May 26, 2011

Reflection on 25th May in Rome, by the ANIOS President

This is an English translation by Marco Nardi of reflections of the 25 May 2011 by the ANIOS President, Marcello Cardarelli.

Hi to you all,

The first day of protest has gone by. Yesterday morning (25th May 2011), there were many of us in SS Apostoli square (Rome - Italy), for the first day of remonstrations. An intense day that has emotionally and professionally drained us.

Many italian Deaf people descended on Rome from extreme north, such as Piedmont, and from the far south in Sicily. We were able to witness presentations by representatives of various Associations, Deaf people in general, various authorities in the research field, and Deaf and hearing parents of Deaf children. For those bystanders that did not know anything about this issue, it became clear that all the prejudices towards Sign Language are unfounded and as spoken and sign languages could naturally and harmoniously cohabit the same space without problems.

We had moment of poetry in sign language, sign singing and young Deaf people drumming away in a magnificent way a show demonstration and a celebration. All this has attracted lots of curious members of the public as well as journalists. A great moment was when I caught the mesmerised eyes of the cameramen and interviewer of TG3 (RAI 3 NEWS - Italian National Broadcasting Television channel) when they eventually managed to take all this in. By the way, the recording is going to be broadcasted today at 19.00 (Italian time) rather than 14.00 as the director liked the full item, rather than the edited version for the earlier edition.

[...] During the morning, in the square, two of the members of the XII Commission for the Social Affairs have joined us, the mover of the original motion, Hon. Gero Grassi (MP), and the Hon. Luciana Pedoto (MP), they both have on side reiterated their support and commitment for the recognition of Sign language and the aim of not allowing any amendment to the proposed text (avoiding any extravagant proposals - LMG or Communication Technique - to replace Italian Sign Language). However on the other hand, they have reflected on the current situation in the commission debate: a number of other members raised the incompatibility of the DDL with the article 6 of the Italian Constitution (regarding the minority languages).

[Art. 6 La Repubblica tutela con apposite norme le minoranze linguistiche. - Art 6 The Republic safeguard the linguistic minorities with specific norms.]

If this is the case, the amended version will have to go back to the Senate for the final approval. The MPs did not necessarily speak to the public but gave their best wishes to the event and communicated with all those authorities (us included) surrounding the stage. Lets see if this is exactly the case. It is clear that in the next week there will be another round of hearings with the commission.

The Hon. Oreste Rossi (Member of the European Parliament - MEP) has updated us about the fact that the European Parliament has recently added, in the guidelines for the next ten years, the recognition of sign languages in the various member states, this new attempt will make more difficult for these countries not to comply with it, even though it might still be possible.

[In the original message the next paragraph is a series of thanks to all that have contributed to the success of the day and to all Deaf and hearing people around Europe and the world that have participated in many different ways and in particular to those that have gathered at the various Italian Embassies making their remonstrations heard.]

But it does not finish here, today (26th May and tomorrow (27th May) there will be more protesting at the front entrance to the Italian Parliament.

Marcello Cardarelli
President of ANIOS
Translation Marco Nardi

More clips on the following website:

With thanks to John Walker.

Protest Round Up on Wednesday 25 May 2011 (& Thurs 26 May)

This is a round up of the coverage (I know about), for the protests on Wednesday 25 May 2011, in support of the Italian Deaf community in their quest for recognition of LIS. Before the jump, this rallying of support - it is a privilege to be part of such a community. Watching the videos, looking at the photos and commentary; I know I'm not the only one who's proud of you all.

London, England

Deaf Protest for Italian Sign Language - Part 1 (video on Sign-Tube)
Deaf Protest for Italian Sign Language - Part 2 (video on Sign-Tube)

A comment from John:

We had a great day today. We were opposite the Italian Embassy from 12noon until 3pm and signed 'LIS YES, LMG NO', with a few drums and rackets to make some noise. Stefania Bella and Marco Nardi, our resident Italians, went to the back gate to hand in the petition and the police were already there to push them out. Luckily two Embassy staff came in and claimed 'they knew all about it'; they were willing to take the petition to the appropriate office. Thanks to Ramas Rentelis and Alison Bryan for their help. We were also filmed by the Hub and See Hear - we should see something on the TV soon.

Hats off to: Stefania Bella, Marco Nardi and Ramas Rentelis and everyone else who protested.

