I’m quite sure you’ve heard about “personal branding” and how important it is, mostly nowadays, in the “social media era”, also for those who are looking for a job. In fact, in a time when the demand for a job is higher than the offer, creating and curating your own personal “brand” is crucial to stand out in the crowd: what distinguishes me from the other hundreds (or thousands) of people with the same skills and experience as mine?
“Personal branding” is important for people with a disability willing to position themselves in the job market, whether they’re looking for their first job or wish to find a new one. In order to help them succeed, Inclusive Mindset and LinkedIn (the well-known “business social network” I suggest you to sign up to, shouldn’t you have done it already) have organized a workshop where, supported by the most important experts in this field, the attendees will get to know the basics of personal branding, plus tricks to leverage social media in their job search.
workshop about personal branding: where and when?
Save the date! The workshop about personal branding is scheduled on Friday, February 15th at 5:00 PM in Milan, at LinkedIn Italy offices, in one of the skyscrapers in Porta Garibaldi. After the workshop, a cocktail will give the attendees a valuable opportunity for netwoking and exchaning useful information.
LinkedIn offices in Milan
how to attend the workshop?
In order to ensure the best experience, only a limited number of people will have the chance to attend the workshop (for free), upon registration. Are you interested in participating? Go to Inclusive Mindset’s website and fill in the registration form, also specifying if you need support (for instance, a LIS interpreter or a helper, should you have reduced mobility). What are you waiting for? Whether you’re looking for your first job or, maybe, you’re willing to find a new one, more suitable for you, don’t miss this opportunity!
We’ve had already many chances to talk about the Diversity Day, the event that facilitates the direct and personal meeting among businesses and people with various disabilities who look for a job opportunity. Following the success of Rome and Milan, this year the Diversity Day adds a new destination to its “tour”: Verona. The city of Juliet, on November 7th, will host the Recruiting Day, a day of meetings and scheduled job interviews among prestigious businesses and people with a disability willing to be known beyond the same old resume.
The Diversity Day in Milan
recruiting day: where and when?
The Recruiting Day will take place from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm in the wonderful Gran Guardia Palace, in the very heart of the city. In addition to having individual job interviews with the businesses that will participate in the event (including, just to mention a few of them: Accenture, ENI, Tigotà, Decathlon, GSK, Marriott, LIDL, Umana, Unicredit), who will participate in the Recruiting Day will also have the chance to have access to industry expert advice to review their resume and prepare themselves to the meeting with their potential employers. Moreover, as it happened during the other editions of the event, also in Verona deaf people who will request it will have two LIS interpreters at their disposal. How to request this support? It’s easy: just send and e-mail to email@example.com.
how to register to the recruiting day?
To register to the Recruiting Day in Verona, from the official website of the event, you can reach the online platform allowing to complete the registration process in a few steps, with the chance, for those who like it, to access also using their Facebook or LinkedIn profiles, so that some of the required fields will be automatically filled in. My advice? If you have a well-curated and updated LinkedIn profile (shouldn’t you have it, I suggest you to create one now, most of all if you’re looking for a job!), use that one: “social recruiting” is increasingly used by businesses!
Ready? Update your resume and LinkedIn profile, register to the event and… Good luck!
A few days ago, in the Italian cinemas, came out “Tutti in piedi” (“All stand“), a French comedy that unusually approaches a topic that movies have confronted with many times, mainly in these latest years: love and disability.
What’s unusual in “Tutti in piedi”? First of all, that, somewhat, the tables turn. Jocelyn, the male character, is the typical irredimeable lady-killer, who tries to win every woman he bumps into over. It’s exactly this “predator” instinct that leads him to meet Florence, a charming woman living a very active life, as a refined musician and a tennis champ, who, due to a motoric disability, uses a wheelchair. He immediately falls in love with her and, due to a series of misunderstandings (Florence’ sister, who lives next Jocelyn’s dead mother, having found him sitting on his mother’s wheelchair, thinks he has a motoric disability as well) ends up feeling forced to keep on with his facade, being afraid that Florence wouldn’t accept him anymore, should he show her the way he really is.
