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LN – “What I learned from a person with disabilities”

First is the cimbronazo, that
“unique and unrepeatable impact” It occurs in the life of a family or a person with the arrival of someone with a disability. This is how Elizabeth Aimar, founder of the
Legal and Social Assistance Network (RALS) and mother of Juan Agustín, a young man with cerebral palsy.

“From the immediate environment – family and friends – to mediate – neighbors and co-workers, for example -,
Everyone is affected by this new way of life, either with the birth of a child or if a person acquires a disability“says Aimar, lawyer and author of the book
Uncomfortable. And he adds that, even in an era in which inclusive discourse predominates, “there are many who felt, feel or feel uncomfortable with disability. Only knowledge will make them lose their fear.”

For her, the rights that the norms guarantee – in Argentina, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, sanctioned in 2006 by the UN, has constitutional hierarchy since 2014 – are postponed until we complete a more complex task: demolish myths, deconstruct stigmata and preconceptions, “for just there initial the road to empowerment and the exercise of rights.”

There are many who felt, feel or will feel uncomfortable with the disability. Only knowledge will make you lose your fear

Elizabeth Aimar

At
International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the specialists emphasize that when the prejudices fall,
but above all
when families and people with disabilities have the fundamental support to boost their autonomy and develop their potential, when public policies accompany and become effective, that's when, according to specialists, there is
true inclusion: in classrooms, at work, in groups of friends, in families. The result is enriching for everyone. Overcoming, patience and commitment are some of the values ​​that highlight those who share these inclusive spaces.

90,000 children with disabilities are integrated into common schools. Although this enrollment grew 400% in 15 years, for most it is still very difficult to get vacancies.


Ezequiel
Ezequiel “Zequi” Speroni, surrounded by his friends, holds the ball before a match

“Lately I am hearing about many cases of young families who, when they go to an interview to choose a school, find out if it is an inclusive institution, if there are students with disabilities,” says Gabriela Santuccione, coordinator of the
Group Article 24. And he continues: “They ask because they consider it an added value, because they want their children to be educated in a real world, appreciating diversity, to value themselves and the other.”

Although those who have been working on the subject for decades maintain that there has been progress, being part of a truly inclusive world remains a great outstanding debt.

“The road to an independent and autonomous life has a lot to do with the social perception of disability, its recognition and in what standards of coexistence and inclusion we live. Until recently, people with disabilities were not only not recognized as subjects of rights, but were directly segregated, “says Aimar. In addition, it underlines the need to “implement public policies aimed at effectively enforcing everything we subscribe to in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, making reasonable adjustments in legislation.”

1 of 4 households has a member with a disability. There are 3,571,983 people who have some kind of physical or intellectual limitation, according to the latest Indec data.

But there was progress. For her,
talking about “people with disabilities” is the result of a new look, the social look, “which is fixed in the deficit but also in support”. “Disability is a real deficit, but we can compensate it with human and technical support, which comes to compensate for everything the person cannot do and allows him to be in a university, in a job, have a family, live alone.
When we give the person the step and put the disability as a condition that through support can not be reversed, but equated, there we talk about inclusion“concludes Aimar.

Disability is a real deficit, but we can compensate with human and technical support, which comes to compensate for everything the person cannot do.

Elizabeth Aimar

“It's a locomotive, not for”

When their youngest daughter was born, Rosario and Marcos went through the same earthquake, which, with some variations, causes disability in all families. Sadness, bewilderment, anger, fears, uncertainty, the “why us”, pilgrimage by different doctors in search of answers, digest the diagnosis and “recalculate” as a family.

Maria arrived in the world with hypotonia in the left part of her body and without the developed auditory nerve: in other words, without any possibility of listening. Today, she is 11 years old and is an affectionate baby girl, with long blond hair, big smile and pink frame glasses, bearer and about to start a new path: she finished 4th grade and next year she starts 5th in a common school, with the accompaniment of an integrating teacher.


María (at the center), with her parents, Marcos and Rosario, her sisters, Greta and Alexia, and her dog, Rosita
María (at the center), with her parents, Marcos and Rosario, her sisters, Greta and Alexia, and her dog, Rosita Credit: Guadalupe Veloso

When he was two, he had an implant in his brains so he could listen. But before, at seven months and still without diagnosis, he began to go to Las Lomas Oral, a school that assists boys and girls with severe hearing losses. There, it is sought that they can incorporate the spoken language by training their audition and the objective is to be a passing school, so that they can then be included in another common one. For María and her family, having that support was essential.

Greta, 16, and Alexia, 14, are Maria's sisters. All three are very companions. “At the beginning, they were very young. Maria was in hospital for a month and we took turns sleeping in the sanatorium. Her sisters did not understand and it was hard, they asked us to give them a ball. But they got over it,” Marcos says. those first months, the most difficult.

“Maria is strong, a warrior, because she struggles every day to get an effort and self-overcome. I never told her, but I admire her: she always has a positive mind, puts a grip on everything and tries to do her best,” he says. Greta Alexia, match. She still remembers the fear she felt, in the holiday colony, that her sister had her implant soaked. “I noticed those things, I cared a lot. Maria taught me to be more patient,” Alexia says.


