School and disability, between excellence and chronic deficiency

September: in these days, school gates open again all over Italy and, among the students sitting at the desks, there are also more than 235 thousand with a disability (about 3% on the total), almost equally distributed among nursery school, primary school, grammar school and high school. But is the school ready to welcome and support them, so that they can fully exercise their right to education?

Italy is the leading country for school inclusion of disabled students, to the extent that, at the beginning of 2016, it received an official recognition by the UN. Indeed, while they are still present in countries such as Spain and Germany, here in Italy the so-called “special classes” (real ghettos inside the “normal” schools, where students with physical or cognitive disabilities and those who experienced another kind of disadvantage were enclosed) are, now (and luckily), just a past thing, since they were abolished in 1977, when new flexible educational models were introduced, aiming to promote the integration among all the students, beyond their peculiarities, using, where needed, also specialized teachers. The 104/92 law further emphasized the importance of integrating the disabled students of all levels into normal classes.

school and disability

A long way has been walked also as regards removing architectonical barriers, during the years, with more than 80% of schools having stairs and bathrooms suitable for physically disabled people. Things get slightly worse when we look at expedients for sensory disabled people and accessibility of internal and external spaces: only 30% of schools, as a matter of fact, are equipped with visual, acoustic and tactile signage, while a little bit more than 40% has easily accessible paths.

Another not exactly rosy chapter regards those who’d assist students with particularly severe disabilities and special needs teaching assistants, who are essential to ensure access to didactics and inclusion to students with cognitive disabilities. Every year, punctually, there’s a raging controversy because they’re not enough to ensure adequate assistance to all the students who would need it. Unfortunately, there are also issues about their training, often inadequate to the specific needs of the students they’d be supposed to assist. Not to mention the fact that, if being a teacher, more than just a job, is a matter of vocation (or a real “mission”, as some say), that’s even more so for those who, due to their specific role, have to deal with particularly tricky students, often unable to collaborate: without a proper training and if they live their role just as a way to “earn money”, it’s easy to get discouraged, leave students to their own devices, contributing to ghettoize them, instead of including them into the school system, which is the fundamental harbinger of their full and successful inclusion in the community.

Accessibility of live music events: Alice’s thesis

Alice Cerafogli

Months ago, casually, while I was navigating on the Internet, I bumped into the questionnaire of a girl who was about to graduate and was collecting info about a topic that’s close to my heart: accessibility of live music events for people with any disability. Of course, I filled the questionnaire and invited also Move@bility followers on social media to do so, since I think that full inclusion of people with disability into the social context also passes through leisure. That girl is Alice Cerafogli, 25 years old, who in a few days will discuss her thesis to get the specialized degree in Performing Arts Management and Entertainment at Bocconi University in Milan. From my answers to that questionnaire arose a mail exchange, based on the interested we shared. Now that she has completed her research, here we are to share it with Move@bility readers.

Hi Alice, how did you choose to talk about the accessibility of live music events for disabled people as a subject for your thesis?

Hi! I’ve always wished to work in music industry and concerts organization, so I chose this course of studies. During university, I became interested in accessibility and, particularly, I began studying accessible tourism thanks to a course I attended during my exchange period in Australia, at the University of Technology of Sydney (UTS). I was very impressed by the amount of initiatives promoted for disabled tourists there, so, once I got back to Italy, I wondered what the picture was like in our country and if there was a change to be inspired by the Australian example. Since I’m very keen on live music, I chose to study the topic of concerts accessibility.

How did you structure the analysis for your thesis about accessibility of live music events?

In addition to sharing the online questionnaire, which collected answers from many websites and associations working with disabled people, I interviewed some representatives of these associations and of important companies which organize musical events all over Italy. My goal was to get a picture that was as more complete and stick to the actual situation as possible.

accessibility of live music events

In your opinion, in view of the results of your analysis, what is the biggest obstacle disabled people have to face if they want to attend a concert, in Italy?

