It is Franco Lisi, who is also scientific director of the Istituto dei Ciechi Foundation in Milan and curator of the well-known exhibition “Dialogo nel buio”, as well as “signing” of our own newspaper. “I believe very much – he stresses in this interview – in the introduction of technologies, which are also common, simple technologies, which can, however, return priceless autonomy to people, first of all blind, but also simply elderly. An environment suitable for people with disabilities, moreover, is a comfortable environment for all” 58 years, married, a daughter, Franco Lisi of Valmadrera (Lecco) is the first blind person to chair the Casa del Cieco foundation of Civate (Lecco).
What’s your schedule?
“The Blind, first: this is written in the statute and, with me, it will surely happen in the facts. I will work with the Board of Directors and the Director, so as to strengthen the specificity of this structure, which is a gem, partially located in places that date back to the NINTH century, also in an extraordinary environment, where the guest can keep an autonomy unthinkable in the city and living in the country, to move in the nature, until you get to San Pietro al Monte”.
While not seeing?
“Well, I personally rode all these mountains, I even rode the Vespa! I have been blind since kindergarten and, as was used in the Seventies, I attended initially special schools, but then I did the Classical High School in Lecco, then I obtained the diploma of programmer in Bologna and then two degrees, in Sociology and Political Science, the latter in Urbino; moving is a challenge that the blind overcome with multiple tools. We must make them accessible to all, first of all the most fragile: therefore, even the elderly”.
You, on the other hand, are already scientific director of the Fondazione Istituto dei Ciechi in Milan: will you keep this role?
«You. I know that in Civate I will have all the support to be able to do it. In Milan I also curate activities such as the exhibition Dialogo nel buio, which brought millions of sighted people closer to the world of the blind. Towards the latter, the challenge is to spread the culture of accessibility in all areas. My path has led me, from the limits of disability, to be who I am and, now, to give back to others a little’ of what I learned, through the challenges, precisely, of a reality in transformation”.
The last of these transformations is the pandemic, which had a huge impact on residential structures. Civate, how’s it going?
“Out of the 95 seats, due to the limitations in the new entries, we dropped to 70 guests only, while 88 is the waterline to not go into the red. Therefore, the House of the Blind, although well managed, due to Covid has accumulated 300,000 euros of deficit. Now, with the compass of accounts in order and strong characterization, we must move towards a change of pace”.
Why are the two aspects connected?
“Monsignor Edoardo Gilardi founded a House of the Blind in years in which the theme was assistance to disabled adults, but it is not that the Blind are now no longer there: the structure of Civate must not lose, but rather accentuate the specificity on visual disability and make itself known for this, presenting itself at all levels, from institutions, to the Blind Federation, to calls for precise vocation”.
The resources, what purpose will they have?
“The circle must be virtuous: investments create improvements, which attract users. You go, trivially, from the reconstruction of the roof to the introduction of technologies, in which I believe a lot: we don’t think of computer complicated, then the elderly do not use; let’s imagine, instead, to equip the House of a Blind man at a home automation simple type to Alexa, through which the blind man is able to get the most diverse performance (from the switch the light on, listening to music), or programs like Audible, reading, etc. They are common technologies, but they give back a priceless autonomy to the person, first of all blind, but also simply elderly. An environment suitable for people with disabilities, moreover, is a comfortable environment for everyone”.
But does technology solve everything?
“Certainly not. Training is also needed to make a difference. There is a sudden, in their relationship with a disabled person, even if you already have a nurse or operators: with the Board of Directors (which include also the Diocese, the Regional Union of the Blind and visually Impaired and the Apostolic Movement of the Blind) and the Director, we will work to ensure that the specifications do not deresponsabilizzi with respect to the purposes defined in the constitution, but on the contrary: to the staff of the cooperative that provides different services will always be provided specific training for the visual deficit”.
What will change, then?
“The priority is to make a person feel blind, then these attentions create an added value to what is already, in itself, a jewel and make the RSA attractive, to have new guests, donations and other funding”.
What about the relationship with the territory?
“We do not want a closed House of the blind, but to network: with the other RSA, with services that we can export to the territory (such as home care, and others) and with what can come from it: we intend to open ourselves to relationships, collaborations, speakers, schools”.