Local Guides, the Google program for accessibility

How many times did yo go out with your friends or your partner, thinking to enjoy a night in a  trendy public place and, once you got there, you realized that your night wasn’t going to be that happy-go-lucky, due to one too many architectonical barrier? Wouldn’t it be great to have the chance to choose a public place being aware in advance of its accessibility? It’s possible, thanks to Google Maps. Joining the Local Guides program, each Maps user will have the chance to point out, in a few clicks on his smartphone or desktop, the accessibility of the local places in his city. Isn’t it wonderful?

Local Guides

Picture ©Google

HOW TO JOIN local guides?

Joining the  crowdsourcing Local Guides program is easy:

  • Go to Google Maps (from your browser or, if you use the smartphone, from the app)
  • After having logged into your Google account (if you haven’t done it already), choose from the drop-down menu “Your contributions
  • Then, you’ll be invited to join Local Guides: click on “Start” to accept and specify the city you live in
  • In order to share your reviews about the accessibility of public places, you’ll have to activate the Location history, clicking on the appropriate link on your device
  • Now, you’ll be invited to share a review about the places you visited and, if you want, to answer a few questions about their accessibility. For instance, if that place is accessible to people using a wheelchair, or other (you can find some examples here).
local guides

Picture ©Google

For each review you’ll share, you’ll earn some points and, bit by bit, you’ll reach a higher level. The points you’ll earn will enable you to access advantages such as the chance to have new features in advance. But, most importantly, you’ll have the satisfaction of doing something good for other people, with a little effort. Since a more accessible world isn’t good just for who has any disability, but for the whole community!

Pension: 2017 social security benefits for disabled workers

Do you have a disability and are starting to think about  when you can retire? Good news for you: for workers with a disability equal or higher than 80%, the laws currently in force gives the opportunity to retire (both old-age or early pension) some years earlier, compared with the general age, which is currently fixed to 66 years and 7 months for old-age pension or 42 years and 10 months of contribution for the early pension (41 years and 10 months for women).



Private businesses employees with a disability not lesser than 80% can access the old-age pension at 60 if men and 55 if women provided that they have at least 20 years of contribution, as per the art. 1, sub. 8 of the Dlgs 503/1992. Starting from 2013, these requirements adjust according to life expectancy, then, in the period 2016-2018, men must reach at least 60 years and 7 months and women 55 years and 7 months of age. But pay attention: you must wait for the 12 months mobile time window to open to get the first pension rate, contrary to what currently happens in the general law, that abolished the annual time windows starting from 2012.

Furthermore, the article 80, sub. 3 of the 388/2000 law allows deaf workers, certified disabled (no matter the reason) with at least 74% of disability, disabled veterans, disabled people due to war and service in public administrations with a disability included in the first four categories of the AA table attached to the unique text of laws about war pensions (DPR 915/1978) to request, for each working yeartwo months of imputed contributions. This benefit is valid only for the periods of working as employees (both for the public administration and private businesses), not for autonomous workers or for contributions related to the redemption of  non-working periods (for instance, the years of university studies).

Starting from this year, furthermore, there are two additional benefits linked to pension. The first is the chance, for workers with a disability equal or higher than 74%, starting from 63 years old, to obtain the so-called social APE,  a subsidy to accompany ’til the old-age pension supplied by the Government. The subsidy value is equal to the amount of the pension matured at the time of access to it, within a maximum of 1,500 gross € per month. To be eligible for it, the worker must have at least 30 years of OACP. As an alternative, should it be a more favourable condition than the social APE, the workers with at least 41 years of OACP (regardless of gender and age) who worked for at least 12 months before 19 years of age (the so-called premature workers) can access the early pension.

My Voice: the app that gives voice back to people affected by ALS

Getting sick of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), or any other neuromuscular disease, doesn’t only imply the onset of motoric (‘til the total stillness) and respiratory, but also the progressive loss of a fundamental function in daily life, helping people to express their needs and feelings: the voice. From the will to fix this problem arises My Voice, the app for smartphones and tablets developed by the laboratory of the Niguarda hospital’s Centro Nemo in Milan, a reference point for people with neuro-degenerative diseases and for their families. The app has been developed in companionship with McCann, a well-known advertising agency.

