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Italian Language – Italian Sign Language

A project of bilingualism “Italian Language – Italian Sign Language (LIS)” started in the State Day Child Care Centre in Cossato with the priority aim to achieve the integration of deaf children in a state school. Since 1997/1998 the project was implemented also in the primary school in Cossato and since 2002/2003 in the junior high school and since 2005/2006 in the high schools of Biella. The project aimed at encouraging the best learning and integration of deaf children, offering them a highly qualified environment in order to develop their cognitive skills and above all to avoid that deafness becomes a collective handicap.
Furthermore, the project includes the bilingual teaching both for hearing children and, unlike what is set by the Italian Law, the inclusion of different deaf children in the same classroom with hearing ones.
People who visit these schools, cannot recognize easily who is deaf and who is hearing, and this is the first result of integration: the hearing children communicate with the deaf in an absolutely spontaneous and easy way, diversity became normality because they are all different and all equal.
It’s an example of real bilingualism, where they focussed on comprehension more than communication. An increasing number of parents ask that their hearing children can attend the experimental classes, because they realize that learning sign language has positive implications. In fact, developing the visual channel and the control of the body helps a lot also the hearing.
It can be the stimulus for a greater and constant circulation of such methods, as future model of education for deaf children. In this school deaf and hearing children proceed autonomously in the learning of two languages. Both of them are fast, autonomous and independent in a context rich in communication opportunities. This project has a proved success through years and the innovative and demanding task of integration has been brilliantly overcome in an efficient way.