Italy - Article 20

A. LEGISLATION

1.    What legislative measures are being taken in your country to facilitate the mobility of people with disabilities in general? (Accessibility of roads, transport, buildings) when should they apply?

The accessibility of the physical environment and transport is based on the normative framework concerning the elimination and/or the removal of physical barriers, which is disciplined by a plurality of norms that have mainly introduced technical prescriptions including minimum requirements and dimensional limits. General provisions are included in Law No. 104/1992 which provides for all designs of public and open-to-the-public private buildings  to comply with the legislation regarding the removal of architectural barriers. Authorizations to build depend on the same legislation. Noncompliance causes buildings/works to be declared “inagibili” (unfit to be used).

The Consolidated Building Act (Testo Unico Edilizia – Presidential Decree No. 380/2001; http://www.parlamento.it/leggi/deleghe/01378dla.htm), and linked provisions (e.g. Law No. 13/1989; http://www.handylex.org/stato/l090189.shtml) provide for the removal of architectural barriers in private and public buildings and relevant sanctions.  Detailed technical regulations are included in Presidential Decree No. 503 of 24 July 1996 (http://www.handylex.org/stato/d240796.shtml ) and ministerial decree 236/1989.

The criteria to make vehicles and transport infrastructures (tramway, trolleybus, carlines, metro lines, trains, train stations, railways; ferry services - national ferries, domestic ferries, aerostations) accessible are defined in the relevant implementation decrees such as Presidential decree 503/1996 which - nevertheless - does not regulate the accessibility of maritime and fluvial harbours; ministerial decree 2/10/1987 and legislative decree 52/2005.

Articles 26 to 28 of law 104/92 are focused on mobility as well as on collective and individual transport. Pursuant to these articles, Regions are called to regulate the modalities according to which Municipalities prepare their actions to allow persons with disabilities to circulate freely on the territory by using public transport the same way as the other citizens do. Law 104/92 also establishes that municipalities should identify suitable ways  to provide  individual transport for persons with disabilities who are not able to use public transport, by drawing up mobility plans foreseeing alternative services.

Special regulations are in place for circulation and parking of vehicles used by disabled people including visually impaired people.  

Article 381 of Presidential Decree 495/92,  provides for the issue of special disability parking cards, allowing the vehicles used by/for persons with disabilities to circulate and park in prohibited/dedicated areas (including limited traffic areas and urban traffic-free pedestrian precincts) except when this would cause traffic interruption. In order to obtain such parking cards an application with revenue stamp must be submitted  to the municipality of the applicant's place of residence together with a medical certificate issued by the relevant local health unit which furnishes documentary evidence of the actual reduction of walking ability.

Pursuant to article 116, par. 5, of  Legislative decree 285/1992 (Highway Code/road traffic regulation), persons with disabilities can obtain a special driving licence for vehicles adapted to their special needs, after confirmation of their ability to drive.

Moreover, article 27 of law 104/92 sets out the opportunity to get a 20% contribution for the investment made on the modification of driving equipment. There are also a series of fiscal benefits for the purchase of vehicles for persons with disabilities and their family. Other regional aids are also granted for the purchase of vehicles for persons with disabilities.

Legislative decree 24/2009 provides for the sanctions to be applied in case of violation of EC Regulation 1107/2006, entered into force in July 2008, establishing that air carriers and airports shall adjust to European standards in terms of accessibility of flights for passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility.

Guidelines for the elimination of architectonic barriers in cultural sites(2008) have been drafted by the Commission for the analysis of disability-related problems, in particular regarding the field of cultural heritage and activities, since its creation in 2007: these guidelines consider sensorial barriers as well and provide, in the absence of specific legal reference, more design-oriented suggestions.

Guidelines concerning quality standards for assistance to people with reduced mobility and staff training, attached to the ENAC Circular 8/7/2008 implementing the airspace Regulation, were elaborated in cooperation with the associations of persons with disabilities and with aviation operators. The circular also minimum training requirements which flight companies and operators shall carefully comply with and share with their staff when dealing with people with reduced mobility.

RFI, the National Railway company that manages the railway network and Italian railway stations, is also managing railway services for persons with reduced mobility and persons with disabilities while coordinating a workgroup that involves the main associations of customers with disabilities. This group has drafted some documents concerning standards and measures to be used; among them, there are specific guidelines concerning railway infrastructures, drafted in 2011.

