EASs 2017: what’s new for disabled people

Last week, after 15 years of wait, the new EASs (Essential Assistance Levels) were approved, through a measure signed by the Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni. They include the updated list of all the services and activities citizens can obtain by the National Healthcare Services (NHS), to ensure uniformity of treatment for everyone, everywhere in Italy.

LEA - ospedale

The approved list of EASs includes some new services dispensed by the NHS, for free or paying a ticket; for instance, vaccinations against some forms of meningococcus, pneumococcus and HPV and the heterologous medical assisted fertilization. The list of rare and chronic diseases has been updated too, with diseases such as the celiac one passing from the first to the second group.

LEA - autismoThe approved EASs include news for disabled people too. It’s largely debated the fact that the Down syndrome, so far considered a “rare disease” (which implies the total dispensation from the ticket payment for all the healthcare services related to the specific disease), now passes among the “chronic diseases”, with the immediate consequence of restricting just to has had certified a 100% invalidity the total dispensation. News for people with autism as well: access to more advanced therapies, commitment to the inclusion and integration of the child with autism in the social life, through a stronger connection among healthcare, school and family.

Furthermore, the new EASs also redefine the prosthetic nomenclator, i.e. prostheses and aids that can be prescribed at the expenses (totally or partially) of the NHS, to facilitate the life of people with various disabilities. For instance, it will be possible to prescribe:

LEA - assistenza

  • IT and communication aids (including eye communicators and keyboards for people with severe disabilities);
  • hearing aids based on digital technology, home automation tools and sensors to command and control the spaces (e.g. alarms and online rescue services);
  • cutlery and furnishings for motoric disabilities, shower gurney, 4 wheels-scooter, wheelchairs with verticalizing system, wheelchairs for severe and complex disabilities, lifters both fixed and for bath tub, grab bars and armbands for the bath, stairlifts for interiors;
  • artificial highly technological limbs and vocal recognition system and eye pointers.

Yet someone says the EASs are going to be reviewed in the upcoming weeks: let’s wait and see!

Parking permit for disabled people: what is and how to get it

Moving  everyday by car is convenient, for sure, mostly if you have a mobility issue. But what about parking? Nowadays, parking lots reserved to disabled people can be found almost everywhere, and they’re usually (there are always exceptions…) placed in barrier-free areas so that the disabled people (or their caregivers) can safely get in and out the car. But how can you benefit from it and assert your right, despite so many “wise (or absent-minded) guys”, who don’t notice the specific symbol identifying the reserved area? The answer is the parking permit for disabled people, that, as stated by the “Traffic Laws”, if put on the windscreen of the disabled person’s car, allows to use the reserved parking areas.

car with parking permit for disabled people

who can request it?

The parking permit for disabled people can be requested by:

  • People with permanent disability, certified as <<disabled person with a sensibly reduced ambulatory capacity>>
  • Visually impaired people
  • People with temporary disability, that is people whose ambulatory capacity is reduced just for a limited time, until they recover. In this case, the permit length will be limited to the timeframe specified on the medical certificate detailing the length of the invalidity.

In order to request the parking permit, you don’t need to own a car nor a driving license: the disabled person can request and use it on every car used for his mobility, remembering to show it when he is on that vehicle. On the contrary, showing the parking permit when the disabled person isn’t onboard implicates a fine. In any case, you must remember that the parking permit doesn’t allow to stop in all the “no parking” areas.

how to request the parking permit for disabled people?

The parking permit for disabled people must be requested through the appropriate form to the City you live in, showing – if you already have it- the documents certifying your disability. If your disability hasn’t been certified already or in the event of temporary disability, before presenting the request, you need a medical committee to certify the motoric or visual problems of the applicant person. The parking permit for disabled people is, usually, free of charge: you must pay a small amount only for temporary permits.

how long does it last and how to renew it?

Normally, the parking permit for disabled people lasts for 5 years. In the event of temporary disability, its length is limited to the period of disability and, in any case, cannot exceed 5 years.

In order to renew it, three months before the existing permit expires, you must request for the renewal, demonstrating that you still have right to it through specific documents.

European parking permit for disabled people

the european parking permit for disabled people

Until September 15th 2012, the parking permit for disabled people was orange. Since that date, on the contrary, the new European permit entered into force: the procedures to request it and its duration remain the same. In addition, you can use the permit not only in Italy, but in the whole EU, in order to allow citizens with disabilities to move freely inside the EU boundaries. Moreover, many countries have specific facilitations for disabled people, that can be enjoyed by tourists too, showing this permit.

For more info about the procedures to request the permit, please refer to your municipality.