My Voice

My Voice works as a sort “time bank”, allowing people affected by ALS to record words that can be used to express daily needs (e.g., cold, hot, hunger, thirst), but also sentences for their loved ones: “I love you”, “I like you”, etc. Sentences that, once you’ve lost the ability to pronounce the words, it would be impossible to say, thanks to the app, can be stored and downloaded on a communicator: the person affected by ALS will be able to switch it on, through a simple eye movement. Therefore, sort of “messages in a bottle”, to be draw out to find again, even just for a few seconds, the feelings that only a natural voice (hotter and with many more expressive hints than the metallic sound of a communicator) can fully express.

messaggio in bottiglia

My Voice is available both for Android and IOS devices, for just 2 €. The app sales proceeds will entirely used to fund the activities of Centro Nemo. The app launch video (see below), with Alberto Spada (42 years old man affected by ALS and first one to use the app) as the special testimonial, was presented at the International Creativity Festival in Cannes.

Moreover, My Voice aims to fund the One bank for your own voice” project, to improve the life of people with verbal communication problems, providing them with an added value compared with the existing Alternative Augmentative Communication systems.

“Lombardia Facile”, an easier region for all

Since a few weeks, citizens of Lombardy with a disability can enjoy the use of a brand new service: “Lombardia Facile”, the portal that will collect info, as the project’s name itself suggests, that could make the disabled people daily life easier.

"Lombardia Facile"

From welfare to work and education, from tourism to sport and leisure: on “Lombardia Facile”, you’ll be gradually able to find info about laws, facilitations and services available for resident citizens and tourists with a disability in Lombardy.

Arisen from the companionship between Regione Lombardia and associations and organizations representing and defending the rights of various categories of people with motoric and sensory disabilities, the “Lombardia Facile” project wants to remove all the obstacles and barriers (both physical and informational) that, nowadays, complicate the life of people with disability or special needs.

The portal pays particular attention to subjects such as mobility and accessible tourism. On “Lombardia Facile”, you can find a search engine to access info about the accessibility of monuments, museums and other places of artistic and cultural interest in Lombardy.

Moreover, on the website you can find info about another service, active since 2001, dedicated to disabled people: SpazioDisabilità, offering consultancy services about various topics related to disability. SpazioDisabilità is addressed both to disabled people and their families and caregivers. These services has been redesigned as well and the goal is to create a front office system widespread all over the region, opening other info points in all the administrative centres, in addition to the one today available at the HQ or Regione Lombardia. Starting from next year, those who will turn to SpazioDisabilità will have another service too: the video-chat in LIS (the Italian Sign Language), that will give deaf people the opportunity to communicate with the front office operators intermediated by a LIS interpreter connected through videoconference.

In conclusion, important progresses are in place towards accessibility and inclusion of all the citizens. We hope similar initiatives will be activated in other regions too. Are you aware of some? Please, inform me!

Pedius: the telephone for deaf people

Nowadays, communication is fundamental, most of all through phone and web. All of us has at least a smartphone in his pocket and we use it, practically, for everything: to find a path or an info, to get in touch with family and friends, to shop online, etc. The apps make all these activities easier. But for some of them it’s still essential to interact, also by phone, with real people: for instance, when your car stops, maybe on an isolated road outside the city, where rarely passes someone to ask for help to. An obvious question arises: how could a deaf person deal with events like this, maybe in emergency, without anyone to act as an intermediary between him/her and the operator on the other side of the phone? The simple and effective question is Pedius, the app for Android and IOS devices that provides deaf people with “ears and voice”, when they have to communicate by phone.