Based on the results I got through my research, I think that one of the main issues to face for disabled people willing to attend a concert is to find the info they need to access the tickets and be “prepared” to what’s waiting for them during the night of the show. Events’ promoters often adopt similar, but note identical, procedures, to ensure accessibility of live music events and each venue has different features that can affect the procedures to reserve, pick up the tickets, have your seat assigned and so on.  I think that fixing standard rules, valid all over the national territory, and make official communications clear and complete could help not only disabled people and their companions, but also the promoters themselves to better manage and more effectively all the spectators and the event overall.

In your analysis, you say that, besides promoters, also venues hosting live music events “set the rules”. As a woman with a motoric disability (even though I can walk autonomously) who loves attending both live music and sport events (usually, in Milan and around, then, ultimately, in a privileged situation, compared with other areas in Italy), many times, even though I had followed all the steps indicated by promoters of the event I was interested in, I had unpleasant surprises in loco: seats reassigned to other (not disabled) people (in the reserved area…), seats assigned in areas not reached by elevators or, however, far from the stage or from playground (for sport events), parking permit next the event venue not guaranteed (a quite big issue for who, just like me, can’t walk kilometres)… and the list could go ahead. Sometimes, reaching directly out to the promoter company, in the end, I succeeded solving the issue. But it didn’t happen all times. That had negative effects not just under a physical perspective, but also under a psychological one, often resulting in mined nights for me and for my companion… What would you suggest to do to boost the awareness of venues hosting the events as well?  

The main issue, for many venues, it that they often host different events. For instance, stadiums and arenas designed to host sport events, must “swap their face to host music concerts, reconsidering their spaces. It can easily generate issues, but it isn’t fair that disabled spectators’ needs aren’t always respected. Sure, it could help if the venue staff (both permanent or temporary hired just to manage big events) was made more aware about it. For instance, associations and volunteers could join the staff or some venues and provide it with a basic training about managing disabled attendees. Even small expedients can often make a difference, together with a more aware staff, who pays more attention to anticipating the audience needs, resulting in a right way to deal with specific situations.

In your opinion, would it be possible, soon, to ensure an adequate experience (including, maybe, the chance to live the concert together with a group of friends or with the rest of the audience, instead of reserved areas) to those who have any disability (motoric, sensory, psychic) and want to attend a live music event?

The topic of areas reserved to disabled people particularly impressed me, since, based on the data I collected, it represents one of the main reasons of crash among disabled audience and promoters. On one hand, I think that all the attendees could have the opportunity to choose where attending the concert and together with as many friends as they like. However, on the other hand, I understand that promoters must ensure safety of all the audience in case of emergency and, therefore, they need to ask the disabled people to attend the show from a reserved and controlled area. I think safety must be priority #1, but I’d like there were more reserved seats for disabled people and their companions, maybe not just in one area, but in different ones (at least, in biggest venues, where reserved seats are really too few compared with the demand for tickets).

I can only agree with you! What would be needed, also under a cultural perspective, to reach this outcome?

A huge organizational glitch to the accessibility of live music events is the commercial interest. However, during my searches, I discovered that many disabled people would be ready to pay a fair price for accessible experiences and would have the free ticket granted just for their companion. I think that starting to look at disabled people as a market segment could take to develop interesting initiatives and, generally speaking, to improve accessibility standards of spaces and services. Obviously, we could figure out a lot of initiatives funded by the Government to boost awareness towards accessibility, but I always tend to think from “my” point of view, and, then, that of businesses and service providers.

As a professional communicator, I like your idea of an institutional campaign to boost awareness towards accessibility of live music events: how do you imagine it?

It would be great if some artists would become testimonials of a campaign aiming to boost the awareness of industry operators, but also of the rest of the audience, towards the issues that disabled spectators and their companions must face. Various studies, which I reviewed for my thesis, also show that leisure opportunities, devoting time to their own passions without too many concerns, have a positive impact on wellness, facilitating the inclusion of disabled people into the community.  After all, fun is part of life to!

Thanks a lot, Alice, for your thesis about accessibility of live music events and for this chat. Good luck with all your future projects!