 

University and students with disability: the facilitations

Choosing the university studies represents a fundamental stage in young people life, often reached after long reflection and evaluations. That’s even more true for aspiring university students with a disability. In addition to the course of studies and the employment perspectives, they must evaluate the accessibility of the building itself and of the city they’ve chosen (you know, we don’t live only to study, mostly when we’re young, do we?) and, according to the specific cases, the availability of different assistance services for students with disability.

università - ragazza

Current laws (and, especially, the 17/1999 law) guarantee the right to education to all the students, both disabled and not, not only during the compulsory education, but also for all the university course of studies. Nowadays, all universities make assistance services (both educational specific and general) available to their students with a disability or learning specific diseases, to enable them to fully live their university experience, minimizing the inconvenience. Together with educational and administrative assistance, many colleges offer dedicated transport and accompanying services towards the most important railway stations or on public transport, dispended by selected and prepared volunteers, and sometimes even taxi vouchers.

Should you need these services, before enrolling, make sure that the university you’ve chosen offers them and find out how to request for them and how long does it take for benefiting from them getting in touch with the university Disability Office: so, you’ll avoid unpleasant surprises in the future. Furthermore, if you have a motoric or sensory disability, it’s strongly advisable a “reconnaissance tour” of the university building, classrooms, and all the offices you’d need to visit during your course of studies.

università - ragazzo

Moreover, take into account that many Italian universities have reduced boarding costs (and sometimes the totally free admission) for students with disability, in addition to dedicated scholarships (for the worthiest students) and to the priority as regards the assignment of rooms at boarding schools, halls of residence and so on. To benefit from these facilitations, when enrolling, you’ll have to present your invalidity certificate and the ISEE documents (if the facilitation depends on your income).

Is everything clear? Then, enjoy your choice and studies!

Accessible web: the new EU directive

Nowadays, the Internet has a central role in our lives. Information, shopping, bureaucratic procedures, job, social interactions, movies and TV series, music: there are so many things we use the web for, saving time, money and energy. So, it’s essential to invest seriously in an accessible web.

web accessibile

The right to access the Internet is being included in the Constitution of many countries and, in the last years, Italy started a path towards this directions as well, coming to define the “Declaration of the Rights on the Internet”, a document  where you can read, among other things:

Accessing the Internet is a fundamental right of the person and a condition for his full individual and social development. Each person has equal right to access the Internet in conditions of parity, in technologically appropriate and updated ways, in order to remove each and every economic and social obstacle.

We have presented many initiatives aiming to guarantee an accessible web to all the users. A few days ago, the European Parliament approved, with a landslide majority, the “Directive about the web accessibility”, a law that specifically aims to allow everyone, including elderly and disabled people, to easily access the web, paying particular attention to the public administration websites.

The directive particularly applies to the websites and apps for mobile devices of: public administration offices, courts, police departments, public hospitals, universities and libraries. These institutions will have to give and regularly update a “detailed accessibility declaration” about the compliance of their websites and mobile apps with the directive, including an explanation of any inaccessible content part and detailing the reason why they aren’t accessible too. Moreover, the users must have the opportunity, through a feedback feature, to point out any issue and request for information about the inaccessible content.

This is a needed action, since, today, in the EU live about 80 million of people with a disability or difficult to access the web. The directive will enter into force within 20 days from the approval and the member States will have, since then, 21 months to comply with it. Then, within a year, all the new websites of the public administrations went “live” in the EU must be accessible. The existing websites will have 2 years to comply, while the mobile apps will have 33 months.

Not such a short time, indeed, mostly if we consider how quickly the web evolves. But this directive represents, however, an important step forward towards a web that could be accessible for everyone, thanks to the efforts of the EDF (European Disability Forum).

Discrimination towards disabled people: a new way to defend yourself

Whoever, both directly or indirectly, lives with any disability is aware of how often you have to face more or less clear forms of discrimination. Not only the ubiquitous architectonical barriers (that notably complicate movements and, in general, the disabled people daily life), but also (and especially) due to hard to die prejudices, whose effects are visible at school, at work and, generally speaking, whenever you have to compare to other people.

Too often, who’s subjected to discrimination -due to unawareness or because he’s sure not to have at his disposal ways to defend himself- accepts with resignation what happens, withdraws into himself, as it happens in case of bullying.  Yet, there are many ways to defend yourself (even legally, if needed).

discriminazione handicap

For instance, the Franco Bomprezzi” Center Against Discrimation in Milan, launched in July 2015 by LEDHA (the League for the Rights of Disabled People) and named after a great journalist and writer, who was affected by a severe disability and spent his life fighting personally to see the rights of people with disability acknowledged and defended. He was among the promoters of this project.