As regards the possibility for persons with disabilities to use equipment, tools and technologies for mobility at accessible costs, Presidential Decree 917/1986 establishes the possibility to deduct from the taxable income 19% of the expenses for the purchase of vehicles for walking, locomotion and lifting, as well as for technical and IT tools aimed at encouraging autonomy and inclusion of persons with disabilities. Law 342/2000 establishes the possibility of tax deduction for the expenses concerning the adaptation of vehicles to the needs of people with little or no residual motor ability (article 50, “benefits for disabled persons”).

Moreover, law 104/1992, article 7, establishes that the National Health Service shall ensure the supply and the repair of stuff, prostheses and assistive instruments that persons with disabilities need, ensuring they can make use of instruments and tools that also promote personal mobility.

 

2.    Are there specific measures for the visually impaired? If so, describe them briefly.

Blind and severely partially sighted people are entitled to travel on all trains with a reduction of about 20% of the cost of the ticket if travelling on their own and with just one full-price ticket valid for him/her and his/her accompanying person. In order to benefit from these concessionary measures the blind or partially sighted person must own a railway travel card which can be obtained from the authorized organisations of the blind and partially sighted (currently four, among which the Italian Union of the Blind and Partially Sighted). In case the accompanying person returns alone to the departing station after having accompanied a blind person to another place, he/she is entitled to travel free of charge. 

The above concessionary measures  are not applicable for foreign visitors unless they have bought their return ticket in their respective countries. In this case they cannot change their destination or make additional trips.

In the above-mentioned Presidential Decree 503/1996, architectural barriers are defined, among other things, as “the lack of measures and indicators that allow the orientation and recognition of places and sources of danger to anyone and especially for the blind, for the partially sighted and the deaf.” It also states that “While a building is  being adjusted/adapted , it must be equipped, within one hundred and eighty days from the date of  entry into force of the Regulation, by the Public Administration that uses the building with a call system to activate a service allowing persons with reduced or impaired motor or sensory  ability to enjoy  the services performed there.”

Law No. 37 of  14 February 1974 ( http://www.handylex.org/stato/l140274.shtml ) provides for guide dogs  to be allowed free of charge on public transport, as well as to be allowed into all public facilities.

Article 188 of Legislative decree 285/1992 provides that “Pedestrian crossings with traffic lights can be fitted  with audible signals for the blind” .

Article  191 of legislative decree 285/1992 provides that “Drivers must stop when a disabled person with reduced mobility or on a wheelchair, or carrying a white cane or accompanied by a guide dog, or carrying a red-white stick in the case of a deaf-blind personis  crossing or about to cross the roadway/street”.

3.    How are these measures implemented? Are visually impaired Associations associated with their application? If so, how?

Authorized organisations of the blind and partially sighted (currently four, among which the Italian Union of the Blind and Partially Sighted) are entrusted with the task to distribute - to the persons entitled to receive it - a special railway travel card allowing to benefit from the concessionary measures described under 2 above.

Moreover DPOs are consulted by public authorities (by means of consultation forums/rounds) regarding specific issues, e.g. support to be provided in case of natural disasters.

 

4.    Have they already produced tangible results?

Yes, in general there have been positive results concerning improving measures to facilitate the mobility of blind and partially sighted people. A definitely negative situation is to be registered regarding the support measures at regional and local level where, due to the regulatory autonomy of the administrations, relevant differences occur. Another negative aspect concerns the fact that tariff reductions are applied only on the basic ticket price,  and not on additional costs (e.g. for high speed trains) which are often higher.

 

5.    What are the penalties for non-application of the above measures?

The sanction system regulating violations of the Regulation (EC)1107/06 by air carriers, airport managers and tourist operators is included in legislative decree 24/09; the National Organization for Civil Aviation (ENAC) is in charge of the assessment and application of infringement procedures. The amounts of sanctions converge to a special Fund for the promotion of information campaigns and research initiatives in favour of passengers with disabilities or people with reduced mobility.

Regarding building works involving public buildings or private buildings open to the public, the control is initially based on the graphical documentation of the project and on a declaration of conformity to the norm into force in the field of accessibility (art. 24 law 104/92 and art. 21 DPR 503/96); at the local level, this declaration is followed by the verification of the declared conformity and the works. In case of differences from the original project that make it impossible for people with disability to use the building, a declaration of unfitness occurs. Other sanctions are applied to the designer, the supervisor, the technical manager of conformity declarations and the tester: all of them are considered directly liable for their work, as regards the building works carried out after the entry into force of law 104/92. The sanction consists in a pecuniary fine and in the suspension from professional registers for a period between one and six months.

Fines are provided for in the road regulation for unlawful parking on parking lots reserved to persons with disabilities.

