run by the project is Kavárna Potmě, Café After Dark. A coffee shop is located on the Square of the Republic in Prague during the summer. Also, a coffee shop based in a bus travels to various Czech towns from May to September. Both coffee shops provide a safe environment for customers to experience life in the darkness. Blind waitresses assist customers to play games or try SATNAV for blind people. The waitresses play an invaluable role because they guide and help customers in a foreign environment. Therefore, being disadvantaged, customers are sensitised to daily tasks, which are usually taken for granted by them, but are challenging for visually impaired people. Promoted by Czech actors, singers, writers and intellectuals, the coffee shops aim to reach a wide audience. Recently, organisers encouraged teachers to come with their students as a part of their educational programme. Finally, parallel to its importance on the educational level, the organisers make sure that the experience is fun. Therefore, pens and papers are provided to try to draw and see the result once returned to the daylight.
Recently, a run during the night was organised with over 7000 participants. Such events help to maintain public awareness of visually impaired people. Running 4,5 km or walking 2,5 km, handicapped or not, participants enjoyed the event and supported a good cause.
Another project organised independently of Světluška takes place in Prague giving people the opportunity to experience the everyday life of blind people. The Invisible Exhibition presents a set of rooms, in which participants are guided in complete darkness, where they are asked to recognise statues and daily used objects.
These projects are an excellent way of giving people the chance to step into the shoes of people with sight problems and to see what life can be like for them.