A frame from “Tutti in piedi”
That precisely represents, in many ways, a “new” element in the narration of the “standard” dynamics among disabled and non-disabled people: it isn’t Florence who feels to be “unqualified” due to her own condition, but Jocelyn, who’s afraid she wouldn’t like him anymore, should she get to know the truth about him.
The director of “Tutti in piedi”, Franc Dubosc, who also plays the role of Jocelyn, said that the idea to make a movie about disability rose from his mother’s experience, who, in her old age, ended up being unable to walk anymore and having to face the numerous architectonical barriers that, until that time, neither she or her relatives had particularly noticed. From that experience, for the director, arose a new awareness and a growing curiosity towards the daily life of people with a disability, including their relationships with others. While making the movie, he realized that, as time passed by, his fear to hurt the disabled people feelings disappeared, as he kept on shooting. So, he came to the conclusion that, ultimately, you don’t need to pay particular attention while interacting (even for romantic purposes) with a disabled person: you just have to remember that you have a person in front of you, not a disease or a tricky condition.
We all know how many architectonical barrierswho lives with a disability, but also who goes around our cities with little children or bulky luggage, has to face on a daily basis. Many of these barriers arise from disregard or carelessness (for instance, cars parked in front of ramps which enable people on a wheelchair to access a sidewalk). How to raise the awareness of the community, and, hence, of the (local and national) administrations towards the need to project spaces that are really “accessible”? An effective way can be, for instance, starting from the children, getting them used to this mindset through a game. This is the starting point of “Ciak si aggira“, a board game for children from 6 years old created by Ermio De Luca, an engineer with a disability, who, as a consequence, directly knows this issue.
The “Ciak si aggira” characters are six children: Fabio, Giorgio, Mauro, Adele, Fanny and Marta, plus the “guest star” Isotta, the wheelchair Fabio uses to move around. The six friends live together a lot of adventures and enjoy moving around the city, to discover new places: will they be able to do it without having architectonical barriers to rain on their parade?
how does “ciak si aggira” work?
The principle “Ciak si aggira” is based on is the same as the well-known game of the goose: the players, using pieces, must move along the path designed on the board, recognizing and, precisely, bypassing the architectonical barriers they bump into, also getting to know the effects that those obstacles have on the mobility of people using a wheelchair or walking sticks to move.
The game is issed by La Macina Onlus, costs € 19.50 and can be requested sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re looking for a gift idea that is funny, but also useful and smart for your children, you’ve found it!
Should you still be among the (few) people who haven’t watched it, I hope to convince you to immediately go to the cinema! Since “The shape of water“, the movie by Guillermo del Toro that won the Golden Lion at Venice International Film Festival in 2017 and four Oscar awards just a few months ago, tells a story that you’ll hardly forget, since it wrings the deepest heartstrings of everyone.
“The shape of water” is a modern fable set in Baltimore at the beginning of the Sixties, during the Cold War among the USA and the URSS. Its main characters represent various diversities: Eliza, an orphan young woman who is speechless after her vocal cords had been cut off when she was a child; Zelda, an Afro-American woman who works with Eliza as a cleaner; Giles, the old homosexual advertising illustrator living with Eliza, who is subjected to discrimination at work. Plus, of course, him: the Deus Brânquia, the “shape” the title of the movie (and of the novel that’s the other part of this project), who is worshipped as a god by the Amazonian people and has been captured and taken in chains at the State laboratory Eliza and Zelda work at, to examinate and use him against Russia. Marginalized human beings who, inevitably, meet and end up making an close and odd group.
Eliza, who succeeded establishing a relationship based on silent empathy with the creature, decides to do her best to save it from an apparently sealed destiny and, helped by Giles, Zelda and one of the laboratory scientists (who is actually a Russian spy in disguise), rescues it and takes it in her flat. Here, they end up falling in love, but, before the happy ending, they’ll have to overtake several obstacles, in a crescendo of suspense and thrill.
The end of “The shape of water” (which I won’t unveil to you) is definitely a fable, as much as the tone of the whole movie. Nevertheless, with its sensitivity and poetry, it launches a very important message, in its simplicity: beyond our differences, we all are equal and deserve to be treated (and loved) with respect and humanity.
All of us have a more or less long list of books that, for any reason, have won a special place in our hearts. My personal list also includes “Non volevo morire vergine” (“I didn’t mean to die a virgin”), the last book by Barbara Garlaschelli, issued a few months ago and already (and deservedly!) a little literary success.
