Learning Italian Sign Language at a Deaf-owned wine bar in Italy

Do you learn new sign languages when you travel? One of my favorite memories from Italy: getting to know Barbara Voyageuse Verna, a Deafblind woman who is working to establish a Deafblind association. We met up at the Deaf-owned Ânma winebar in Reggio Emilia. The warm space, with its scrumptious snacks and drinks, welcomes people with all the different ways we communicate — signing, voicing, typing on a phone, or writing with a pencil. I walked in not knowing any Italian Sign Language, Lingua dei Segni Italiana, and walked out with some LIS and new friends.

Descriptive Transcript

Inside a well-lit wine bar, I’m sitting beside Barbara, my left hand over her right hand as she signs. When I sign, she watches visually. We smile and nod throughout the conversation. The bar is noisy, with lots of people speaking Italian. Barbara and I are not voicing as we sign, but for accessibility voicing was added to the video later. Thank you to Laurie Clough for her dubbing!

Barbara: I will sign in ASL, you sign in Italian Sign. Right?
Haben: Yes!
Barbara: OK.
Haben: SÌ.
Barbara: Yes.
(Both laughing).
Barbara: Welcome. You.
Haben: Benvenuto.
Barbara: Good night.
Haben: Buona notte.
Barbara: Buon— Ah! Sorry. (laughing) Good morning.
Haben: Buongiorno.
Barbara: Good afternoon.
Haben: Buona notte.
Barbara: Wrong. Buon pomeriggio.
Haben: Buon (Laughing) you!
Barbara: Buon pomeriggio.
(Both laughing).
Barbara: I’ll teach you more. Hmm. Water.
Haben: Water.
Barbara: Here in Italy it’s acqua.
Haben: Acqua.
Barbara: SÌ! Yes!
Haben: Water, acqua.
Barbara: Wine.
Haben: Wine.
Barbara: Here in Italy, it’s vino.
Haben: Vino.
Barbara: SÌ! (Clapping)
Haben: (laughing) Thank you!
Barbara: Wine. W – I – N – E.
Haben: That’s important!
Barbara: (laughing) Right! Important in Italian culture! Casa. Home, home. Casa.
Haben: Home. Casa.
Barbara: SÌ! Woman. Sign, donna.
Haben: Donna.
Barbara: SÌ! Man. Sign, uomo.
Haben: Uomo.
Barbara: SÌ!
Haben: Thank you for teaching me!
Barbara: Wow! Wow, you’re fast! F – A – S – T. A fast learner, wow! I’m surprised because many-
Haben: You’re a bene teacher!
Barbara: You’re a good student. (Laughing).