Thank you and cheers to Move@bility friends!

Amsterdam: eco-friendly, transgressive…and accessible!

Let’s continue our imaginary tour of accessible Europe stopping at Amsterdam, the Netherlands’ capital city. Culturally lively, eco-friendly (just think about the huge number of bicycles you can see on the streets) and transgressive (try asking your friends the first things they link to the city… apart from tulips and Dutch clogs!), as many Northern Europe capitals, Amsterdam is certainly cutting-edge about accessibility, for people with movement issues or “special” needs (don’t be naughty, please!).

Dutch clogs - Amsterdam

Reaching Amsterdam from Italy is easy: by airplane, in a few hours, you can get to Schipol airport, enormous but absolutely suitable for all passengers, for its accessibility. To reach the city, you can use the intercity train connecting the airport to the center of Amsterdam, better booking in advance the assistance you need, since, to get on board, you must overtake three steps: you’d have the chance to request it also directly there, but be prepared to wait… for hours! Instead, if you choose a slower train, Sprinter, you can do without assistance, since the entrance is at the platform level.


Once you arrive in Amsterdam, you can breathe a sigh of relief: even though the streets are paved with small bricks, the city is suitable for people with reduced mobility, thanks to ramps facilitating going up and down the sidewalks and not so many circulating cars (in compensation, as I said earlier, there’s a lot of bicycles, but also cycle paths). Public transport is generally accessible as well: the subway network has elevators and trains at the same level as the platforms; the new trams have accessible entrances and, for any event, platforms can be pulled out by the drivers. Instead, not all the buses, so far, are accessible, but many of them have platforms that can be pulled out to allow access also to travellers on wheelchairs. But Amsterdam is a “water city”, so it would be a pity not to take a tour on one of its boats, all fully accessible. And there’s even more: if you want to take a bicycle tour, you can do it even if you use a wheelchair, renting one of the special bicycles. To plan your city tour as better as you can, you can check the local city transport company website (it’s available also in English).


The most comfortable (and convenient) way to visit Amsterdam as a tourist is the Amsterdam Card, that you can request also online and allows you to freely take public transport, but also access the most important attractions and museums in the city (in many cases, tourists with disability and their companions, but also children, can benefit from discounts). Most of the museums and of the most craved touristic destinations are accessible: from the Van Gogh Museum to Anna Frank’s home (at least in the renovated part) to the Heineken Experience, you’ll have the chance to access everywhere without too many issues. And the same is valid for most of the city restaurants and public places (here you can find detailed info about the accessibility of museums, transport and public places of the most important Dutch cities).

You just have to leave: enjoy your holiday!

PS. Have you been there and would like to share info with the other Move@bility users? You’re welcome!

Theatre-therapy, to get to know and express yourself

Theatre has always been seen as a sort of “purifying ritual” (not for nothing, Aristoteles used to say that the theatre goal was, precisely, catharsis), a form of psychotherapy, meant as an expression of human soul, with all of its shades and contradictions. The theatre-therapy arises from this perspective: a path of cure and personal growth based on a mise-en-scene” of your own past through improvisation performance, combining acting (first, the famous Stanislavskij method) and psychology (from Winnicott to Freud and Jung).


Theatre-therapy can be used almost for everybody, from children to elderly people, including people with psychic disabilities. Of course, the therapy’ goals change based on its addressees: with children, the focus in mostly on an educational perspective, while, when it comes to disabled people, the goal is rehabilitation. But, generally, the main goal of this technique is harmonizing the relationship among body, voice and mind, in the relationship with other, yourself and your own creativity. How does it work, concretely?

Theatre-therapy children

Guided by a theatre-therapist, a specialized psychologist and actor who has attended a specific three-year course, people are helped to express their past, gradually overtaking any block to harmonize with themselves and with the others and socialize, using body, voice and mime. In case of neurotic or borderline people, the therapist’ task is to help them developing their adult self. Throughout the sessions of the theatre-therapy path, people get to know themselves and the others, face their own fears and weaknesses, become aware of their own limits, learning not to judge themselves nor the others, accepting themselves and the others just the way they are. That’s possible also thanks to improvisation, that enables to express in a freer way their own past, protected by “pretending” to be someone else.

theatre-therapy with disabled people

Theatre-therapy paths are wide spreading more and more, all around Italy. If you want to stay up-to-date about all the activities, please visit the FIT (Italian Theatre-Therapy Federation) website. Are you ready to go on stage?


