A study abroad opportunity directly related to sign language and Deaf culture, this unique full-semester program provides ASL users a linguistic and cultural immersion into the transnational Deaf-World. Semester consists of core Deaf Studies courses, numerous elective offerings, and a school-sponsored trip to another Deaf community in Italy. Courses are sign language accessible.
In learning Italian Sign Language (LIS—Lingua Italiana dei Segni), students with a solid foundation in ASL will come away from this course with a new perspective and understanding of ASL as a visual and spatial language, and a Deaf-World that expands beyond America. A deeper appreciation and skill toward signed languages will emerge along with an understanding of linguistic characteristics and nuances, use of classifiers, literature, and communication styles within Italian Sign Language. Opportunities to learn and practice these skills arise during local as well as national events held in Siena, as well as in other Deaf communities throughout Italy.
Deaf Culture & History in Italy is not only fascinating, but offers an incredible opportunity to explore another perspective from that of American Deaf Culture and History. The Siena School, located in the historic Deaf Institute of Siena and is now home to the local chapter of the Italian Deaf Association, ENS (Ente Nazionale Sordi – National Association of the Deaf), as well as their museum on the first floor, is an active part of the ongoing culture and history. Special guest lecturers come from all over Italy to provide insight on the multi-faceted and evolving Italian Deaf community. Students will further contextualize course topics and discussions through active engagement with the Italian Deaf Community in Siena, surrounding communities on day-trips—unique with their own histories and cultures, as well as overnight trips to other regions in Italy to fully experience the linguistic, cultural, and historical differences that still exist across Italy today.
Students wishing to have practical application of knowledge they learn through a service learning project, or internship, will have an opportunity to directly contribute to the Italian Deaf and Deaf/Blind communities. By working closely with our non-profit partner, the Mason Perkins Deafness Fund (MPDF), students can assist in various projects such as the creation of educational materials for Deaf children, contributing to Grapevine, a tri-lingual online magazine that informs communities about sustainability and arts for social justice, or other ongoing projects.