HOW PEDIus works

Pedius working principles are quite easy: the user normally calls the service he needs, but, while the operator answers normally, he reads that answer as a text and answers back through a normal text messaging service, that’s translated into words by a speech synthesizer, using the voice of the user or the standard one (based on the app settings). In other words, Pedius acts as a “bridge” between the deaf person and his/her interlocutor, preserving his/her privacy and autonomy (we all know how embarrassing can be asking someone else to make “certain calls” on our behalf).

Pedius come funziona

To use Pedius, you just have to download the app (for free) from your device official app store and sign a subscription (the prices- absolutely affordable- are available on the app official website).  


Pedius was developed in 2012 by a young newly-graduated in IT, Lorenzo di Ciaccio, who had had the intuition watching on TV the story of a deaf person who, involved in a car accident, hadn’t been able to call the emergency services and, so, had had to wait for a long time, before someone arrived to help him. Then, Lorenzo had the idea to create something that could help overthrow even these “digital barriers”, as much important and “heavy” as the architectonical and cultural ones we often talk about.

Pedius abbatte le barriere digitali

Pedius, as of now, is available in 6 languages: Italian, English, German, Spanish, French and Portuguese. So, it can be very useful also while travelling (for business or leisure purposes) abroad.

Accessibility: Kimap maps Bologna too

We already talked, some time ago, about Kimap, the digital ecosystem developed by Kinoa srl aiming to map the architectonical barriers in our cities, paying particular attention to the accessibility for people with a motoric disability. After Florence, now it was Bologna’s turn. Here, the mapping process involved the streets that, starting from the Central Station, lead to the most important monuments and the centre of the city and the university area. Overall, the Kimappers mapped the accessibility of about 8 km of streets daily traversed by tourists and citizens.

Accessibility map of Bologna

Mapping of the centre of Bologna

The green dots represent a good level of accessibility for the street, the yellow ones indicate small obstacles and vibrations averagely impacting on the path, the red ones indicate a danger registered through very emphasized vibrations of the wheelchair and through obstacles or stairs that are difficult to avoid. Then, the red symbol with the wheelchair indicates the presence of architectonical barriers, the purple one with the skittle the presence of a temporary obstacle, while the orange symbol signals a slope that’s hard to traverse.

As always, all the job has been carried out with the precious contribution of the Kimappers, the community of users and volunteers (whose number constantly grows) who daily share paths, obstacles, experience and tourist itineraries that are accessible also for people who, to move, uses a wheelchair or other aids.

Kimap - smartphone app

The Kimap project sure doesn’t stop here: the next steps include the release of the free app on the most important stores for mobile devices and further tests in the most renowned tourist cities in our Country. The next stage has been decided already: i twill be Rome, our capital city, that attracts millions of tourists from all over the world. A big challenge, indeed, given the particular features of the wonderful (but not very accessible indeed) “eternal city”!

We’ll talk about it for sure on this website, of course: stay tuned!

“Corsie gialle e Ztl”: an app that makes life easier

Once again, technology helps people with a disability. We’ve already talked about some app with this goal, for instance those used to identify or point out architectonical barriers. Today, we’ll talk about “Corsie gialle e Ztl” (“Yellow lanes and controlled traffic zones“), the app that allows to speed up the procedure to request the permit to access the controlled traffic zones, increasingly present in our cities, and to fast tracks.

driving a car

Car drivers with a disability who have the specific blu permit, can access:

  • the controlled traffic zones
  • the lanes reserved for buses and cabs 
  • the pedestrian areas, provided that other type of vehicles can access them, particularly those used for public transport services
  • in case of block, interruption or limitation to circulation due to public safety, public interest or against pollution, for instance during eco-friendly Sundays or  even and odd numbers of license plates.

Usually, to access a controlled traffic zone, you must follow a quite complex procedure and communicate your intention to circulate in that given zone to the appropriate offices of your Municipality, sending, through fax or e-mail: your license plate data, the day and the time slot you want to circulate and a copy of the specific documents requested by your Municipality (for instance, you can find here the web page with the forms to send your request to the Municipality of Milan).

