Sunday, February 7, 2021

Moving accessibility forward through strong partnerships: Associazione Luca Coscioni explains their approach in Italy and beyond

Accessibility is a human right and as such needs a global effort to advance. To understand the needs of disabled and older users worldwide and to promote the awareness about already existing accessibility solutions, the MWF builds connections with partners around the world. One of these partners is Associazione Luca Coscioni who shares with us their mission in Italy. 

  • Can you quickly present Associazione Luca Coscioni and explain your mission? 
Rocco Berardo, Disability Campaign Manager: The Associazione Luca Coscioni for Freedom of Scientific Research is a non-profit organisation of social promotion founded in 2002 by Luca Coscioni, an economist suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) who passed away in 2006. Its priorities include the affirmation of civil liberties and human rights, particularly the Human Right to Science, freedom of scientific research starting with research on embryos, access to medically assisted procreation; the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities starting with physical and digital accessibility. Furthermore, the organisation affirms policies allowing self-determination in terms of end of life decisions, the legalization of euthanasia, access to medical cannabinoids, global monitoring of laws and policies in the sector of freedom of scientific research, and civil liberties.
  • What would you like to achieve for people with disabilities in the short- to long-run? 
Rocco: The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its ratification represents a big step forward in recognising those rights, that even in the most advanced countries are too often considered second-rate rights. From our Italian observatory point of view, most of the times these recognitions do not correspond to a real implementation by public administrations. For this reason, we advocate for public economic investments in order to guarantee that what is enshrined in law is then implemented, with measurable objectives and public initiatives, also at the judicial level to guarantee physical and digital accessibility. 
  • Which are the major stumbling blocks on the road there? 
RoccoThe biggest limitation is institutions’ inertia in terms of accessibility, but also of control. In addition, most investments are mobilised for welfare measures meant for addressing immediate needs, rather than to fully implement accessibility or to allow for the use of services, which can be achieved by investing in liberty and on potentially independent and self-managed lives.

  • If you had one wish free to policy makers and to the disability community, what would you ask of them? 
RoccoI would ask them to monitor the state of investments aimed at ensuring an independent life, accessibility and the removal of architectural, digital and cultural barriers.
  • Are there any actions that your association makes available on the digital level?  
RoccoWe have created an app called “No barriers”, dedicated in particular to persons with disabilities to report their day-to-day obstacles: from missing ramps to impassable sidewalks, from inaccessible facilities to infeasible parking spaces. Thanks to relatively immediate geolocation, this app allows to publicly and quickly report problems, disservices and barriers. We partnered with Municipalities so that they receive real time notifications on the most visited and compromised places, in order to have an idea of the most urgent interventions needed. 

Furthermore, we developed CitBot (where Cit stands for “citizen”), a ChatBot offering answers to citizens on laws regarding civil rights but also, of course, accessibility and discrimination towards persons with disabilities, so that everyone can be informed on their rights and therefore have the ability to assert them.

About Associazione Luca Coscioni
The Luca Coscioni Association for the freedom of scientific research was founded on September 20, 2002 by Luca Coscioni, a victim of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. 

About GARI
The Global Accessibility Reporting Initiative (GARI) features an online database where you can find information on the accessibility features in over 1,500 devices including mobile phones, tablets, Smart TVs and Wearables. You’ll also find information on accessibility apps that work on these devices.
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