The book tells the story of the writer, who became a quadriplegic when she was 15 after having bumped into a stone while she was plunging into the sea. Barbara Garlaschelli had already told her story in “Sirena (mezzo pesante in movimento)” (“Siren, heavy truck in movement”, a title that, in itself, suggests the self-deprecating tone the woman uses to describe her own condition, softening its hardest and more dramatic sides). But, this time, the perspective is quite different. In “Non volevo morire vergine”, Barbara Garlaschelli shares with her readers her sentimental and sexual education, which, soon after her accident, had seemed to her a chapter that, inevitably, was meant to stay close even being actually open.
Page by page, in “Non volevo morire vergine”, we follow Barbara’s evolution from her condition of “self-hidden” in her own armour to a young woman who becomes aware of the fact that, despite her accident and her being a disabled, still keeps her own femininity and, together with it, the possibility to please, seduce, stimulate desire and – why not?- even love in men. So, she starts a series of more or less engaging relationships (there are also some asshole, as in everyone’s life, disabled or not), ‘til she meets her Love with the capital L.
Virginity Barbara wants (and succeeds) to get rid of isn’t just the strictly sexual one, but has a wider meaning:
“A virgin not just in my body, but also of experiences, life, mistakes, successes, failures, journeys, sun”
Barbara Garlaschelli tells everything using a light style, which invites to read, but without too much censorship. It, sometimes, can floor some readers, who have still, more or less consciously, a radicated taboo that sees disabled people (and, particularly, women) as beings who, at most, inspire pity, but sure don’t have, as the writer says, “right to physical and mental pleasure, joys of life, in all its declensions” (with everything it implies, also in terms of the incomplete fulfilment of serious policies about accessibility and inclusion).
What led the writer to share such an intimate part of her life through the pages of “Non volevo morire vergine” isn’t exhibitionism, but rather her will to transmit a strong message, not just addressed to the community as a whole, but also to so many people who, more or less voluntarily, renounce love or even, simply, pleasure, convinced (maybe, not just by themselves) they cannot be subject to it.
Autism is still an almost unknown disease, both as regards its causes and, therefore, potential treatments and, generally speaking, the most suitable ways to establish a contact with who is affected by it. People with autism are often victims of bias and wrong certainties (also influenced by the way this condition has often been described in movies), as well as set aside because they’re seen as “strange” (and, then, potentially dangerous, according to many people). How can we understand the world of who lives with autism? How can we create proximity and dialogue? The “Ascolta i miei passi” (“Listen to my steps”) project, promoted by the Ortica Association in Milan aims to raise awareness towards this topic, starting from the direct listening of people with autism, who talk about themselves in short audio files, allowing others to know their daily life, their path, dreams and hopes.
During the Disability Week (November 27th – December 2nd), Ortica Association brought “Ascolta i miei passi” inside a place that, according to collective imagination, also represents “a world apart”, despite being in the heart of the city: San Vittore prison. Thanks to an agreement with the prison management, during the five meetings organized, the prisoners had the chance to listen, using headphones, the stories told directly by people with autism. Not just it: they also had the chance to identify with the storytellers reality, symbolically wearing their shoes: those of children who have already been diagnosed, training shoes of the teenager who continuously walks up and down to let his angst off or, more, the shoes of a man who would like to become the protagonist of his own life, but cannot do that due to bias.
Bias are a common issue for people with autism- or other disabilities- and prisoners, after all. If we only knew these worlds closely, we’d realize that, all in all, differences are less marked than we used to think. And that’s exactly the meaning of the name chosen for the “Ascolta i miei passi” project. As a native American proverb states:
Before you judge my life or my attitude, wear my shoes, walk the path I’ve travelled. Live my pain, my doubts, my fears, my laughs. Remember that everyone of us has his own story. When you’ve lived my life, then you can judge me
Verona: the city of Romeo and Juliet, fascinating, rich in art, history and magic. How wonderful is walking around its streets, tasting its beauty, giving yourself a rest in a café or going shopping in its city centre… But is Verona accessible for who has mobility issues?Alessia Bottone and Valentina Bazzani tried to answer this question. They are, respectively, author/director and “sitting” main character of the short film “Vorrei ma non posso: quando le barriere architettoniche limitano i sogni” (“I’d like, but I can’t: when architectonical barriers limit dreams”), which describes a day in the life of Valentina, a disabled journalist, going around her city, Verona precisely, among architectonical (and cultural) barriers.
