Activities for Deaf Children
Project location: ITALY, Rome
Project start date: July 2006 - Project end date: August 2006
Project number: 2006-20
Beneficiary: Istituto Sordi Roma
Summer Centre "Adventures in town", for deaf and hearing children, age 4-13.
Children in Rome have access to many summer centers, however none of them is equipped to host deaf kids due to communication barriers. For this reason the Institute decided to offer kids the opportunity to live a summer adventure in the city which is equal to that being offered to hearing kids. In order to do so, a bilingual Italian/Italian Sign Language center was chosen, namely the "Fulvio Bernardini" center which is part of the UISP organization in Rome. The deaf children will be part of a summer center monitored by deaf and hearing supervisors. The opportunity to be part of a group rather than an individual in a summer center is of great significance. In fact, they usually are in a class of hearing kids at school where the language used is Italian, therefore to be in a bilingual group is a significant possibility for growth and dialogue.
The following is a Project Report by The State Institute for Deaf of Rome (ISSR), September 2006:
Summertime Recreational Center: "Adventures in the city"
The State Institute for Deaf of Rome (ISSR) and "the Train" have organized a Summer Recreational Center for deaf and hearing children from 4 to 13 years old, financed by the Nando Peretti's foundation.
The project "Adventures in the city" planned to include 15 deaf participants in the Summer Center "E...state coNoi", at the sports center "Fulvio Bernardini" in Rome, where every year hearing children are involved into recreational activities.
Deaf children, who took part in the project, were in the same group of hearing children of Fulvio Bernardini; they have been followed by deaf or hearing signing operators and divided in 4 working weekly shifts starting from the third of July until the 28.
Overall, 90 children a week have attended the sports Center; they were divided in three groups depending on their age:
4-6 years old
7-10 years old
11-13 years old
A small number of deaf children was included into each group, that was helped by a deaf or hearing signing operator.
Everyday the children took part to activities (that were different based upon the three range of age) from the morning to the late afternoon (7.45 am-17 pm).
In the morning, after the welcome time to the participants, from 9.15 am on, the following sports have been organized: water games, climbing, tennis table, skating, archery, tournaments and team games (volley, basket, tennis, football, etc).
At 12.45 a.m. it was lunch time and the children gave their cooperation in arranging the lunch:
the older ones helped the operators setting the tables while, after lunch, all the children were asked to clean up the place.
The afternoon was usually dedicated to team games: the treasure hunt, the colors battle, the tricycle competition and laboratory's activities as the cooking lab, manipulation activity with second quality stuff, theatre lab, sign language lab, the painting lab, the drawing and comics or musical lab.
With this project we could offer to our children the opportunity to live a summer time adventure in their city (into a special feature sports center) in a bilingual environment (that means a place where sign language is used as Italian) where hearing and deaf children could be together without communications barrier.
Deafness, actually, brings an "hidden" handicap, not visible to a first look so, as a consequence, it is difficult to focus on all its implications. The hearing loss "can't be seen": it can only be recognized in the communication time; so hearing persons do not always give enough attention nor are available to their needs.
It's important to keep in mind that there is a difference about deafness between the words "deficit" and "handicap" even if both of them are two sides of the same reality.
On one hand "deficit" is referred to a physical aspect measuring the loss of a competence; "handicap", on the other hand, are all the limits and the obstacles that a deaf person has to deal with, during social interaction such as at school, at work, in the spare time, etc.
With this project we wanted to reduce the handicap to show that, when communicative obstacles are pulled down, deaf person live entirely playful time with hearing persons.
A summer center organized in this way as explained above:
- On one hand, allowed deaf children to take part completely to all the games and activities, to have a communicative interaction and the opportunity to share the game-experience with hearing play-mates enriched their Italian competence. The presence of bilingual operators (who know both, Italian and sign language) allows children who are following a speech therapy, (that may take 10/12 years to be completed) having for this reason a limited Italian competence, to be involved at the same way to the game activities, because these were explained quickly and in details in Italian Sign Language. The inclusion of deaf participants in the team group would have been much more complicated, whether only spoken language was used.
- On the other hand, the project gave to hearing children a new exciting context environment where they could know Italian Sign Language and could learn how to approach "different" children. Even the youngest boys, in fact, tried to "move their hands" to interact with their deaf play-mates and to share the games with them. This experience has been very positive, it's basic for a real acceptance of deaf children by the hearing group, who recognize them as persons with different attributes, better than us in some task (as the visual attention and memory); that reduces the negative vision of deafness. At last, the sports center operators, who were at the beginning "scared", lived the experience with cooperation and enthusiasm and demonstrated to themselves and to our young participants that diversity is a richness for all individuals and for the group.