In Chianciano, institutions are defining strategies to ensure that all blind children attending school receive what is necessary to fully develop their personality, besides its cultural aspect.

Pier Michele Borra

On Saturday, March 29 of this year, a conference took place in Chianciano Terme concerning integrative curricular and extracurricular activities. The event was arranged by the organizations that compose the national coordination entity between institutions for the blind in Italy: U.I.C. (Italian Blind Union), the National Library of Regina Margherita di Monza, I.R.I.F.O.R. (Institute for Research and Training), the Federation of Institutions for the Blind, and the Istituto Cavazza for the Blind of Bologna.

On that occasion, numerous and interesting initiatives, promoted in various areas, were presented:

- the course on psycho-motricity now taking place here in Bologna and organized within the framework of project C.I.F.R.A.;
- the various rehabilitative and integrative activities developed by the Istituto Davide Chiossone of Genova;
- theatrical activities carried out by the Istituto dei Ciechi of Milano;
- courses and sport activities of various nature developed in many parts of Italy by centres and divisions of the Italian Blind Union;
- the special and often complex activities developed and carried out by the Lega del Filo D’Oro in favour of persons who have additional disabilities besides a visual impairment.

In order to ensure that all blind children attending school receive what is necessary to fully develop their personality, besides its cultural aspect, further thoughts were given to their needs, significant possibilities, legal matters and actual financial resources available. Participants have expressed the difficulties and problems they have experience despite numerous laws, at the national or regional levels, supporting full social and school integration. Unfortunately, however valid these principles are, which are legally well-defined, they are not well supported by adequate financing. The actual reinforcement to ensure rights, that are apparently recognized, is too often left up to a voluntary involvement or sporadic initiatives, which do not become definite and effective practice on a day-to-day basis. On the other hand, the new laws on school reform and those on autonomy of school institutions represent a serious and significant element. With the legislation on school autonomy, the education system has certainly become more flexible, with an increase of potential initiatives. It is important to keep in mind, however, the fragmentation of decisional powers. This is how the role of academic inspectors, now CSA, has been modified, increasing the difficulty for associations to develop proposals and initiatives, while the action of local entities in school government is getting stronger, at least in theory, encouraging a potential increase of initiatives linking school and territory.

It is obvious that there is a necessity for associations and institutions to propose new strategies. In this sense, it is necessary and inescapable to build a new and significant rapport with the representatives of local entities in order to collaborate in establishing adequate plans of intervention and initiatives, ensuring that necessary resources are available to bring life to these initiatives. Such initiatives are necessary and indispensible to make sure that young students acquire full personal, social and educational independence. It is necessary to redefine authorities with regional, provincial and communal organizations, to aggregate them as much as possible in order to be able to plan and coordinate measures, which will truly allow the development of significant and important actions for children and young people who are blind or visually impaired. Numerous and valid laws in our country often present inadequacies particulary when it is time to provide financial resources, while institutional fragmentation anticipates the necessity of a multitude of small personalized activities.

This reality requires us to reaffirm:  
A) the necessity for the associations and our institutions to have a strong planning and proposal capacity;
B) the necessity to individualize with attention political and institutional points of references, as well as organizations with which to build new terms of collaboration;
C) the necessity to exchange knowledge between our institutions, in order to encourage wide dissemination of significant experiences, which in many cases took place in recent years.

For information:
Progetto Lettura Agevolata
Comune di Venezia
Direzione Centrale Relazioni Esterne e Comunicazione
San Marco 4084
30124 Venezia
Tel: 041 274 8050
Fax: 041 274 8189
Web: http://www.letturagevolata.it/
E-mail: lettura.agevolata@comune.venezia.it