Sanremo 2021 and the narration of disabilities

Let me first say that I’m not a huge fan of Sanremo Festival, or of variety shows in general. Nevertheless, today I’m talking about it since this year it also talked about disability, during one of its nights, with two “themed” interventions: the monologue by the actress Antonella Ferrari and the little show between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Donato Grande, bomber of the Italian national power-chair football team. Two very different moments, both for their “format” and for their style: on one hand, Antonella Ferrari’s mologue, focused on her disease (multiple sclerosis)  and on the narration of her path to the right diagnosis; on the other hand, the “duet” between the A.C. Milan champion and his “sitting” colleague, with a few passage of the ball in favor of cameras. But, in both cases, watching the videos, I’ve found some “dissonances”, more or less evident. Let’s analyze them more in detail, to understand what I mean.

Antonella Ferrari a Sanremo 2021

Antonella Ferrari presented herself on Sanremo’s stage wearing a very elegant red dress, with a short, very engaging monologue narrating her path to the diagnosis and, then, her happiness, when she, finally, had not to “hide herself” anymore (did she feel ashamed? Was she afraid of what others might think? We don’t know), reaching the climax at the end: “My disease hasn’t to be the main character. I’m not my multiple sclerosi: I’m an actress, I’m Antonella Ferrari”. That’s true and totally right. But, then, why did she focus her monologue exclusively on that topic?Of course she wanted to raise awareness towards it. But are we sure that it has been the message that reached the viewers? Judging by the comments I read on social media the day after, I don’t think so: they were totally positive, praising her courage, her “example” and so on with the same old rhetoric surrounding who lives with a disability.

Donato Grande a Sanremo 2021

But that’s still “nothing” compared with what we saw when it was the turn of Donato Grassi, with Amadeus and Zlatan Ibrahimovic: he wearing casually (jeans and his football shirt), in the middle of the other two men in evening clothes (as that occasion would have required); a situation that, on the whole, seemed more an interaction among two adults and a kid (obviously, the kid was intended to be the man with a disability…) rather than among three adult men and the feeling that, rather than a tribute to Donato and his sport ability, it was a way to highlight his much more famous colleague. Not to mention Amadeus who had started, all in all, well, but then slipped in many occasions: from talking about the rights of those “suffering from disability“(it is a condition, not a disease…), to “handicapped“, to the paternalistic lecture to those who, using the parking lots reserved to disabled people, cause troubles to those who would be entitled to use them (his original words were “slightly” different…). In short, again the same old rhetoric…

How can it be possible that, in 2021, we are still unable to show and talk about disabilities avoiding the dualism among “superheroes” and “poor fellows”? Yet, it would be so easy… You’d just have to remember that beind different is absolutely normal, there’s no need to use childish language and attitude: respect for people is enough, in short.

Will we make it? I hope so,  despite all.”Perché Sanremo è Sanremo“…

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.


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.