The context

There are various and different elements that characterize the current context of people with disabilities;

  • Difficulty of reaching all people with disabilities by means of adequate services and modern technologies, both among those who need more support and among those considered less serious;
  • Fragmentation of interventions, which force families to take responsibility also for the relationships between the various institutions and the various services;
  • Mission entrusted to operators and services is often limited to “assisting and caring” without dealing with existential perspecti;
  • Difficulty, sometimes the impossibility for people with disabilities to carry out simple but important actions such as shopping alone.

Such a context has been described as “a dead-end highway” in which people with disabilities are cared for throughout their lives, often without a real and effective process of activation and social inclusion. The social support service system, despite a constant strong increase in the offer, often appears not up to the task: always looking for new resources to try to reach the many people not yet taken in charge with new services. The resources currently used in Italy in regional social policies for disability are anything but marginal, even if they are still below the European average (Source: ISTAT, Italy).

Modern society has found itself facing deep changes in the economic and social structure. We are talking about the processes of de-industrialization and job insecurity and those of disintegration of family units. In recent times, communities have also had to deal with the results of the serious economic crisis and therefore with the emergence of new fragilities of not only material nature. Problems that intersect and overlap with widespread social phenomena connected to the aging of the population, to changes in family units and, in very recent times, also to the increase in the number of immigrants, particularly refugees, asylum seekers.

The structure of social welfare services is affected by the overall approach that is still “old-fashioned”, which orients all social policies towards responding to the immediate request for support rather than solving and anticipating the problems that generate the need.

The moments considered “positive” in the existence and daily life of a disabled person are those that take place “outside”: outside the home but also outside the specialized centers and services, in particular if they generate the possibility of meeting new people and having free relationships. People with disabilities say they “feel good” when they can leave the house, get out of the service center, to do beautiful, funny and, above all, things that are considered normal. People with disabilities hope to have a home where they can live alone or with friends, family members wish that their children become more independent and can live with others and professionals who can live as adults. Problems, difficulties and real situations of discrimination, which see the social community increasingly distant, unable to grasp the knots that determine the social exclusion of people with disabilities but also to consider and expand their capacity to include differences.

This presentation of the context immediately highlights the underlying problem that we want to describe above all from the point of view and from the perspective of people with disabilities. A problematic situation that is described as follows:

“Unjustified differentiated treatment (discrimination) to the detriment of people with disabilities produces significant shortages of equal opportunities, as well as fewer opportunities for independent living. A situation caused, first of all, by the persistence in people and in society of the often implicit of disability as a chronic disease and a condition of fragility: conditions that give the right to health and assistance treatments that do not significantly improve the quality of life of people with disabilities.”