“La classe degli asini”: a TV movie about inclusion

I’m not that keen on TV movies and similar stuff, but, when, last night, I tuned my TV in RaiUno to watch “La classe degli asini” (“The classroom of the dunces”), I was pleasantly surprised. For those who missed it, this TV movie tells the story of a fundamental figure in the process of school inclusion for students with disabilities: Mirella Antonione Casale, a teacher and mother of a little girls who was made severely disabled by viral encephalitis. Thanks to the efforts of this brave woman and other colleagues of hers, in the second half of ‘70s, Italy finally overcome (at least, in theory) the infamous “special” or “different” classrooms.

Established by the Gentile reform with the goal to ensure education to students with handicap, those classrooms often ended to become real “ghettos”, where were literally parked also children without any handicap, maybe just because they lived social unrest or due to their “lively” temper. It’s what happens in “La classe degli asini”, where Riccardo, a southern kid with a crippled family, ends up to get enclosed in a sort of “horror boarding school” (where children suffer every kind of violence, both physical and psychological) simply because, in Turin during the economical “boom”, he only speaks dialect and struggles to follow the rules. Mirella and her colleague Felice (who calls to mind the “Dead Poets Society”’s professor Keating) take to heart his case and not just help him leave the boarding school, but also let bring to light the abuses suffered by children there. Furthermore, once she has become the school principal and has come in contact with ANFFAS (the Families of People with Intellectual and/or Relational Disability Association), commits herself to enable children with handicap and those who were previously “refused” to receive the same education (and be treated, on the whole) as the other students. Also thanks to her contribution, in reality, in 1977, through the 517 law, “special classrooms” got suppressed (even though they still survived, de facto, for a few more years, but we’re aware that cultural barriers are hard to overcome!) and students with disability were included into “normal” classroom, supported (when needed) by special needs teachers.

"La classe degli asini" - the cast

The cast of the movie – Picture ©Fabrizio Di Giulio/ RAI Press Office

La classe degli asini” succeeds in extraordinarily dealing with a hard topic, without indulging with pietism and sensitivity, also thanks to Vanessa Incontrada (Mirella) and Flavio Insinna (Felice), but also the young (and great) Giovanni D’Aleo (Riccardo) and Aurora Giovinazzo (Flavia) performances. As Mirella states in the movie, referring to a little-great progress made by Flavia thanks to Riccardo’s help:

“You can turn a lamp on […] To turn it on, you need someone to push that button”

Interacting with disabled people: what’s the right way?

What’s the right way of interacting with disabled people? How to talk to them? The answer to these questions may seem obvious, but several (both personal and not) experiences make me remember that it isn’t that expected, after all…

I’m taking the cue from a scene I saw yesterday. Two adults, in the waiting room of a rehabilitation unit: an “able-bodied” woman and a man with a severe disability due to a stroke.  The “able-bodied” woman, mother of another patient, talks to the disabled man (who, in addition to using a wheelchair, is also aphasic, therefore can hardly articulate meaningful words, but is perfectly alert and aware of himself and others), using words and a tone of voice that would have been more suitable for a dialogue with a baby rather than an adult, as is the person in front of her, without forgetting to tenderly tickle his head, while they talk. As the man goes away, the woman starts talking endlessly to me (I was waiting to start my session as well): “How sweet is Charles (it’s a fancy name, of course!), isn’t he?”. I hold my tongue not to answer impolitely: after all, she is a kind woman, who has spoken in good faith. Before she’s able to keep on talking, my physiotherapist calls me, and I mentally thank him…