This procedure can definitely be made faster and simplified thanks to “Corsie gialle e Ztl”. The app, which is currently available for Android devices, enables you to send, in a few steps, all the requested info to get the authorization to access the controlled traffic zone of the city you’re interested in. You can see how in this short video:

Through the”Corsie gialle e Ztl” app, you can:

  • scan the documents, needed to send the circulation request, even using your smartphone camera
  • import from the photo gallery of your device the images of the documents, if you have previously scanned them
  • select the city, the date, the time slot of your transit and the license plate of your car to prepare the e-mail message that will be sent to the Municipality where the controlled traffic zone or the yellow lanes are located
  • license plate and documents scans are stored into the app so that you don’t need to upload them every time you need.

"Corsie gialle e Ztl"

 To make a long story short, you can do everything in a few clicks, in an easy and fast way.  Isn’t it an advantage?

Kimap: technology supporting accessibility

It would be great to be able to go around without bumping into any architectonical barrier, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s impossible to make this dream come true in a short while. Then, what do we have to do? Accepting the status quo and wait for a magic wand to remove all the obstacles or doing something concrete? The Kimap creators chose the second option.

Kimap logo

Kimap - app per smartphone

What’s Kimap? It’s an “anti-barriers” digital ecosystem, made up by an app for smartphones (that will soon be available both for Android and IOS devices) helping to map the architectonical barriers and serve as a “barrier-free” GPS, helping people with disability to easily move along the mapped paths, a user-friendly IoT (Internet of Things) device, that improves the results of mapping, keeping them constantly up-to-date, and a community of users that confirm or update live le info obtained through the mapping process. Kimap has been promoted and designed by Kinoa, an innovative start-up founded one year ago to design innovative products integrating Big Data and Internet of Things technologies.

A few days ago, in Florence, the Kimap creators organized the first “live”mapping of the city, companioning with the kimapper Armando Dei, who covered on his wheelchair some strategic points of the city both for tourists and citizens moving for business, study and other reasons. The mapping involved: the Campo di Marte railway station, Piazza Beccaria towards the old town centre and the Sant’Ambrogio market; via Maragliano, piazza San Jacopino and Viale Redi, Ponte Vecchio, Piazza Pitti, Santo Spirito and Piazza del Carmine.


The kimapper Armando Dei

The mapping allowed to obtain various maps in real time, directly stored on the kimapper’ smartphone. They assess the architectonical barriers using three colours: the green dots indicate a street with a good accessibility level; the yellow ones indicate small obstacles and minimum risk of vibrations during the path; finally, the red dots indicate a sign of primary risk registered by very strong vibrations of the wheelchair and by obstacles and stairs hard to overcome. Moreover, black is used to mark “not-accessible” roads, that cannot be safely covered due to the lack of sidewalks and/or a very damaged asphalt. Using the Kimap app, the user can also point out other temporary obstacles, building sites and slopes that are hard to face.

Kimap la mappa

The map of Campo di Marte’s area

The Kimap project has just started and the team is still working on the app and on the device improvement. After Florence, real time mappings will be carried out in other cities, companioning with associations, universities and local administrations. It’s gonna be a long and complex job, but the premises to success are excellent. Good luck, Kimap!


Telephony: all the facilitations for users with disability

We’ve talked about the facilitations foreseen by the law to buy computers and other technological apparels already. But maybe you don’t know that there are facilitations dedicated to disabled people for landline and mobile phone rates and to surf the Internet as well. A deliberation issued by the Authority for Communications on October 3rd 2007 defines convenient rates and discounts for the telephony users with a sensory (visual or auditory) disability and for the families including member with these disabilities. A recent update further extends these facilitations.

Landline and Internet

landline telephony

Here you have the facilitations for disabled users for their home telephone line (Internet included).

