Disability and Lockdown: How Not to Leave Anyone Behind

Disability and Lockdown: How Not to Leave Anyone Behind

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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