Accessible beaches - without architectural barriers and with an amphibious wheelchair, type JOB, to accompany people with disabilities in the water - remain a pious illusion in much of Italy. Although a state law has prescribed them since 1992.
State-owned concessions and their renewals are subordinated to thethe effective possibility of access to the sea for handicapped people' (law 104/1992, art. 23.3)
The wheelchair logo tag at the entrance to the factories is often misleading. Sometimes those who do not walk can barely reach the bar-restaurant area, which is very different from entering the water and experiencing the sea.
An accessible beach to people with disabilities requires some minimum structure requirements:
- a walkway path, uninterrupted and free of obstacles, from the entrance to the shore,
- one or more pitches with umbrella and raised sun loungers (to facilitate transfers from the wheelchair and vice versa),
- an amphibious wheelchair, to accompany people with disabilities into the water (without forcing those in wheelchairs to enter the sea with their own),
- reserved toilets and showers accessible with a support seat. Whether it can be reclined and fixed to the wall or removable, as long as it is suitable and approved,
- accessibility of the bar, perhaps even with a part of the counter accessible to those who are seated.
The entry into the water it is the crucial element to distinguish an accessible establishment. The facility must have a 'beach' wheelchair, to ensure safety that is not compatible with humiliating, albeit generous, transshipments with arms.
The amphibious chair perhaps cheaper and more widespread in Italy is the JOB, although other models perform the same function. Lifeguards, of course, must be available to conduct it and have received minimal training on how to help people with disabilities.
A list of the beaches (only in theory) accessible is offered by the blog InVisibili, in the Corriere della sera. The census is organized by Regions and has 650 beaches on 8.300 km of coastline. But be careful, the establishment mentioned in the list does not always offer the essential services mentioned above.
Before going to the beachin short, it is necessary to check. Faced with the risk of staying out and listening to space bales, like 'we are awaiting delivery of the chairs''the platform will be built next week'etcetera, which those who experience a disability know well.
My list of accessible beaches can be consulted at this link, thanks to the painstaking work of the InVisibili blog.
Public institutions and private operators persist in disapplying the law. All state concession holders have the duty to guarantee the effective accessibility of bathing services but almost all do not care and no one controls them, as seen.
For the disabled today in Italy, only paper rights remain. We can make origami with the Italian Constitution, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and applicable laws. The only holiday guaranteed to all is the postcard sea, with all due respect to the existence of a Minister for Disability in the government of the 'best'. Next
Dario Dongo and Marta Strinati
Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.