A question of age, or rather of the right time (so to speak). At least from a regulatory point of view, in fact, the recognition of the rights of deafblind people depends precisely on the moment in which the hearing disability arises: if it is not congenital or if it does not arise during the developmental age, in fact, the person cannot be considered deafblind. and therefore have his rights recognized. An absurd paradox on which on the occasion of the IV National Day of deafblind people, which is celebrated on June 27, the Lega del Filo d’Oro and the Italian Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired turn on the spotlight.
Visual and hearing impairment
In Italy, a person can be defined as deafblind if, in addition to the visual impairment – which may have arisen during the whole span of life – a hearing disability is also added as long as the impairment is congenital or, if acquired, arises during the developmental age and is such as to have compromised the normal learning of spoken language. Therefore, people who, although blind, have become deaf after 12 years of age, or those who, born without any sensory impairment, have been affected by deafblindness after the age of twelve, are therefore not considered deafblind. regulatory limbo, and consequently of rights, many people in our country are waiting for a recognition of their condition.
Confined to the house
According to a study conducted by Istat in collaboration with the Lega del Filo d’Oro, it is estimated that in Italy there are 189,000 people affected by problems related to both sight and hearing. About 108,000 people are in fact confined to their homes, unable to provide for themselves due to other serious forms of disability that often add to sight and hearing problems. More than 55% of sensory impaired people experience significant restrictions on their autonomy as they are unable to leave the house due to other forms of disability that add up to those of sight and hearing: about half of deafblind people (51.7% of the total) also has a motor disability. For 4 out of 10 disabled people, on the other hand, permanent damage related to mental insufficiency is found, while behavioral disorders and mental illnesses concern almost a third of deafblind people (32.5% of cases).
What the law says
Thanks to Law 107/2010, created on the basis of the guidelines contained in the declaration on the rights of deafblind people of the European Parliament of 12 April 2004, deafblindness has been recognized as a single specific disability (previously it referred to the sum of the two disabilities). Yet today it appears inadequate for collective legal protection that includes all persons with additional disabilities. “To ensure equal opportunities for people with visual and hearing disabilities in education, access to services, education and training, it is necessary to continue along the path of recognizing their rights – he declares Rossano Bartoli, president of the Lega del Filo d’Oro. It is essential to clarify the application of Law 107/2010 and to promote effective coordination between the central level and the regions to overcome operational discrepancies and above all to ensure that people with a combined total or partial impairment of the sight and hearing, both congenital and acquired, which involve difficulties in orientation and mobility, as well as in accessing information and communication “.
Exploit the resources of the NRP
The IV National Day of deafblind people, established in 2018 by the European Union of the Deafblind (EDbU) and scheduled for June 27, promoted in Italy by the Lega del Filo d’Oro and the Italian Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired, was born precisely with the aim of shedding light on the condition of people living with this sensory disability in our country, to guarantee them greater social inclusion, self-determination and autonomy. “As Uici we are committed to creating dedicated education and training models, with support, support and hospitality activities extended to families, thanks to our network of 107 territorial sections, with listening structures, counseling and psychological assistance, centers for typhlodidactic consultancy “, declares the president of the Italian Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired, Mario Barbuto who adds: “But today we must take a further and significant step forward that looks at the needs of deafblind people even beyond school age or youth, to accompany them into adulthood. For these reasons we believe it is important to create suitable reception structures that know how to support deafblind people in the long term, so that they can identify and build their life project, in autonomy and dignity. The resources expected with the PNRR and the legislative and regulatory adjustments that have become an essential urgency, will be the fundamental elements of our commitment alongside people with multiple disabilities and in particular with deafblindness “.