“Vorrei ma non posso” was presented in September and, since then, thousands of people have been watching it, including myself. Since I found it decisively interesting, I decided to get in touch with Alessia and Valentina to let them directly tell me how this interesting (and very useful!) project arose.
-How did the idea of “Vorrei ma non posso” arise?
ALESSIA – I’ve been dealing since a long time, also for my job, with human rights and the direct experience of my family has led me to be particularly sensitive to topics such as autonomy and accessibility referred to people with a disability. Two years ago, I presented a draft of the film at the Massimiliano Goattin award for Young Journalists, getting a financing that allowed me to take action. Meanwhile, I had gotten in touch, through Facebook, with Valentina, reading a post where she told about the umpteenth work discrimination she had been subjected to. From virtual, we passed to real life (we both live in Verona and this made things easier) and started to film the documentary, together with Elettra Bertucco, who took care of shots.
-Which was the biggest issue you had to face while filming “Vorrei ma non posso”?
VALENTINA – Lots of architectonical barriers: from steps, that, for people moving on a wheelchair and having a limited autonomy like me, represent an often impassable limit, to the lack of ramps on sidewalks or platforms (even removable) to access shops and public places. Not to mention the lack of dressing rooms equipped with sliding doors in clothing stores: it, de facto, forces who is on a wheelchair to try the clothes in front of the other clients, regardless of our privacy… But, above all, cultural barriers: stereotypes and clichés about disabled people are still too entrenched in our country. I dream an equal opportunity life, so everyone must be granted with the same rights and opportunities, so that everyone can demonstrate his own resources, peculiarities and potential. Unfortunately, now, it isn’t so.
-What was people reaction while you were filming “Vorrei ma non posso”?
A. – While filming, not to influence them, we didn’t refer to the documentary, talking with involved people. Of course, we covered their faces with pixels, to ensure their privacy. The way the documentary has been welcomed has, frankly, surprised me: usually, when you deal with such topics, unfortunately, you find just a few people willing to listen to you. On the contrary, both during its presentation and in these months, we noticed a big interest towards the topic we chose: is it a sign that something is moving towards the right direction?
-What is still missing to reach full accessibility, that is urban spaces designed to be suitable for the needs of all citizens (including those with a motoric – both on wheelchair and not- or sensory disability)?
V. – As of now, to get the full accessibility we lack, on one hand, wisdom even during the designing phase, the effort to think spaces also like disabled people would do, or, when possible, directly involve them. But, on the other hand, we also lack the will, from the institutions, to create truly accessible environments for all, at least in public spaces. A lot has been done, but there’s still a lot to do. We disabled people can keep on creating awareness and become “active protagonists”, showing that, thanks to our commitment and our resources, we can live a normal life. It isn’t easy, mostly when, due to your own condition, you depend on someone else’s help. But we must do it.
-What has changed, after the documentary came out, in Verona?
A. – Verona was among the first Italian cities to adopt the PEBA, the Plan to Remove Architectonical Barriers. Sure, passing from intent to practice is slower than we’d like to, and the law vagueness doesn’t help: for instance, the paradox that, to equip your business with a removable platform, you must pay a tax to occupy a public area is, at least, a nonsense, isn’t it?
-How much do issues linked to accessibility weigh on the full (both social and work) inclusion of disabled people?
V. – After the middle school, even though I was keener on scientific subjects, I chose a technical school because it was the only accessible one. Over the years, things have improved: our community is more inclusive and there’s an increasing attention to spaces, to ensure they are accessible and comfortable. The biggest issue is, still, mostly cultural: we cannot accept, in 2017, that a disabled individual, a professional with an impressive resume, has a large amount of job interviews and is rejected just due to his disability! I fought so many battles to live a normal life, studying, getting graduated with top marks, collect working experience (for free), and then I’m rejected? No, I disagree! But we need institutions, associations establish a network and boost awareness, to create a really inclusive community.