Would I have had enough time and the chance to leisurely answer, here is what I would have said. No, my kind lady, I don’t think that “Charles” is sweet. I don’t think he wants to appear like this, too, when he tries to chat with other people. He is an adult man who, after a perfectly normal life, by chance, ended up to fully depend on others, without being able to speak correctly to express his feeling and needs, if not at the cost of a huge effort (and a lot of discouragement, seeing the confused look of who isn’t used to deal with an aphasic individual). I don’t think that “Charles” (or any other disabled person, starting from myself) is “sweet” or must be necessarily called this way. Not because we’re ugly, dirty and evil (sometimes, we’re that way too, as everybody else, after all). Simply, because we aren’t puppies, nor cuddly toys, but people.

How many of you would talk to an “able-bodied” adult acquaintance as if he was a 2 years old baby, tickling his head and calling him “sweet” while talking about him with others? Nobody, I’d say. So, why would you feel to be entitled to do it with a disabled person? Why can’t you simply talk to her as she is, that is an adult in sound mind, even though she has movement (or other, based on her specific disability) issues?

interacting with disabled people

Even though you’ve your heart in the right place, you’d better remember that this way of interacting with disabled people is as wrong as discriminating and fooling them (even though, apparently, it does no harm, but the opposite!). It’s just like, somehow, refusing to recognize to those people the same dignity as others, simply due to a more or less temporary “diversity” condition.  Similarly, it terribly hurts hearing others saying (with a smile on their lips and sincere admiration): “Well done! Despite your disability, you’re very capable!”. What’s strange about that? Why do you always and forever need to emphasize that “despite”? Have you ever told someone who’s tall, short, fat, slim, dark or blond haired that, “despite that”, he is very capable?  What has somebody’s success (and failure) at school, work or in any other field to do with a physical trait of his?

Maybe a disabled person, during her life, had to show her personality more than others, to face daily challenges and reach her goals. But who says that, for that reason, she thinks to be (or wants to be seen as) “super” and not, simply, just like anyone else?

Then, here we are. If you ask me what is, in my opinion, the right way to interact with disabled people and, specifically, with me, my answer is: treat me like a person, the rest follows.

“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!

104/92 law permits: reconciling work and therapies

We’ve stated it many times: having a disability doesn’t compromise your chances to find and carry out efficiently a job. Sure, who lives with a severe disability often needs continuous therapies, not always adaptable to the working hours. But, luckily, even in this case, the 104/92 law helps. Indeed, the measures aiming to guarantee the working inclusion of disabled people include the permits that are due both to who has a severe disability and who takes care of a relative with a severe disability.

what are those permits?

The 104/92 law permits consist of a monthly amount of working hours, usable as days (maximum 3 per month) or hours (1 or 2 per day, based on the working timetable), regularly paid by INPS, that enable to worker, if he is disabled, to have the therapies he needs and, if he has a disabled relative, to properly take care of him.

104/92 law permits

who is entitled to those permits?

The 104/92 law permits are due to employees with a severe disability or who have relatives (within the 3rd degree) suffering a severe disability, excluding homeworkers.

how to benefit from those permits?

To benefit from the 104/92 law permits, first, the proper medical commission must certify the status of severe disability of the disabled worker (or of the disabled relative of the employee who’s applying for them). This examination isn’t the same as the “standard” disability, so you must apply specifically for it, adding a digital certificate written down by your general practitioner certifying the status of severe disability of the interested disabled person, through the INPS website.

  • Using your PIN and fiscal code, login to the “Servizi al Cittadino” area and select “Invalidità civile: invio domanda di riconoscimento dei requisiti sanitari” and, then, “Acquisizione richiesta”.
  • Fill in the online form with the requested data, selecting the items “Riconoscimento” and “Portatore di handicap” in the section that immediately follows the personal data.
  • Insert the ID code of the certificate written by your general practitioner.
  • Specify your preferred way to use the permits (days or hours) and the end date (usually, the application must be submitted yearly, even though nothing has changed).
  • Submit your application and wait for the medical commission to convene you.

