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Education Abroad, U.Va.

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Programs : Brochure
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Siena School: Italian Sign Language and Deaf Culture (Summer)
Siena, Italy (Education Abroad Programs Program)
Program Terms: Summer
Homepage: Click to visit
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer 2019 01-APR-2019 ** Rolling Admission TBA TBA

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.
Fact Sheet:
Class Status:
1st year, 2nd year, 3rd year, 4th year Minimum GPA Requirement: 2.5
Open to Non-UVa Students:
No Housing: Homestay
Language Courses Offered: Yes Language of Instruction: English, Italian, Other
Credit Type:
Transfer Credit
Program Type:
Tuition Payments Made To:
Program Provider
Education Abroad Advisor:
Liz Wellbeloved
Application Fee:
Study Abroad Administrative Fee:
Subject Area:
Cultural Studies, Other Languages and Literature
Program Description:

The Siena School for Liberal Arts operates study abroad programs for American students. In 2007, the school began a unique program that offers students of American Sign Language the opportunity to study a markedly different sign language, Italian Sign Language (LIS), and the history and culture of the Italian Deaf community.

Located in Tuscany, Italy, Siena is a great place for students to learn more about the global Deaf-World. During the 19th century, Siena served as one of the most important centers for deaf education in Europe. Its Pendola Institute for the Deaf became a renowned school for deaf students and community outreach. Though now closed, Pendola helped to nourish the vibrant sign language and culture of Deaf Italians; the Siena School currently occupies part of Pendola’s former building.

The three-week summer program offers classes in LIS, Italian Deaf Culture, and spoken Italian (at present U.Va. can only give transfer credit for the first two classes). By studying a Deaf culture and distinct sign language in another continent, students gain insight into the nature of sign languages and global Deaf experience.


UVA Professor Christopher Krentz ( is available to discuss the academics of this program.

SIG101 Italian Sign Language
LIS: Communicating Through a Different Means

Course Description
During the course we will only use LIS with the objective of understanding and producing sentences, which are the basis of everyday conversation. At the end of the course, the student will be able to satisfactorily communicate in LIS on basic everyday topfics.

ASL IV or equivalent

SIG102 Italian Deaf Culture
The History and Culture of the Italian Deaf Community Summer

Course Description
Our course examines the History, Culture and Education of the Italian Deaf Community from a multidisciplinary perspective.  The aim is to explore the sociological meanings of culture and community and their application to the Deaf community in general.  We will focus on the educational experience of deaf people in Italy and in Siena where there is one of the oldest Residential School for the Deaf, founded in 1828 by Father Tommaso Pendola.
The Italian Deaf Community still recognizes it as a school. Though it is no longer one, it is still used by deaf students for afternoon tutoring and homework supervision.
The Education of the Deaf in Italy is strongly connected with the development of Italian Sign Language (LIS), students will acquire the sociological and cultural tools necessary to understand and reflect on the Deaf way of life and the historical evolution of the Italian Deaf Community and Culture.