On November 29, 1975, President Ford passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a law that promised appropriate public education to children with disabilities across the United States (learn more). This in some ways laid the groundwork for the American Disabilities Act (ADA) signed 30 years ago, this week. As our colleagues, friends, and alumni celebrate the 45th and 30th anniversaries of these achievements, we at Umbra would like to share some insight into inclusive education in Italy as it intersects with support for individuals with disabilities.
Italy’s constitution, signed in 1947, states that it is:
“the duty of the Republic to remove those obstacles of an economic or social nature which constrain the freedom and equality of citizens, thereby impeding the full development of the human person and the effective participation of all workers in the political, economic, and social organization of the country” (Fundamental Principles, Article 3, p. 5).
Italy has used this as a foundation for the country’s academic system to guarantee education to individuals with disabilities. According to the CPRA Country report (p. 8) it is the only country in Europe with a rate of inclusion of learners with disabilities in mainstream education is 99.6% the remaining 0.4% are provided for by other health or rehabilitation services (CPRA Country Report, p. 12).
According to a summary by the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education, Italy began including students with disabilities in common classes in 1971 and abolished special education schools in 1977 to encourage greater inclusion and integration of individuals with disabilities into society through their time in the classroom. Steps were taken to ensure that facilities and teachers supported the success of these students and decades later Italians continue to emphasize what they call the “individualized life project”, or the idea that health and social services should support people who are in need of physical or mental accommodations as they work toward full integration into family and social life.
Would you like to learn more about disabilities in Italy?
Join Umbra for a semester or summer course on Disabilities Studies, with the semester option providing students with a weekly on-site experience with the Viva Sports Association, the first athletic program for kids and adults with motor and/or intellectual disabilities in Perugia.
Are you looking for additional academic sources?
Click to read about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and associated Acts, like IDEA.
Dig into a wealth of information provided by the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education.
Unpack the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol
Download the WHO’s World Report on Disability