Starting from the moment you have submitted your application, you can benefit from the permits. If, after the examination, your application is rejected, your employer will deduct the hours used by the employee from his pay slip (or from his total amount of holidays, based on the agreement).

On the contrary, if your application for the 104/92 law permits is approved, both the employee and the employer will receive a communication from INPS, specifying the length of the benefit.

If the employee who benefits from the 104/92 law permits leaves the company for another, in order to keep on benefiting from them, he will have to submit another application once the new employment relationship has started.

Good luck with your work!

Sexuality and disabled people: an enduring taboo

Do disabled people have sex or are, simply, interested in sexuality and in coupledom like the “normal” ones? If we only give a superficial look at the situation, in Italy and abroad, the answer to this question could seem negative. But, actually, things are “quite different”.

Lorella Ronconi

Lorella Ronconi (© Maria Vittoria Peccatori)

We’ll talk about it with Lorella Ronconi, Knight of the Italian Republic for spending her life to establish and protect the disabled people rights, including that to affectivity and sexuality. Lorella,  who is affected by a heavily disabling physical disability, has a solid working background in associations, non-profit organizations, local institutions, where she has put her typically Tuscan stubbornness at the service of the rights of who has no voice, fighting to remove architectonical and cultural barriers that still weigh on the life of millions of disabled people, not just in Italy.

– Hi, Lorella, and thanks for your willingness to have this chat. Would you like to introduce yourself to Move@bility’s friends? 

I’m a Tuscan 54 woman and, even though, since when I was 2, I’ve been living with a chronic genetic disease, I’m still in love with life. Thanks to my parents and to knowledgeable teachers, I was among the first disabled people in Italy who attended “normal” schools. My attitude and openness towards others have always led me to be personally committed to social work. I’m very keen on arts, poetry and web, particularly on social media, that I see as essential tools to overtake cultural barriers which still ghettoize us, disabled people.

– Let’s immediately get to the main subject of this meeting: disabled people and sexuality. Why is this topic still a taboo, in 2016?

At the bottom of the taboo there’s a view of the disabled individual as “sick”, while disability is, above all, a permanent condition (both physical or psychic). Generally, when I deal with this topic in public contexts, I use the following example: when someone is in bed with flu, it’s hard to see him as sexually desirable, so you only take care of him to help him getting over. Well, who sees the combination among disabled people and sexuality as a taboo looks at us, disabled people, as if we’d be permanently in bed with flu: then, woe betide seeing us as sexually desirable or, even less so, active! In the best case, they consider us as eternal children, by nature lacking sexual impulses and desires.

– For disabled women (and we’re well aware of this, since we’re both part of this category), this topic is even more “sensitive”, since it feels the effect of the same cultural legacy that, for centuries, has seen (and, in some cultures, still sees) woman as an “object” and not a “subject”, when it comes to sexual impulses. But is it so, actually?

The different way to look at the two genders is a fact among “able-bodied” people, as you said. Even when we talk about sexuality, we almost automatically think to the disabled man, as if we, the disabled women, didn’t have that need. Media also contribute to empower this opinion: there are still too fee movies, just to give an example, where disability, in all its facets, is described “from a female perspective”. But sexual impulse isn’t linked to the way we walk, see, hear: it’s naturally inside us as human beings, without any difference, apart from the “mechanical” part, among the two sexes, regardless of any disability.

-In your opinion, the advent of the sexual assistant is an effective solution and, if so, is it effective for both sexes? Does it satisfy the natural need for affectivity, besides satisfying instincts (that are natural as well, of course)?

