• 01/04/2007

José Balaguer

What are the Association´s major achievements in these 25 years? Some the objectives we have met are: an improvement in aspects related to the elimination of architectural barriers in buildingsor innovations in adapted means of transport, the creation of jobs for wheel chair users and, a bove all, making society aware of our existence. There has been great progress in all these matters . I rem ember that, when I had the accident that caused my disability 35 years ago, it was a normal thing to go out and hear people say things like "poor young man!". Luckily things have improved since then . Society is very much awake to and well informed on the issue and this has been on e of our main objectives right from the start: achieving equality, that is, going unnoticed . Now adays people are well aware of what may happen to them : 70% of spinal marrow damage is caused by traffic accidents .

What have you done to achieve your objectives? We hold a conference very year. This is a very enriching way to share information, adviceand soon. It is very important for us as it allows us to share our concerns . We also have a psychosocial assistance programme to help more problematic cases; a personal assistance and autonomous life programme ; and adapted van for travelling which is also available to those who need it . We hold meetings every two months at La Fe Hospital in which we provide information to patients and general public .

What sort of government support have you received? The Valencian government provides a lot of support. At the conference today the Secretary for Quality and Attention to Patients announced the setting up of a rehabilitation and keepfit programme for Association members . The regional Ministry of Health has always been very helpful . Perhaps one of the most important projects we currently share with government , in this case the Valencia local Council, is the construction of a shel tered-flat building in a plot which the Council made over to us a few years ago.

Do you take into account building accessibility when choosing a venue for your events ? If a building has major architectural barriers we give up on it automatically and do not hold our events there. The main thing is that architectural accessibility is being improved all the time. We have been using some venues on a regular basis and have gradually managed to persuade them to adapt , install lifts etc . They have improved their premises to make them accessible . The Conference Centre is a good example of this: it has been fully accessible from the moment it was built . It also has to be said that the authorities are showing an increasing concernfor our problems and promote all these improvements in buildings . There is still a lot to be done ,but we want our lives to beas ordinary as possible so our demands will not stop until this goal has been achieved.