On May 19, 2021, Italy officially recognized LIS (Italian Sign Language).
May 19, 2021, is a historic day: Italy bridged the serious delay that had led it to be the last of the countries in Europe not to have recognized its own national sign language.
After a decades-long struggle, disappointed hopes, battles in all locations, awareness campaigns, sit-ins, petitions, conferences, projects and massive street demonstrations and after this so complicated period, which has done nothing but bare and amplify the discrimination that deaf people experience every day, we have finally reached this very important result, a sign of civilization and an achievement not only for deaf people, but for all of Italy.
There is no official recognition of Italian Sign Language (Lingua dei Segni Italiana, LIS) yet. Those who oppose LIS recognition say this language is "grammarless," although, by definition, a language cannot be, in fact, grammarless. Several research on the matter have already shown that Italian Sign Language is a proper language.
"Sign Language Legislation in the European Union", Wheatley, M., A. Pabsch., Edition II. Brussels, EUD, 2012:
"Italian Sign Language is not recognised or mentioned in any federal legislation in the republic. there is legislation though at regional level (e.g. Sicily or Valle d'Aosta). Attempts have been made a number of times to get LIS recognised as a language in its own right at federal level. There have been concerns about the government wanting to pass a bill calling LIS a 'mimico-gestural language" rather than a natural language, but the Italian Deaf Association (Ente Nazionale Sordi, ENS) has been involved in the campaigns to get LIS recognised and has received broad support from grassroots demonstrators, the European Union of the Deaf, and an on-line petition. Nonetheless, Deaf people fear the proposed bill will stay in Senate or the Chamber due to the financial burdens the law might bring upon the government in the middle of a financial crisis. If however, the law passed as proposed, LIS would be recognised as a fully-ledged language."
Number of Deaf Sign Language Users
40,000 (EUD website, December 2016)
National Sign Language (Research) Centres
- Gruppo per lo Studio e l’Informazione sulla Lingua dei Segni Italiana, Gruppo SILIS - Onlus, Rome
- SLDS - Sign Language and Deaf Studies, of the The Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies (ISTC), Rome
- La Collana Cultura Sorda