The center aims to assist disabled people subjected to discrimination, providing them, their relatives or the organizations that represent them with listening, information, consulting and, if needed, defense. So, it aims to boost the awareness of disabled people, and of the whole community, towards cases of discrimination, both those that have been legally sanctioned and those that would have to.

During its first year of activity, the center collected almost 1300 warnings of discrimination cases: 236 of them were discriminations due to the disability of the person (in accordance with the 67/2006 law).

how to benefit from the service against discrimination?

If you are subjected to discrimination due to your disability or someone in your family is discriminated due to his disability or, again, if you see discrimination against someone with disability, you can point it out to the center, calling 026570425 (answering from Monday to Thursday, from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm) or sending an e-mail to antidiscriminazione@ledha.it. If you just want more information about the service, please write to info@ledha.it.

“promoting, protecting and safeguarding the full and equal enjoyment of all the human rights and fundamental freedom by disabled people and promoting respect of their inherent dignity” (Art. 1, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Do you know similar initiatives in other cities and regions as well? Share them with me and I’ll be happy to talk about them!

“Io viaggio ovunque”: moving in Lombardy

Do you live in Lombardy and have a disability or are older than 65? You’d be eligible for benefiting from a favoured rate to buy “Io viaggio ovunque” (=I travel everywhere), an annual subscription on a magnetic card, allowing you to use without additional costs all the public transports both at regional and local level (including trains and subways). Useful indeed, mostly for those who- for business, study or leisure- travel daily or frequently.

COSTS and requirements

If you have a certified disability or are older than 65, you’d be eligible for buying an even more convenient card (the so called “IVOL Agevolata”, i. e. Facilitated “I travel everywhere”). Here you have the costs for the three facilitations brackets and the requirements to be entitled for them:

1st bracket – € 10.00/year

  • Invalid person due to war or service from the 1st to the 5th category
  • Deportee in Nazi death camps, with an invalidity from the 1st to the 5th category, or with a legally recognized disability not lower than 67%
  • Invalid person due to terrorism or criminality from the 1st to the 5th category or the corresponding percentage of reduction of the working capacity
  • Totally blind person (art. no. 2 138/2001)
  • Partially blind person (art. no.3 L. 138/2001)
  • Serious partially sight (art. no.4 L. 138/2001)
  • Deaf (art. no.1 381/1970)
  • 100% legally disabled person
  • Minor with disability, in accordance with the current law
  • Unable and invalid due to work reasons with a percentage starting from 80% (as certified by the INAIL minutes)
  • Victim of duty with a permanent disability not lower than 80%
  • Refugee in need (art. no. 1, n. 4, L. 763/1981)

2nd bracket – € 80.00/year

  • Invalid person due to war or service from the 6th to the 8th category, with an ISEE within 16,500 €
  • Invalid due to terrorism or criminality from the 6th to the 8th category or corresponding percentage reduction of the working capacity, with an ISEE within 16,500 €
  • Legally disabled person from 67% to 99%, with an ISEE within 16,500 €
  • Unable and invalid due to work reasons from 67% to 79%, with an ISEE within 16,500 €
  • Person older than 65, with an ISEE within 12,500 €

3rd bracket – € 699.00/year

  • Person older than 65 (without any ISEE limit)

"Io viaggio ovunque"

how to request the card

You can request the “Io viaggio ovunque” facilitated card choosing among the following procedures:

  1. downloading the request forms from the Trasporti Regione Lombardia website
  2. using the paper forms available at the post offices in Lombardy or at the SpazioRegione offices active in all the provinces
  3. directly on the dedicated website, benefiting, in this case, from a shorter timing to examine the documents

If you use the paper forms, you must fill them completely, attach the required documents (e.g. copy of the identity card) and bring or send them to the nearest SpazioRegione office.

On the contrary, if you choose the third option, you must answer all the questions that pop up on the screen (in order to identify the right facilitation bracket) and submit your request directly online (after having digitally signed it using the appropriate software, or, if not, after having printed, signed and scanned it), attaching a copy of your identity card.

tessera IVOLThe request and the documents are reviewed and, if everything is ok, within 40 days from when the request has been received, a postal payment slip is sent to the applicant, so that he can pay the subscription rate (only at a Poste Italiane office). Then, within 45 days, the card is sent directly to the applicant home. In the meanwhile, it is possible to travel using the receipt and a valid ID card. Shouldn’t the card arrive within 45 days from the payment, it’s necessary to get in touch with Regione Lombardia calling the toll-free number 800.318.318 or directly at its offices, to avoid fines.