Belfast, Northern Ireland

LIS Protest at the front of City Hall, Belfast (video by Paul Stewart, on Facebook)

Belfast collected an additional 244 paper signatures, from people on the street. And also got the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Pat Convery to sign the petition!

Hats off to: Lina Cankas, Jamie Rea, Danny Rea, Richard Beattie and that blue eyed fella from Dublin (sorry Lina doesn't remember his full name) , Colette McMahon, Paul Stewart, Rory Mcgee, Éamon James McCaffrey, Bernadette McCaffrey & their wee sweet son, Adam McCormick, Holy Lane, Bar.

Dublin, Ireland

John Bosco Conama at the Italian Embassy in Dublin, "Newsflash ambassador refused to take in letter and petition even after opening them. We re angry and still waiting for an answer!"

Photos by Elizabeth Fitzgerald: Protest for Deaf Italian Community @ Italian Embassy (on Facebook)
Kevin G Mulqueen: Vigil Protesting at Italian Embassy (video on Facebook)
John Bosco Conama: Vigil outside the Italian Embassy, Dublin (video on Facebook)
Elizabeth Fitzgerald: Protest for Deaf Italian Community @ Italian Embassy, Dublin (Facebook)

Hats off to: John Bosco Conama, Irish Deaf Society and everyone who protested.

Berlin, Germany

Hats off to: Ace Seyed-Ali, Rita Mazza and everyone else who protested.

Madrid, Spain

Hats off to: Belén Navas and everyone else who protested.

Washington DC, USA

LIS Protest at the Embassy of ItalyM (photos by Jean Boutcher, on Facebook)

The source of this information is from Robert Mason (on Facebook), which I've edited a bit to suit here (the substance remains the same):

30+ people showed up and made their presence along with a later suprise visit from the NAD CEO Howard Rosenblum; and Chief Operating Officer, Shane Feldman.

One Deaf Italian Gal, Gallaudet student, DODA shared her deep knowledge of what was going on with the Italian legislative process and IMG. She explained that the IMG was on the Italian law books for years until the younger generation demanded that the current law to be formally recognized as the Italian Sign Language, not the Mime and Gesture.

Jason Lamberton, the Yaon (French) and Matt Malzuhun had a conversation with the Consul Attache. The Consular Attache said that Rome did get the messages from DC and other places.

Howard (NAD) told the protestors that the NAD was all behind the international protest.

Hats off to: Jason Lamberton and his co-host Yoan and everyone who protested at Washington DC.

San Francisco, USA Deaf Protest at the Italian Consulate in San Francisco

Hats off to: Ella Mae Lentz and everyone who showed up in SF yesterday.

Boston, USA

Boston was closed at noon yesterday, but they are supposed to be going today.

The Plan to Petition the Decision on LIS (video by John Pirone).

Video of the protest at the Italian Consulate, Boston

Hats off to: John Pirone and everyone else involved in Massachusetts

Rochester, NY, USA

A staff person was met at the Consulate. More on this later - Patti Durr is going to try and put together her experience later. (If she does, I'll link here - check back)

Hats off to: Patti Durr

Osaka, Japan

Informal meeting with the official representatives at the General Consulate of Italy; in Osaka, Japan.

Hats off to: Emilio Insolera, Hirota Yoshiharu, Danny Gong, Yasunori Shimamoto.


I assume this protest was at the Italian Embassy in Buenos Aires.

Hats off to: Argentinian protestors!


The centre of it all.

Various links

News summary in LIS from TG3 (Italian TV). The campaign for LIS is 3 minutes in.

Hats off to: the Italian Deaf Community! We're right behind you.

Do you know any more? That's what the comment box is for.

Comments from John Walker on the Situation in Italy

This is some commentary from John Walker on what's happening in Italy (his partner is Italian):

I had a conversation with a friend in Italy, the motives for LMG is a little more sinister. Members of the upper house were influenced by the organisation representing parents of deaf children and the equivalent to the national health service. They are nervous that money will be diverted from their budgets in order to pay for this decree (it is not equivalent to the 'recognition' we have in the UK, there is money attached to this decree). Their strategy is to replace LIS with LMG.

The key emphasis that is at play here is the letter 'L' in the acronyms:
Lingua (as in LIS) - a language;
Linguaggio (as in LMG) - a pan term to describe all forms of communication including flowers, bees, morse code, gestures, signs, languages etc. I am not sure if we have a direct equivalence in English.