Alessia and Valentina at “Vorrei ma non posso” launch event
Thanks a lot to these two wonderful women for having spotlighted again on a topic where we don’t do enough to translate intent into practice. Let’s hope to see soon the sequel of “Vorrei ma non posso”. Maybe, this time, the title could be: “I’d like… and I can!”
Presented a few days ago, Milanopertutti is live starting from today. This new web portal is part of a project promoted by Milan Municipality, companioning with various Lombard associations promoting the disabled people needs, with the goal to provide tourists with a disability or specific needs with useful info to enjoy their stay in the city.
The site is very easy to navigate, since it’s been designed complying with all the accessibility standards. There you can find info about accessibility of museums, monuments and churches having an historic and artistic value, in addition to data and links about the accessibility of the urban public transport, the most important railway stations and airports of the city, as well as tips about accessible itineraries and events, to satisfy every kind of tourist’ needs.
The portal pays a lot of attention to the deaf people needs: they can benefit from a video in LIS presenting the project and a dedicated section, with useful contacts and apps to enjoy the city without too many worries.
Milanopertutti represents another step forward in the commitment of the city to actually became “for all”, that led the city to receive the “City Access Award 2016”, appointed by the European Union to the city that stand out for their commitment to improve their accessibility.
So, is everything fine? Not exactly. There’s still a lot of road to walk, so that the city effectively becomes “for all”, both for tourists and people who live here or come daily for business or study reasons and still face too many architectonical and cultural barriers, which are hard to dismantle: services that aren’t widespread yet (for instance, elevators in the subway stations or ramps and lowered platforms on buses and trams) and that, often, even where they are, suffer from an insufficient maintenance (both in terms of functionality and, simply, of cleaning and decency), offices, shops and meeting and leisure places struggling to become really accessible to everyone, etc.
We often think that, so that a city (not just Milan) can really be “accessible”, you simply have to put ramps and elevators here and there (and that’s important, indeed!). But we all might learn to look at the spaces with the users’ eyes, considering that not all the disabled people use wheelchairs. So, for instance, the ramp, that’s fundamental for people using a wheelchair (of course, if it’s designed correctly), for those who walk on their own legs, but need to use crutches (or other similar aids) can represent an even more insuperable obstacle, compared with a simple step.
Milanopertutti has just started its journey, so, for the moment, I just welcome this new tool. But I cannot avoid wishing that, over the years (hopefully, not centuries) it could grow and answer the autonomous mobility needs of all the disabled people, and not just them. Since we can’t forget this: a city (and, broadening our focus with a little bit of ambition, a world) fitting for all isn’t just good for a limited part of the community (disabled and elderly people, children), but represents an advantage for the whole community.
Who daily lives with any disability and has- for business, study or leisure reasons- to take the train, knows how tricky this experience can be, even though the availability of assistance services is granted in the overwhelming majority of the Italian railway stations.
Milan Central Station
On the occasion of the XV National day for the architectonical barriers removal, on October 1st, RFI (Italian Railway Network), companioning with FIABA, a non-profit association that has been fighting for years to remove architectonical barriers, officially announced its plan to improve its stations accessibility and usability for all the passengers.
Planned interventions include:
elevating sidewalks (55 cm from the platform plan) to make it easy hopping on and off the trains;
redeveloping passages and building new ramps to access the platforms;
installing tactile paths and maps for visually impaired passengers;
building new platform roofs and redeveloping the existent ones.
Milan Central Station gallery
Furthermore, public information systems, both video and audio, will be improved, installing new monitors and sound diffusion systems and improving the station signage and lighting. The plan also includes interventions on the stations access areas, building parking lots, stalls for 2-wheels vehicles stop and appropriate systems facilitating the travellers hopping on and off, without bicycles on their shoulders. Digital technologies will also be more used, to improve the “user experience” for all the passengers, speeding up the access to platform and the electronic ticket validation and making it easier to find real time info about train circulation and more.
Renewal and removal of architectonical barriers interventions, in 2017, will involve 50 railway stations all over Italy and likewise in 2018. Is that going to be enough to, at last, ease train commuting for all the passengers? We do hope so!
What’s your experience travelling by train and in the stations? Let’s share it in the comments!