Margherita, 16 anni, non può sentire i suoni. Ma ora può capire: nella sua classe, tutti hanno imparato la lingua dei segni

Margaret, 16, can’t hear the sounds. But now she can understand: in her class they all learned sign language.

History has published La Repubblica Italian newspaper.

You see her at the interval, talking to her classmates, laughing, joking. Their hands move fast, Margaret, 16, can’t hear the sounds. But now she can understand: in her class, the third A of the Oriani technical institute in Faenza (Italy), they all learned sign language. And she, deaf, so she is no longer isolated, separated from the noisy world of her peers by the barrier of her disability. That wall has been torn down. It was the same boys who wanted it from the very first days of school: “Prof, but do we do the school course?”. Said and done. All the teachers of the class have given up at least one hour of their lessons in the classroom and teaching has started: ten hours of Lis, the Italian sign language. The poster with the symbols has been hung on the wall, it helps in the review. Even the professors have learned.

“For us it was more tiring, it’s not an immediate language, the students are faster in learning, they are very committed. It was a bigger situation than they were, they solved it in their own way by asking for the “words” to be able to communicate with Margherita”, comments Michele Orlando, 40, teacher of Italian in the classroom, the course of administration, finance and marketing. He is the one who makes the initiative public during the Christmas holidays. “Why did I do it? I waited for this moment to give a beautiful story to people, to reaffirm the meaning of the gift and of gratuitousness, values that risk to be neglected even at school when you are overwhelmed with bureaucratic formalities, haste, programs to chase. Students don’t reduce them to evaluation grids, they know how to surprise you. These young people have made a difference by taking care of their partner in this way. That should be the norm, let’s hope that at least it gets infected. It’s still a huge educational goal that we’ve achieved, it’s been an opportunity to turn obstacles into a springboard. I’m thinking of the figure of Ulysses overcoming the Columns of Hercules, the limit of the Earth in the Middle Ages. Even the limits of our anxieties about diversity can be overcome, the oars can turn into wings.

The institute in the province of Ravenna has built a didactic project of inclusion for Margherita that started already in the two-year period, explains the headmaster Fabio Gramellini. There is a network, “a family that trusts the school”. With all the problems that support in the classes is experiencing, this is a positive testimony. Every year an “inclusiveness” plan is dedicated to these fragile children with school resources. Margherita has a support teacher and an educator. But it is relationships that matter, as well as notions and skills.

In the transition to the third year Margherita had to start again with new students. And she still found gestures of friendship, a language that everyone wanted to learn to be understood, to speak with her. “Margherita is solar, her companions are relaxed with her. She was useful to everyone, perhaps more to us than to her”, the professor admits. A story that was applauded by Minister Marco Bussetti: “A great gesture of altruism and integration that I hope will set an example for our entire school community”.

Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (MIUR) has allocated six million euros for the training of sign language support teachers. Something is moving. The story of Margherita also contributes to making the school a place of inclusion.

Dad Samuele thanked the Oriani Institute via social means: “Margherita is just a girl with her form of disability, the sounding board that can have this story to sensitize those who have to take care of people like her or in even worse conditions counts”.

Pino Silvestri

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