Furthermore, LMG is what signed language was called many years ago as the word 'sign' in Italy did not come close to what we know of signed languages today - it was nearer to display signs. It wasn't until CNR researched the semiotic features of signed language in Italy that the
word of 'signs' came into the dictionary. So the upper house are using an 'old' term for something that is lower classed, vague and without full clarity that the language of deaf people in Italy is a bona fide language.

The change for LMG will lower and water down the original decree.

This explanation shouldn't be misconstrued with 'Sim-Com', as this is not what LMG is. The distinction is closer is the difference between American Sign Language and 'America Visual Communication' - the difference loses the political dimension of a language that represents
a community in Italy.

For those who were asking about the text on the Italian Parliament website, appearing to support LIS:

... there is no actual source to the LMG proposition as it was received as part of a consultation exercise. The report from the consultation hasn't been published yet because the process hasn't finished. It just needs a line to say "any other descriptions of LIS that fall short of a language, eg. LMG, should not be considered.

On the morning of Wednesday 25 May 2011, I got:

Some news from Italy.

They have had some meetings yesterday - I am aware that ANIOS (association of sign language interpreters in Italy) have had their meeting. They were very professional about. The response wasn't as good as they hoped. Their political support were not showing signs of enthusiasm for the decree. FIADDA, NDCS equivalent in Italy, were throwing lots of wild Milan-1880-type comments. Unfortunately it has left seeds of doubt in the MPs' minds, when they are already nervous about their tight budgets. It is doubtful that the decree will go through as it stands and the lower house will dig in their heels.

This news makes the work we are doing even more important to tell the Italian Government that we mean business. Especially as they have more meetings today. ENS (Italian Deaf Association) has their own meeting at some point, not sure when.

And more information from John last night:

The original decree (DDL) has been passed through the Senate and how now returned to the House of Parliament for its first round of consultation. The first people to be consulted were those of medical professions and FIADDA, the organisation representing parents of deaf children. It was here where LMG was raised. The motives for the change is not explicit but we are aware that there are concerns over two issues: the cost of a language law and political pressures from families (Italy has a cultural relationship with 'la familiglia'). FIADDA, in particular, has no interest in signed languages or bilingual education, they advocate only the pure oral method and the normalisation of deaf children. The shift to LMG is politically motivated in order to water down the original decree.

The emphasis for you is the potential impact LMG on the political status of signed languages throughout the world. If we were to reach a situation where LMG was accepted as law, it would create a precedence for other Governments to follow suit. This is the reason for the proactive stance on LMG.

See also:
Press Release from FIADDA Tuscany
Deaf Londoners Preparing for the Protest at the Italian Embassy
Press Release from the Irish Deaf Society: Vigil at the Italian Embassy, Dublin
Note from Terry Riley, Chair BDA to those Protesting
Press Release from the Belfast Protest in Support of the Italian Deaf Community
Italian Embassy Events on Wednesday 25 May 2011
How You Can Support the Italian Deaf Community
Letter to the Italian Parliament from Dr Steven D. Emery
Protest at the Italian Embassy in London this Wednesday
Letter to the Italian Embassy in Dublin by Dr. John Bosco Conama
Italy might as well say: Deaf People use Monkey Language!
International Petition to Support Italy & UK Protest

May 24, 2011

Deaf Londoners Preparing for the Protest at the Italian Embassy

Thought you might like to see some Londoners preparing for the protest tomorrow.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

All photo credit: Ramas Rentelis

Hope to see you there? Here are details of the protests / vigil that I know are happening tomorrow (London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin, Washington DC, Berlin).

If you have not done so already, please sign this international petition. It will be handed into the Embassies tomorrow.

See also:
Press Release from the Irish Deaf Society: Vigil at the Italian Embassy, Dublin
Note from Terry Riley, Chair BDA to those Protesting
Press Release from the Belfast Protest in Support of the Italian Deaf Community
Italian Embassy Events on Wednesday 25 May 2011
How You Can Support the Italian Deaf Community
Letter to the Italian Parliament from Dr Steven D. Emery
Protest at the Italian Embassy in London this Wednesday
Letter to the Italian Embassy in Dublin by Dr. John Bosco Conama
Italy might as well say: Deaf People use Monkey Language!
International Petition to Support Italy & UK Protest