Ability Talk is a project developed by Marcella Zandonai after having participated in the training program “IYELabs: Inclusive Youth Environments” which was implemented in Trento (Italy) from October to December 2019 by Associazione InCo. One of the objectives of the Ability Talk project is to raise awareness among the local community as well as the international Erasmus students community in Trento regarding the topic of disability and the everyday challenges that people with disabilities face. We interviewed online Beatrice Nonni, a student at the University of Trento, who talked about her experience and of how important it is to talk about disability with young people. Happy reading! 

Do you think it is important to talk about disability with local and international students? Why do you think that is?

Disability isn’t a popular topic among people which are not directly affected by it or which are not directly working in this sector, thus I think it is important to raise awareness particularly among students, which should be more open towards social issues. I think that oftentimes the lack of awareness within this sector makes the students feel indifferent and detached from people with disabilities, further enhancing their social isolation and marginalization especially when it comes to free-time activities.

During my Erasmus experience I found that abroad, people are much more open towards this topic than in Italy, especially in small cities and for this reason I wanted to be part of the ESN (Erasmus Student Network) which, among others, also manages projects connected to the topic of disability.

Do you feel accepted and included at an architectural level here in Trento? If yes, what do you think the strong points are? If not, what do you think it’s missing? 

The architectural inclusion is always very subjective and it also depends on the type and level of disability a person has. Based on my experience, I would say that Trento is a relatively accessible city. I personally had the luck of living in a student house in the city, few minutes by wheelchair from the Philosophy and Literature University which is a modern and completely accessible building.

I had few opportunities to use public transport in Trento and the experience wasn’t overall positive. In the city, quite a few places have limited or unaccessible spaces and it is particularly in these situations that people need to be supportive and open-minded. Making a city accessible to people with disabilities is not only about removing architectural barriers, which often times it isn’t possible, it is also about promoting a culture of being attentive and willing to support those in need.

Why do you think it is important for the local NGO’s in Trento to work together regarding the disability topic? What outcome do you think it would be possible from such cooperation? 

The Cooperation and collaboration between different entities, with different experiences and way of working, it allows achieving objectives which would be difficult to reach individually.

If the winter semester would start COVID free, would you be willing to contact Handicrea and try to organize the Ability Walk for the local students and the Erasmus students?

At the moment, due to this situation, I am studying remotely, but if the semester would start normally, I would be more than willing to find an available date to organize the Ability Walk.  Involving students in projects aimed at raising awareness of the difficulties we face, giving them the opportunity to put themselves in our shoes by moving themselves in a wheelchair it is a way to bring them closer to issues which they would otherwise not be able to understand.

If you want to know more about the IYElabs training program in Italy, check out our articles here and here.

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