Rome: Equalisation of opportunities - Address by prof. Daniele

Prof. Daniele, President of Blind Italian Union
Address at Rome, Theatro Olimpico
April 2003

We ask only for equalisation of opportunities, for a job and social integration

Mr Chairman, dear President Pagano, ladies and gentlemen, I came here to listen to you.  I was invited by Mr Pagano. I thought it was important, it was my task, but I am happy to take the floor, to be here, to have the opportunity to greet you on behalf of the federation I chair. IÂ’d like to welcome the foreign guest, it is also a honour to have them and it makes the conference more prestigious. IÂ’d like to thank the President Vardakastanis.

The association I represent is historical. It was founded 60-70 years ago, changing the destiny of the disabled in Italy. We still recollect the times when people with disabilities were emarginated, cast aside not considered by the civil code. So, the historical association worked to change life of the disabled who conquered the right to training, healthcare, and so on.

This has been quite hard. The result of struggles on the part of the association with the absence of culture, economic difficulties this moment is delicate but there has never been a time in which the government had sufficient means so the laws quoted by Mr Pagano have never been enforced due to the lack of money, so we have worked to achieve a change an integration in the society. This is the objective.

We ask only for equalisation of opportunities, for a job and social integration. It is not unchangeable, it can be achieved. We have to conquer it with science technology which pushes forward our target. So, there are new hurdles and we need to work hard not to loose contact with reality. We are engaged in this very hard battle as past means are not useful anymore.

We have a new culture. We have problems in school and multimedia does not consider that there are people who cannot see. There are new market logics which deny protection to the disabled and some social benefits are challenged. We know that today competition is harsh and this is why protective laws need to be upheld to achieve assistance but it is challenged by lack of resources. If money is not there the municipalities were not able to enforce the law on integrated services. They cannot keep the same level of existing services. We cannot access information and so on.

We will continue our battle at Italian level. We shall reinforce the European movement and the forum is important in this respect.

Thanks Mr. Vardakastanis to give prestige to this movement so that in the future the disabled will be referred to the EC. Convention will increase the rights so that equal dignity and opportunities are given so that the citizens will not be excluded from the society.