It would also be possible to have recourse to law no. 67 of 1 March 2006 (“Provisions for judicial protection of persons with disabilities, victims of discrimination”), if the judge considers an  inaccessible site a case of direct discrimination.

B. TRAVEL AID

 

6.    What are the main technical aids used by visually impaired people in your country for mobility: long cane, optical aids, electronic aids, GPS?

All kinds of white canes, GPS, as well as vocalized paths are used.

6.1.     How are they distributed?

They are sold by commercial companies/businesses.

 

6.2.     Is training provided during their acquisition?

There are orientation and mobility courses requiring the payment of a fee.

 

6.3.     How are they funded in the acquisition?

Article. 7 of Law no. 104/1992 provides that the National Health Service is obliged to ensure assistance and the supply of any equipment, tool, prostheses and technical aids necessary for the treatment of impairments, in order to make sure that poor persons with disabilities have the opportunity to benefit from equipment and help to promote personal mobility.

The types and modes of prostheses and services provided free of charge or those partially funded by the National Health Service are included in a list called “Nomenclatore Tariffario”(NT), i.e. a National Health Care Range of Fees. This is a document drafted - and updated - by the Ministry of Health setting out the type and modes of provision of prostheses and aids by the National Health Service, includingthe basic costs for medical treatment of all pathologies, health care services, medical and health care personnel tariffs, and medical equipment set at the national level. The NT currently  in force was set out in Ministerial Decree 27 August 1999, n. 332.  

Through public procedures of purchase, based on the free competition between aid selling companies, each local Health Service Unit (ASL) selects its supplier.

For other types of equipment, tool, prostheses and technical aids not specifically listed under that provision, it is possible to obtain a tax advantage, e.g. to benefit from a reduced VAT rate (4%) when purchasing them.

 

6.4.     How are guaranteed and financed repairs, maintenance?

This is provided for according to the current commercial maintenance and repair regulations.

6.5.     Is the white cane recognized as a symbol of visual impairment? If yes, specify the conditions related to its attribution, sanctions in cases of abuse, specific provisions regarding its use.

The white cane is only mentioned in Article  191 of legislative decree 285/1992 which provides that “Drivers must stop when a disabled person with reduced mobility or on a wheelchair, or carrying a white cane or accompanied by a guide dog, or carrying a red-white stick in the case of a deaf-blind person is  crossing or about to cross the roadway/street” .

 

7.    Is research conducted in your country to develop new assistive devices? If yes, please specify. How are visually impaired people associated with this research?

Research is carried out in the field of vocalized paths with the participation of visually impaired people's associations.

C. LOCOMOTION TRAINING

 

8.    How are visually impaired people in your country trained in mobility? (Specify training in the regular school or specialized in functional rehabilitation for people who lose their sight as adults, in the context of structures for the elderly.)

Special dedicated courses are organized by the National Association of Instructors of Orientation and Mobility and Personal Autonomy (ANIOMAP), the Institute for Research, Training and Rehabilitation (I.Ri.Fo.R) at the local level. Training is carried out in private facilities, at the Italian Union of the Blind and Partially Sighted (UICI) local branches, at the local health units when it is funded by them, at the Institutes of the Blind (resource centres), or on the occasion of rehabilitation camps.
The contents of a course can be summarized as follows :
Indoor Training (accompanying, body protection, exploration and search techniques, use of long white cane, principles of sensory orientation), Training Exercises in urban areas (exploration of residential areas, concepts of urban area, topography; road crossings, itineraries, orientation) Training routes in commercial areas (location of offices, shops, etc.; getting around in shops, offices , supermarkets, etc.); use of public transport; Training with aids (optical and/or electronic aids for orientation and mobility; use/reading of tactile maps, tactile compass , etc., optical aids (if available) guide dog (if available).

 

9.    What is the training undertaken by mobility instructors? Is it recognized by an official certificate? If yes, specify briefly the content of the training. Is there any on-the-job training for mobility instructors?