Both for male or female disabled people, sexual assistant, alone, isn’t enough to answer, with a magic wand, all the individuals’ specific needs, even more so in such a delicate field as affectivity and sex. I think we lack a clear project, at a national level, to “design” this professional profile, that, as it is commonly considered, for sure answer more effectively the male “mechanical” needs. For women, it’s a little bit more complex – even at a “mechanical” level- in addition to our greater need for an emotional involvement. We’d need to establish a well-designed professional profile, able to fully answer the “physiological” and emotional needs (these are, for instance, satisfied by the “cuddle-therapy”) of disabled people, both men and women. Prior to the sexual assistant, we must train professional profiles such as care workers, consultants, psychologists and psychiatrists, so that they actually know that disabled people have also sexual and emotional needs to satisfy and can be ready to effectively answer these licit needs. On the contrary, nowadays, too often, the “problem is solved” prescribing bromide pills (which only inhibit libido) or transferring everything, once again, to families, with heavy psychological effects, for parents who have to satisfy their sons “physiological” needs also in such an intimate field and, when ask for help or advice, hardly find people ready to effectively answer their doubts.

– How important is the emotional and sentimental part, in the sexual life of a disabled individual (regardless of the specific gender)? 

It’s fundamental, since love is life, for everyone, including disabled people.

– Let’s try to figure out a scene: two individuals, a disabled and an “able-bodied”, together, in a “very lovely” attitude. In most of cases, people looking at them think they are friends, relatives or, at most, a patient and his/her caregiver/assistant. How can we make those that you effectively defined “dull people” understand that this is absolutely normal?  

We’re in the age of communication, so let’s use it! We need a lot of awareness campaigns also about sexuality, an essential part of the disabled people life, as it is for everyone else. We must “shock”, letting them see first-hand that disability isn’t the opposite of sex and laws of attraction, even towards the “able-bodied”.

– In your opinion, what can we do, under an institutional and cultural perspective, to promote a culture of real acceptance of disability as a condition not to pity, but to see as absolutely normal, overthrowing not only architectonical barriers, but also (and above all) the cultural ones?

Standing up for it, let other people see that we are human beings, not sick pets to take care of. Plus, commit ourselves to see the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (signed by Italy in 2009) and the existing laws about architectonical barriers removal  followed, also allocating an adequate budget. But, above all, we, disabled people, must “act as a network” and go into politics, commit personally, together, to get an outcome. Only in Italy, according to ISTAT data, there are more than 4 million of disabled people, plus their relatives: we must “make noise”. We’re not invisible and we mustn’t be so, even when it comes to advertising and marketing: how long will we have to wait until a disabled testimonial appears in a “cool” brand commercial?

We’re looking forward to that! And maybe… Stay tuned! 

Final report: what it is and how to get it

The final report is one of the documents needed to enrol in the disability hiring quotas. Established through the D.P.C.M. of January 13th 2000, this certificate doesn’t include sensitive data and it’s written by the ASL Integrated Medical Commission, who reports the functional diagnosis and suggests the tasks the disabled person is able to carry out.

Final report

Private businesses hiring people with disability don’t necessarily require the final report, but it’s useful to request for it, for any eventuality. The request procedure, today, is very simple:

  1. If you already have the INPS PIN, simply access the “Servizi online” area of the website and select Servizi per il cittadino and, then, Invalidità Civile: Invio Domanda di Riconoscimento dei Requisiti sanitari.
  2. After having inserted your fiscal code and INPS PIN, you access the area where you can submit your request, easily online, clicking on Acquisizione Richiesta.
  3. In the following screenshots, you have to add your personal data and, if your invalidity has been certified already and you just want to benefit from the facilitations as per the law regarding the disability hiring quotas, select Riconoscimento and Collocamento mirato, respectively.
  4. Once you’ve finished filling the request and submitted it to the system, you’ll see its copy and receipt, both in PDF format: it’s advisable to save those documents on your PC, in case of verifications or request for further information.
  5. Logging into the INPS website, furthermore, you’ll have the possibility to check the status of your request, plus any scheduled meeting and so on.
  6. After a few weeks, you’ll receive through registered mail the convocation for the two examinations needed to receive the final report: the first is an interview with a member of the medical commission, in order to know the person, his educational and professional background, his habits and lifestyle.
  7. Information collected during the interview will be useful to the medical commission to manage the next examination, when the final report will be written down. The applicant will receive it within 4 months since the examination.

Once you get your final report, you have to give a copy to your employer (if he hasn’t requested it already) and another one to the Employment Center, that will add it to your dossier.