In autumn 2016, the Institute for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ljubljana celebrated its 116th birthday. To mark the occasion, we opened our gift and bookstore. The shop is located in the old town of Ljubljana at Stari trg 24.

We offer wonderful products here made during lessons and as part of the work therapy programme in our kindergarten, primary school and vocational secondary schools. To meet the increased demand for the products, we have also invited other secondary school students (taking any of our many different vocational programmes, such as textile studies, carpentry, metalwork, graphic design, computer science, printing and mechanical engineering) to join us in their free time. These students need to have good grades as well as parental consent. They work for a maximum of two hours a week and earn extra pocket money.

We also offer professional literature produced by the institute as part of its activities within the Association of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Societies. You can find books for children as well as newspapers printed by the institute.

The store is both a social and information centre: we organise presentations of successful people with special needs, discussions, small cultural events and talks by professional lecturers. Other programs include courses of Slovenian sign language and seminars for both experts and non-experts. Here you can find all the information about educational possibilities for the deaf and hard of hearing, people with speech disorders and autism. We also provide details of the rehabilitation programmes and integration and inclusion of this vulnerable group of people.

The store plays an important role in preparing our youngsters to work independently. It employs students who in school take a special subject called ‘Open curricula’, where they learn and practice social skills, how to handle money and how to provide customer service. Here we have art lessons for primary school students and practical lessons for secondary school students. The shop is a real life extension of the classroom.

We would like to underline that it is not our goal for our store to make a profit. The store has grown out of our ethical commitment to raise the awareness regarding special needs and reciprocity.

The shop has both enriched the curriculum of our school and strengthened our role in the community.

We are happy that the store has benefited the old town by providing charming and unique products from people with special needs made with love and care. It allows everyone to get to know the students and experience their craftsmanship. We are proud to be a part of the old town and we know that it is proud of us as well.