Égalité Onlus and Legambiente they ask the Italian government to recognize the equivalence of wheelchairs to electric bikes. The engine is the same and the inability of people with disabilities to pedal cannot justify discrimination against them. (1) The personal mobility of the disabled is not renounced.
Architectural barriers in Italy they are still ubiquitous and prevent the autonomy of people with disabilities. In private areas but also in public areas, after 34 years of (dis) application of the law that required all the municipalities of the Bel Paese (for a few) to adopt the so-called PEBA (Plans for the Elimination of Architectural Barriers). (2)
Accessibility of buildings, roads and infrastructures, public and private spaces, transport services - for people with disabilities, in Italy - are still very scarce. With all due respect to the commitments undertaken in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the Italian sidewalks are teeming with obstacles, starting with steps without slides and therefore impossible or otherwise dangerous for wheelchairs. (3)
Public transportation in turn it is largely inaccessible. At an urban and peri-urban level, as has been denounced several times, buses and subway stations are often devoid of platforms and elevators. 85% of the stations of the Italian Railway Network (RFI) are also inaccessible! (4)
Facilitate autonomy and the independent transport of the disabled - with a strictly non-discriminatory approach - is a further task of the Italian State. In compliance, among other things, with article 20 of the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. (5) But public personal mobility services, as well as it was reported, are completely non-existent.
Electric scooters to be connected to wheelchairs today represent an essential resource to allow the more than 100 motor disabilities in Italy to move with an appreciable level of autonomy and to compensate for the accessibility deficits of the external environment. These motors can be supplied by the ASL as an alternative (by 'functional equivalence') to electric wheelchairs. And they are well suited to inter-modal transport, thanks to their limited weight and dimensions that allow them to be loaded on other vehicles.
The use of wheelchair mopeds and electric wheelchairs is in fact equivalent to that of electric bikes. For two essential reasons:
- state of need. The systematic interruption of the Italian sidewalks by steps, differences in height and slopes prevents or seriously hinders their travel in a wheelchair, exposing the disabled to situations of even serious danger,
- non-discrimination. The physical inability to give force to the pedals of an electric bike cannot and must not affect the right to use an equivalent vehicle by people with disabilities. (6)
In Italy In recent years, at least 12 electric scooters have been delivered to attach to wheelchairs for the disabled, whose road performance is completely similar to that of electric bicycles. The best-selling of these 'trikes' is produced in Italy in several versions, with speeds ranging between 20 and 48 km / h approximately. A godsend for all those who, among other things, with a shameful disability pension of € 280 / month, do not find it easy to buy a car equipped with the appropriate driving devices at their own expense. (7)
Wheelchairs 'motorized' are theoretically classified and provided to disabled people as'medical devices' recognized 'equivalent to electric wheelchairs'(for internal or external use, as appropriate). However, according to the regulations in force, mopeds should not exceed a speed of 6 km / h, otherwise they must be classified as 'vehicles', pursuant to the Highway Code. (8)
Instead of favoring the personal mobility of people with disabilities, the Italian legislator reserves the only use of baby carriages-snails to the generality of the 'handicapped', as if they were toys in a fairy tale world. And thus exposes them among other things to the danger of being run over every time, due to a state of necessity, they have to move on the road because the sidewalk is impracticable.
In the real world, some thousands of paraplegics and quadriplegics in Italy drive on the road 'atypical vehicles'with an electric motor, in a situation of legislative limbo, under the compassionate tolerance of the authorities who supervise the streets (but not the sidewalks). But the Minister of Transport would now like to punish the generality of 'advance vehicles' - which also include those in question - with a fine of up to € 800 and administrative seizure. In addition to the damage, the insult!
Rights and not pietism. Let's ask to the Ministry of Transport, the Council of Ministers and the Parliament of the Italian Republic the recognition of full equivalence between wheelchairs equipped with electric scooters and electric bicycles. Without renouncing their qualification as 'medical devices', still necessary to obtain their public supply, we ask that the speed limits be consequently raised to 25 km / h, like electric bikes.
Wheelchairs 'intelligent' equipped with integral braking systems must be admitted to greater performance, to meet the daily life and transport needs of adults (> 14 years) who have had or have a driving license, or are following an education course road for at least 6 hours. (9) The least that can and must be done to make up for the serious breaches of Italy, its Regions and Municipalities for the duties established by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
(1) 'Yes it has discrimination indirect when an apparently neutral provision, criterion, practice, act, covenant or behavior puts a person with a disability at a disadvantage compared to other people ' (law 67/06, measures for the judicial protection of persons with disabilities who are victims of discrimination. Article 2, notion of discrimination)
(2) 'plans must be adopted by the competent Administrations for the elimination of architectural barriers within one year from the entry into force of this law ' (law 41/86, art. 32.21)
(3) See CRPD. Article 9 - Accessibility,
(4) in Italy they are now accessible 320 out of 2.030 train stations, of which 600 main stations and 1.430 stations'smaller and less frequented, which together with the others ensure access to the railway network throughout the region'. V. http://www.rfi.it/rfi/LINEE-STAZIONI-TERRITORIO/Le-stazioni/Accessibilità-stazioni
As regards the bus numbers, the previous article on the 'Genoa case',
(5) CRPD. Article 20 - Personal mobility,
(6) To the prohibition of discrimination mentioned in note 1 is added the principle of reasonableness, rooted in European legislation, according to which similar situations must be governed by similar rules
(7) Up disability, poverty and social exclusion see the latest Istat and Eurostat reports,
(8) See Presidential Decree 495/92 (regulation of execution and implementation of the Highway Code), art. 196.1
(9) Also taking into account the particular vulnerability of people in wheelchairs to attacks by dogs and the consequent need to be able to get away quickly (not being able to remove their face from the reach of the animals, nor otherwise take refuge or defend themselves)
Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.