Do you remember the beautiful movie from 1986 starring William Hurt and Marlee Matlin, about the love story between a teacher working at a school for deaf people and a deaf girl living in the same school?
A beautiful story, indeed, but, 30 years later, many things have changed. Deaf people don’t live anymore “in the shade”, but want – rightly- to be an active part of the civil society.
But, to make it happen for real, it’s essential to give practical fulfilment to principles that, today, are only written on paper or so. For instance, the obligation to have, at least in public offices and institutions, a fundamental figure to enable deaf (not “deaf-mute”, as we wrongly called them for too many years, given that, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the handicap only affects hearing and the pronunciation issues experienced by some people, who were born deaf or became deaf during the very first years of their life, it’s just a consequence of it): the LIS (Italian Sign Language) interpreter.
Associations like ENS (the National Authority for Deaf People) and ANIOS (Association of the Italian Sign Language Interpreters) have been struggling for years so that this professional profile is always present in hospitals, public offices and private studies, schools and universities, but also places of aggregation such as cinemas, theatres and sports facilities, in order to help deaf people communicate with people who don’t know their “natural language” and fully understand what happens around them.
There are many examples of inclusion of the LIS in the educational programmes of some schools or classrooms, maybe to facilitate the integration of deaf students. How beautiful would it be if this language, that has its own alphabet and grammar rules, was taught everywhere, with the same dignity as Italian, English and all the other foreign languages that we enjoy studying!