Should the request be rejected, or the documents be found incomplete or insufficient, the applicant will receive a communication detailing the reasons for the rejection or the documents to add by the specified date.

how to activate the card

The card must be activated, as it happens for the standard urban subscriptions, using the ATM totems present in the subway stations or at the parking meters in Milan or even at the TreNord stations ticket offices and ticket validation machines.

how to renew the card

The “Io viaggio ovunque” card is annual. Right before a month to the expiry date, the Region will sent to those who keep the requirements all the documents needed for the renewal.

And what if, in the meanwhile, something should change in the requirements or personal data communicated in the past? If the variation implies to pass from a category to another, the applicant must present a new request. In all the other cases, on the contrary, he must simply communicate (through a fax or personally) the variations to the nearest SportelloRegione office.

Is everything clear? Enjoy your trip!

Expenses for healthcare and aids: how to detract them?

When living with a chronic disability, among the other things, you have also to consider the need for constant pharmacological or physical therapies and, sometimes, to buy aids (e.g. crutches or walking sticks) enabling you to be more autonomous. They can also have high costs, but here is the good news: most of those expenses (and many more) can be deducted, both for you and for your dependent relatives.

You can entirely deduct from your income, displaying the fiscal receipt or the invoice:

  • general medical expenses, e.g. for unbranded drugs and not-specialized medical services
  • “specific assistance” expenses, i.e. those related to assistance (e.g. for nurses or hospital attendants) and physiotherapy or occupational therapy. If who benefits from the assistance is in a hospital or an ad hoc care institute, only the medical and paramedical expenses related to the assistance itself can be deducted, not the entire boarding costs: then, it’s essential to request documents that report separately the specific expenses.

 

Healthcare expenses

Furthermore, you can benefit from a 19% Irpef deduction for:

  • specialized healthcare costs (e.g. blood tests, diagnostic tests, specialized medical examination and surgery), for the part exceeding the €129,11 allowance;
  • expenses to buy aids and artificial limbs for walking purpose, armchair for not-walking people, apparels for the containment of hernias or fractures, or orthopaedic corsets;
  • expenses to transport the disabled person by ambulance;
  • expenses to build ramps removing the architectonical barriers inside and outside the disabled person home, provided that you haven’t benefited from the fiscal facilitation for this kind of interventions as per the 13/89 law or, if so, for the exceeding part (if applicable);
  • expenses to adapt the elevator, so that it can contain wheelchairs;
  • expenses to buy technical and IT aids, to improve the disabled people self-sufficiency and facilitate their inclusion;
  • expenses to buy apparels needed to accompany the disabled people and to support their walking and lifting;
  • expenses for interpreting services paid by deaf people, always presenting the fiscal receipts released by the interpreters.

Then, carefully store prescriptions, invoices and fiscal receipts: the Income Revenue Authority could request them in order to let you benefit from the facilitations!

Farfalla project: accessibility passes through the web too

Have you noticed the small wheel icon on the right top of the page, on your PC monitor or mobile device screen, and wondering what it is? I’ll tell you: it’s the Farfalla project, a web app enabling, on one hand, the website developers or admins to add features to improve accessibility and, on the other hand, web users with special needs (partially blind people, with movement or reading issues) to access tools allowing them to improve their surfing experience.

Farfalla project

How much does it cost? Nothing: it’s 100% free, because Farfalla is an open software, distributed by GNU Affero General Public License (GNU AGPL), designed and developed by Andrea Mangiatordi, in companionship with professionals and companies, including Jobmetoo.

Let’s explore together the features Farfalla enables to add to the websites:

  • Farfalla: features

    Farfalla: features

    Virtual keyboard on screen, multilingual and designed for people with movement issues

  • Text size control, enabling to increase or decrease the text size on the web page you’re visiting
  • Contrast and colour mix control, for visually impaired people
  • Bigger mouse pointer, to surf easier among the sections of the websites
  • Better legibility, through increased spacing among letters

In order to activate each feature, you simply have to click on the wheel icon and move the white pointer along the bar. Through the star symbol, you can also save the settings for future visits on the website using Farfalla.  Many websites (including Move@bility!) use Farfalla already. But how to do with those that still don’t have it? It’s easy: simply download and install the app toolbar on the browser you normally use to surf the web, following the instructions available on the official website of the project for each browser.

And what if you don’t want to constantly use Farfalla, but only when needed? In that case, simply install the bookmarklet (from here), dragging its rectangular tag on the bookmarks bar or, as an alternative, right-clicking and saving the link among the bookmarks. In that case, when you need to enable a feature of the app, just click on its icon in the bookmarks bar et voilà!