Training  for mobility instructors is not provided on a regular basis, but a series of courses have been put in place since 1985 by different entities, such as the “Sant'Alessio” Institute, the Institute for Research, Training and Rehabilitation (I.Ri.Fo.R), the Institute of the Blind in Milan, the Helen Keller Regional Centre of the Italian Union of the Blind and Partially Sighted. Among the most recent ones, a “Course for technicians of education and rehabilitation in orientation and mobility” held in 2005 and a “Course for instructors of orientation and mobility for visually impaired persons” held in 2007;

In the past a few courses were organized and held – in collaboration with Institutes of the Blind - by local authorities (e.g. the Lombardy Region, the province of Florence and the Tuscany Region; the province of Bolzano and the Autonomous Region of Trentino Alto Adige) and in this case they are recognized by an official certificate valid in the region where it has been issued. In all other cases the certificate is just to be considered as a private reference value and is not recognized by the State. The training includes, inter alia:

  • A General Training Module including teaching activities aimed at the acquisition of skills and competencies in the fields of pedagogy, teaching-methodologies, psychology, health-care and hygiene related to the processes of training, education, re-education, rehabilitation of visually impaired people with or without additional disabilities.
  • A Specialized/Professional Training in Orientation and Mobility Module structured in individual lessons with simulated visual impairment (by being blindfolded or by low vision goggles that simulate severe low vision), and teach-back activities. Study and use of assistive technologies/technical aids for Orientation and Mobility, main technical characteristics of materials and resources
  • Direct and Indirect Practical Training including direct instruction to people with visual disabilities and observation at specialized structures and institutions.

The National Association of Instructors of Orientation and Mobility and Personal Autonomy (ANIOMAP) and the Institute for Research, Training and Rehabilitation (I.Ri.Fo.R) both have a Register of competent instructors, to be included in which instructors must have attended the courses mentioned in an ad-hoc list.

D. AUTONOMY IN DAILY LIFE

 

10.       Help with daily life: how are the visually impaired in your country trained to be autonomous in daily life?

Special dedicated courses are organized by the Institute for Research, Training and Rehabilitation (I.Ri.Fo.R) and by some local UICI branches at the local level.
 

11.       Is there specific support? If so by which professionals is it provided and in what context? What is the training of these professionals?

Yes. Support is given by instructors in autonomy. Training is carried out in private facilities, sometimes  at the local health units when it is funded by them, at the Institutes of the Blind (resource centres), or on the occasion of rehabilitation camps. The training includes, inter alia:

  • A General Training Module including teaching activities aimed at the acquisition of skills and competencies in the fields of pedagogy, teaching-methodologies, psychology, health-care and hygiene related to the processes of training, education, re-education, rehabilitation of visually impaired people with or without additional disabilities.
  • A Specialized/Professional Training in Independent Living (Personal Autonomy) Module structured in individual lessons with simulated visual impairment (by being blindfolded or by low vision goggles that simulate severe low vision), and teach-back activities. Study and use of assistive technologies/technical aids for Independent Living (Personal Autonomy), main technical characteristics of materials and resources.
  • Direct and Indirect Practical Training including direct instruction to people with visual disabilities and observation at specialized structures and institutions.

 

12.       Does your country have training for instructors in autonomy? Is there a certificate recognized by the State?

Training  for instructors in autonomy (independent living) is not provided on a regular basis, but a series of courses have been put in place since 1992 by different entities, such as the Institute for Research, Training and Rehabilitation (I.Ri.Fo.R), and the Helen Keller Regional Centre of the Italian Union of the Blind and Partially Sighted. Among the most recent ones, a “Course for technicians of education and rehabilitation in personal autonomy” held in 2008.
In the past a few courses were organized and held - in collaboration with Institutes of the Blind - by local authorities (e.g. the Tuscany Region; the province of Bolzano and the Autonomous Region of Trentino Alto Adige) and in this case they are recognized by an official certificate valid in the region where it has been issued. In all other cases the certificate is just to be considered as a private reference value and is not recognized by the State.
The National Association of Instructors of Orientation and Mobility and Personal Autonomy (ANIOMAP) and the Institute for Research, Training and Rehabilitation (I.Ri.Fo.R) both have a Register of competent instructors, to be included in which instructors must have attended the courses mentioned in an ad-hoc list.

E. PUBLIC INFORMATION AND PROFESSIONALS

 

13.       Is the public informed of the mobility needs of visually impaired people? If yes, by whom and how.

Yes, by means of press conferences/campaigns for independent mobility - to obtain audio information on means of transport and at bus stops and stations, acoustic traffic lights, tactile paving - organized by Disabled People's Organisations (DPOs)  on the occasion of special events, e.g.  guide dog day, dedicated sports events, etc.

    

14.       Do professionals who interact with visually impaired people have any specific training or awareness training concerning visual impairment?

Training is provided for staff in railways and airports, especially for staff in charge of assistance to persons with disabilities.
Local branches of the Italian Union of the Blind and Partially Sighted and of the Institute for Research, Training and Rehabilitation (I.Ri.Fo.R) provide awareness training in the fields of transport, healthcare, social protection, education, culture and sports.
There are also Master degree courses on Universal Design as well as specific courses for architects and engineers on tactile paving.

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