  • 50% discount on the monthly rate for elderly, disabled people and users with “special social needs” and for all the offer packages including Internet traffic– To benefit from it, the family must include an “over-75” or disabled member, or someone receiving a social pension or an unemployed head of the family. Moreover, the total family “ISEE” mustn’t exceed 6713,93 €.
  • Total exemption from paying the monthly rate for deaf people – Reserved to people holding the deaf certificate (Law 381/1970) and eligible for the communication allowance, if owners of the subscription, or to the subscriber living with the deaf person. To benefit from it, you must present the “family status certificate” (even self-certifiable), together with the medical certificate of the deafness and eligibility for the communication allowance.
  • Facilitations for blind people – Telephone operators must recognize 90 hours per month of free Internet traffic from home, in case of consumption-based rates, or a 50% discount on the monthly rate, in case of “flat” subscriptions. The facilitations, previously reserved to totally blind people only, have been recently extended to partially blind people too, presenting the appropriate certificates. As for the facilitations for deaf people, in this case you can benefit from them also when the subscription is owned by someone living with the blind person.

Mobile telephony

mobile telephony

  • Exemption from paying the license tax, usually owed for mobile telephony subscriptions.
  • Offer package dedicated to deaf or (totally or partially) blind users– This rate must include an appropriate amount of data traffic for an affordable price, not exceeding 50% of the best price for all the offer packages including the same amount of data traffic.
  • For deaf users – The law foresees at least 20 Gb of data traffic, in addition to at least 50 free SMS per day.
  • For visually impaired users – The law foresees an offer including 2000 minutes of free voice traffic and at least 10 Gb of data traffic.

Telephone companies will have to make these favoured rates available by 120 days since the January 2017 Agcom deliberation entered into force. In the meantime, the existing facilitations foreseen by each operator for disabled users remain valid. For more information, please refer to the website of each operator.

But it’s clear that a huge portion of users with disability is still out of those facilitations. For those people, telephone (most of all the mobile one) is an essential tool for social and work inclusion. When will there be fares for motoric disabled people too?

Fiscal facilitations for disabled people: what’s new in 2017

The Income Revenue Authority has recently made available the updated version of its Guide to the Fiscal Facilitations for People with Disability (you can download it for free in PDF format here). The January 2017 update includes 3 main news:

So, let’s see in detail the news about the fiscal facilitations for disabled people for 2017.

agevolazioni fiscali 2017

fiscal facilitations: expenses for healthcare and aids

In this case, the news about fiscal facilitations for 2017 concerns the documents to present in order to benefit from them.  Specifically, those whose invalidity or handicap has been certified by a commission (as per the 104/92 law) may use a self-certification, specifying who and when certified their invalidity or handicap. Of course, it’s always possible that, at a later time, you are required to present the documents, therefore it’s absolutely advisable not to act as “wise guys”!

You always have to save the fiscal document (sales receipt, invoice, etc.) demonstrating the expense. Moreover, in case of prostheses and aids (including the technological ones), you’d always better save the medical prescription demonstrating the need in order to improve the quality of life of the disabled person.

FISCAL facilitations: insurance POLIcies

Other news about the fiscal facilitations for disabled people concern the insurance policies including risk of death or of permanent invalidity not lower than 5% or of not being self-sufficient in the execution of the normal daily activities.  Those policies already benefited from a 19% Irpef deduction, for a maximum amount of 530 €, for the insurances including risk of death or permanent invalidity, and 1.291,14 € for those covering the risk of not being self-sufficient, respectively. The news concerns the increase from 530 to 750 € of the amount that can be deducted for the premiums deposited for people with a severe disability, that cover the risk of death.

FISCAL facilitations: architectonical barriers

Regarding interventions to remove architectonical barriers, the limits to benefit from the higher deductions have been postponed. For building renovation interventions (e.g.: elevators, goods lifts, robotics/ home automation and other technology innovations allowing to assist the internal and external mobility of people with disability), you can benefit from an Irpef deduction that’s equal to:

  • 50%, to be calculated on a maximum amount of 96,000 €, for expenses from June 26th 2012 and December 31st 2017;
  • 36%, to be calculated on a maximum amount of 48,000 €, for expenses from January 1st 2018.

As of today, conditions to benefit from all the other facilitations (for instance, buying a car) don’t change.