It’s easy, isn’t it?

No Barriere: the app to point architectonical barriers out

A few days ago, in Rome took place the launch of “No Barriere”, the app developed by the Luca Coscioni Association to improve the urban spaces accessibility, for the disabled citizens, but not just for them.

Barriere app

The app principle of operation is easy:

  1. First, download the app on your smartphone (it’s available for free both for IOS and Android devices) or use the web browser version and create your user profile adding name, surname, e-mail address and phone number, or using your Google of Facebook existing account.
  2. Activating the Position services and using your smartphone camera, you can take a picture of an architectonical barrier (or pick it from the gallery of your device) and, through the “Invia una segnalazione” (“Send a warning”) area, send it to the system, that will add it to the Warnings map, available on the app itself. Moreover, from the same area, you can send a pre-filled e-mail message to your municipality, to demand the barrier removal.
  3. In the Warnings map, the existing architectonical barriers are marked in red, while green is used for those that have been removed already.

The app goal isn’t simply to map all the existing architectonical barriers, but also (and above all), ensure that local administrations do something to remove them.

Even though the current law about architectonical barriers dates back to 1986, and, in theory, all the local administrations have arranged the so-called PEBAs (Plans for the Removal of Architectonical Barriers), everyone can see that, too frequently, accessing public and private buildings, but also streets and common spaces, is impossible for people with a motoric or sensory disability. It happens due to the existence of architectonical barriers, or, in many cases, the realization of measures that aren’t adequate to guarantee the accessibility to all the people.

Since, when thinking about “disabled people”, people usually tend to think about people moving on wheelchairs. Hence (in theory), it would be enough to put a ramp here and there to remove the obstacles. But, for many disabled people, the ramp itself is an architectonical barrier, especially if it’s too steep or has no handrail available (for people walking with crutches or sticks) or signal for blind and deaf people.

Therefore, this app is more than welcome, if it will effectively contribute to improve the life of the whole community, thanks to the contribution of all citizens. Since a city without architectonical barriers is a more accessible, and better, place for everyone.

Architectonical and cultural barriers: no more!

The biggest obstacle to the effective inclusion of everyone, despite their specific condition, is the existence of barriers, both architectonical and cultural, that, in spite of the undeniable and numerous progresses made throughout the years, still heavily weigh on many people lives.

Whoever has had, even temporarily, to deal with a physical or sensory disability, but also elderly people and parents with little children know how often, during the day, it happens to bum pinto obstacles while walking around: lack of ramps (or unsuitable ones); vehicles left in front of the existing ramps; staircases or single steps without a handrail; shops, meeting points or (that’s worse) public services without an accessible entrance; elevators (if any) always out of order or dirty and smelly; public transports that are accessible only in theory, and so on. The list of architectonical barriers is, virtually, unlimited.

barriere

Yet, law speaks clearly, starting from the Italian Republic Constitution, whose art. 3 states:

It is responsibility of the Republic to remove the economic and social obstacles that, limiting freedom and equality among citizens, block the people full development and the effective participation of all the workers in the political, economic and social organization of the Country

Throughout the years, many other measures have ratified the need and the duty, both for public authorities and private businesses, to do all they can to remove architectonical barriers.

The 13/89 Law regulates also the architectonical barriers removal in private buildings, foreseeing facilitations and contributions to improve their accessibility, when they host people with permanent disablements or functional limits.  The Irpef rate deduction for such activities is equal to:

  • 50%, to be calculated on a maximum amount of 96,000 euros, if the cost has been paid between June 26th 2012 and December 31st 2016;
  • 36%, to be calculated on a maximum amount of 48,000 euros, for costs paid starting from January 1st 2017.

The activities that can benefit from deductions include, for instance: an outdoor elevator (in a building where it would be impossible to have one indoor), stairlifts or ramps to access the building or the apartment where the interested person lives.

But there’s still a long way to go, in order to reach the effective and full accessibility in our cities, and there are a lot of barriers to be removed as well, first of all cultural ones.

In these days, social media are giving a big echo to the news of the TripAdivisor user who issued a negative review for a resort in the Abruzzi, just because it had hosted a group of disabled people who, according to the user, had “disturbed” the serenity of the holiday, both for him and his children.

This is just an example of ordinary intolerance towards who, for whatever reason, is “different”. Only if we go beyond those cultural barriers and recognize the need to get to know with anybody else (including people with serious disabilities) for the development of our society, it will be possible to effectively overthrow the physical obstacles and achieve the full accessibility.