Tuesday, March 5 2024

On December 31, 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) broke the news of
an outbreak of what seemed to be at the time just a trivial flu, which then
resulted in a kind of “pneumonia of unknown cause.” They pointed out its
epicenter was Wuhan, Hubei, China. This was the start of what we all know
by now as the Covid pandemic.

In a climate of widespread uncertainty, we have changed our behaviors and
lifestyles “for everyone’s sake.” But if self-sufficient people had their
own fears and difficulties, what would the experience of people with
disabilities be like?

Lockdown and disability

The devices we have access to today allow us to maintain connections with
friends, relatives, and colleagues even at a distance of hundreds or
thousands of kilometers. Therefore, it suggests that these methodologies
are effective even for those who are among the first to be most affected by
the pandemic restrictions – a condition of “necessary” isolation: persons
with disabilities.

It is essential to give unwavering support to people with disabilities,
providing them with rehabilitative social care and health care, ensuring
them the possible acquisition of skills needed to carry out certain daily
tasks independently. People who have temporarily lost use of certain skills
or capacities may need rehabilitation in order to maintain these particular
skills.

Even today, the concept of “disability” is mistakenly understood by many as
a mere synonym of “impairment,” whether physical or mental, that might have
been since birth or otherwise was caused by an accident. Since 2001, the
WHO (World Health Organization) has been publishing the International
Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF), a
classification tool that describes how disability is a consequence of a
complex relationship between physical condition, environmental factors, and
health, which can result in an inability to fully integrate and participate
in society.

Technology supports disability in many ways. Teams of experts in large
companies work to make products accessible (technological and otherwise),
in order to promote the sort of innovation that aims to support everyone.

More than 1 billion people worldwide have a disability – that’s 13% of the
global population. This is not certainly an small percentage of people who
need accessible products and services.

The term “accessibility” refers to the design of products, devices,
services, or environments for people with disabilities, whether permanent,
temporary, or situational.

During the design of these services, a multitude of factors are evaluated
according to a way of thinking that is all-inclusive: if a product or
service is easy to use for a person with a disability, it will improve the
experience for everyone else as well.

How can we make sure to leave no one behind?

We are too used to reading sensationalist news of a negative tone. We read
so many articles about how institutions have not been able to support
people in many ways, especially in the last year, and we have become
outraged. We often forget those who have even greater difficulty. But
positive, concrete examples exist and should be replicated on a large
scale.

This does not mean ignoring the problems that people with disabilities
have, but they might be better understood in the form of little strange
“pills,” like Carmelo Comisi began to think of it… He is the President of Disability Pride Onlus, which during the lockdown started
a mini web series called

“Carmelo’s Suppositories.”

This series delves into the problems that people with disabilities
encounter in their daily routines – a new way to make satire, as he calls
it, Sit down Comedy.

It’s not just funny videos. “Disability Pride” was born in Italy in 2015
from an idea of Carmelo Comisi and the contribution of “many friends,” with
the goal of promoting the inclusion of all people with disabilities. Over
the years, it has grown its national and international network of people
with disabilities (Disability Pride Network), their close friends, and all
non-disabled “allies” who share the same values and goals and promote a new
way of living, thinking, and valuing people with disabilities.

So back to the original question, in order not to leave anyone behind, we
have to start with what is found in all human beings and what can only be
beneficial if effectively applied: information, cooperation, and a smile.

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