María (craving), with her sisters, Alexia and Greta
María (craving), with her sisters, Alexia and Greta Credit: Guadalupe Veloso

Everyone agrees that, every time Maria undertakes a challenge, she leaves everything on the court: from horse riding to playing tennis, to riding a bicycle or studying for an exam. Always seeks to overcome. “What teaches us all is that life is persevering and you will succeed,” summarizes Rosario, her mother. “It's a locomotive: it doesn't stop,” adds Marcos.

Today, for their sisters, sharing different spaces with people with disabilities, from school to riding lessons in the private neighborhood where they live, is “the most normal”. “Maria was always part of them and they accepted it naturally, they incorporated her into her whole life, for example, to her groups of friends when they came home. They have a different, special sensibility,” concludes Rosario.

The right to a job is one of the most violated. The inactivity rate among people with disabilities is 64.1% and unemployment reaches 10.3%.


Tecnolav is an industrial sustainable laundry, located in the Villa Crespo neighborhood; 13 people with disabilities between 18 and 50 have already been hired
Tecnolav is an industrial sustainable laundry, located in the Villa Crespo neighborhood; 13 people with disabilities between 18 and 50 have already been hired Credit: Victoria Gesualdi / AFV

“They come to break your prejudices”

The first day he went to college, Tomás Yánez thought he was living a dream. It was in the middle of last year and “did not fall.” “I never imagined it. When they made the proposal, I thought: 'Look you, I'm going to work and study!'” Tomás recalls.

He is 23 years old, works at Colegio Marín as responsible for physical education materials and is one of the students who participate in the University Inclusion Program for Young People with Intellectual Disability of the University of San Isidro (USI). The objective of this initiative is that they can start within the areas of Advocacy and Social Communication, taking some selected subjects from those careers that then allow them to be inserted in the workplace.


Tomás Yánez with María Laura Ochoa, one of his teachers at the USI
Tomás Yánez with María Laura Ochoa, one of his teachers at the USI Credit: Fabián Marelli

“We did not want to build a parallel path for people with disabilities, but to interact, in the framework of curricular subjects, with the rest of their classmates. It was a challenge because there were several edges to attend and we wanted it to be a positive experience to all, “explains Fernando Barilatti, from the Acompañado research center, from the university.

María Laura Ochoa is Dean of the Faculty of Legal Sciences and was a professor of Introduction to the Law of Tomás and his fellow students. “I'm not prepared,” was the first thing he thought when he was told that students with intellectual disabilities were going to join his course. “The more heterogeneous the group is, as a teacher you have to look for different tools to reach them all. The fear one has is not knowing if you are going to have those tools,” says Ochoa.

For her, all the previous accompaniment, during the course and at the time of taking an exam, that the program team, composed of psychopedagogues and support teachers, was key. They are the ones who make the adaptations and accompany them in the classroom. “You think you are not prejudiced and open, but these students really come to break your prejudices because the result surprises you,” says Ochoa.

The inclusion program works thanks to the contributions of a foreign fund and the boys are awarded scholarships. It began to be designed, “in an artisanal way”, at the beginning of last year and, in the second semester, the first litter began. “It took a while until a consensus proposal was reached within the university, always with the intuition that the incorporation of students with disabilities was going to do very well to the university,” says Barilatti.

The trajectories last two and a half years: in the first four-month period, an introduction to university life is made; while, from the second to the sixth, boys and girls attend twice a week. In the last four months, a professional practice is planned. Currently, there are nine students with disabilities and, next year, six more will be added.

13% of people with disabilities completed higher education, either complete or incomplete and those with only one disability reached higher educational levels.

Those who pass all the subjects will receive a certificate of university assistant in social communication and social organizations; or university assistant in legal and business organizations, depending on the training course they have chosen.

Regarding the impact that occurs in the rest of the students and teachers, Josefa Satragno, director of the program, says: “What they contribute fundamentally to the university environment is this possibility of approaching and knowing a person who has an intellectual disability, because otherwise it is known that it is impossible for one to measure which are the talents in which they can stand out. On the other hand, he adds: “In addition, there are some myths that exist regarding what they cannot, and they are seen in their integral dimension of people. When there are programs that focus on their possibilities, they overcome difficulties and surprise with results to those who arrive “.


For Tomás, the first day of class at the university was like a dream:
For Tomás, the first day of class at the university was like a dream: “It didn't fall,” he recalls. Credit: Fabián Marelli

Tomás lives in Tortuguitas with his mother, Andrea, who is a hairdresser, and his father, José, who is a seller of hairdressing supplies. “I had never imagined that I was going to college. My parents couldn't believe it either. At first they were afraid, but not anymore. It's like everything else,” says the young man.

On his way through the university, there were difficult times. “One day I said: 'Ready, I leave'. But a partner, Natalia, told me: 'No, don't quit!' And since she told me that, I changed and continued,” says Tomás.

The subject he likes most is Introduction to Audiovisual Production. “There we see from the assembly to the type of camera,” he explains. Today he has to present his final work: a one-minute video that shows everything he has learned. “You have to rely on a story and I chose to tell day and night. I am happy with my product,” says the student.

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Publicado en el diario La Nación