For those who use touch to communicate the long period of social isolation due to the pandemic has been particularly tiring. According to the results of a recent survey by INAPP, the National Institute for the Analysis of Public Policies – conducted in collaboration with the Lega del Filo d’Oro Onlus Foundation, together with other national associations of patients with non-institutionalized sensorineural disabilities in Italy – 6 out of 10 people experienced a strong sense of isolation, loneliness and abandonment and over 1 in 2 people had their rehabilitation programs suspended.
The impact of restrictions
But what has been the real impact of restrictions and social distancing on the lives of those who cannot see and hear? In particular, the concern for contagion and hospitalization was felt more by people with visual impairments (41.5%), compared to those with hearing impairments (37.1%), due to the fear of not being able to have alongside their own caregiver-reference figure, crucial for their autonomy. Even distance learning has revealed all its limitations and was judged insufficient for their disability by over 4 out of 10 students, also drastically affecting the opportunities for socializing compared to before the emergency.
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The activity of the Lega del Filo d’Oro
“The pandemic presented us with a very difficult challenge, but in our 5 Centers the activity aimed at residential users has never stopped and we have always guaranteed our support to the many parents who, alone, had to take charge of the serious disabilities of children in the absence of the activities offered by the Day Centers or by the Territorial Services – declares the president Rossano Bartoli – With great efforts, we have succeeded in reshaping the activities and methods of intervention, with the primary objective of not losing the progress and skills achieved by the many deafblind children and adults. But today, thanks to vaccines and the completion of the new National Center, expected by the end of 2021, we can finally look to the future of those who cannot see and hear with greater confidence and hope. Furthermore, with the contribution of 5×1000, a simple and free gesture, together we will be able to take further, great, steps to lead deafblind people beyond darkness and silence ”.
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The recognition of the Lis and the List after 12 years
Although the data confirm that in the early stages of the pandemic, the light on the needs of deafblind people and their families was completely extinguished, a concrete response for their full inclusion came last May 19: 12 years after the ratification of the Convention of Nations United on the rights of people with disabilities, Italy has finally closed the serious delay that had led it to be the last in Europe not to have recognized its national sign language. Furthermore, the process of converting the so-called “Support Decree” into law, within which there is a provision that recognizes the LIS (Italian Sign Language) and the LIST (Italian Tactile Sign Language), also officially recognizes the figure of interpreter, a fundamental support for the life of those who do not see and hear. “Finally, after so many years of waiting and fighting for our rights – he underlines Francesco Mercurio, president of the Committee of deafblind people of the Lega del Filo d’Oro Onlus Foundation – Italy takes another important step in the implementation process of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and opens a new way out of isolation, towards the full inclusion of deafblind and psychosensory impaired people “.
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The residential model of the Lega del Filo d’Oro
The home dimension is rightly considered the ideal one for people with disabilities, consistent with the principle of self-determination as the right to decide where and with whom to live. But in many cases of severe disability, life at home is not possible. For this reason, the Lega del Filo d’Oro, from the beginning, has created a model of hospitality with a family and inclusive dimension. In fact, the Lega del Filo d’Oro model envisages the integration of the family dimension (small apartment units for 4 people) within a more structured context, which is able to guarantee those services of greater specialization that the complexity of disability requires, to start with the health ones. It is not just a question of a different organization of spaces, but of a specific project which, starting from the educational-rehabilitative dimension, extends “for life”. A model that arises from an assessment of needs, from the comparison with the best international experiences, from direct and continuous dialogue with deafblind people and families.
The new National Center
The pandemic has confronted families with an even more complex challenge, clearly highlighting the urgency to think today of concrete answers for the future needs of people with severe disabilities. To guarantee on the one hand the safety and the possibility of using an articulated and complex service system, on the other hand the opportunity to achieve the maximum possible autonomy based on the situation of each one, the Lega del Filo d’Oro has thus started the construction of the new National Center of Osimo, a state-of-the-art facility for the education, assistance and rehabilitation of deafblind and psychosensory impaired people from all over Italy. The new Center will also have residences that will welcome full-time guests, to ensure a more peaceful “after us” for them and their families. When completed, the National Center will consist of 9 buildings, 37 medical clinics and laboratories for occupational activity, 40 classrooms, guest rooms for family members, 4 gyms for physiotherapy and 2 swimming pools for hydrotherapy.
Yarn Bombing, Italy invaded by the colors of solidarity
On June 27, an explosion of colors will invade Italy from north to south: after a particularly dark year for deafblind and psychosensory impaired people, on the occasion of the International Day of Deafblindness, the Lega del Filo d’Oro Onlus Foundation promotes of the international Yarn Bombing initiative, a colorful “bombing of yarn products” proposed by the Deafblind International network – of which the Foundation is a part – to involve deafblind people in a fun and creative way in a large-scale tactile art project and raise awareness of deafblindness. In the Centers and Offices of the Lega del Filo d’Oro, thanks to the yarn workshops, people who do not see and hear have created colored squares and pom poms, thanks to the contribution of their families and loved ones, supporters, volunteers and staff of the Lega del Filo d’Oro. On the key day of June 27, in the 10 regions where the Foundation is present, the knitted or crocheted artifacts will cover streets, parks and monuments, in a large patchwork woven with all the colors and threads of solidarity. The invitation to participate in the “Yarn Bombing” of the Lega del Filo d’Oro is open to all: on the International Day of Deafblind People (June 27) it will be enough to share a photo of a colored yarn product on your social channels, inserting the hashtag #perfiloepersegno. With a symbolic gesture, it will be possible to support the cause of the Lega del Filo d’Oro, for a better future beyond darkness and silence.