If you have questions about this program, email the program leader listed below.

Study Abroad: Italian Sign Language and Italian Deaf Culture

Program Details

The arrangements for the travel, housing, meals, excursions and course content of this program have been made by the leader. Questions about this program can only be answered by the program leader listed below.

Program Type Departmental
Program Location Siena, Italy
Course # SA 10340
Duration Summer
Upcoming Program Dates
To Be Announced
Past Dates
Summer 2024 06/06/24 to 06/28/24

Program Leader

Name Sharon Borkowski
Email sborkow@purdue.edu
Please Note: Programs may be altered or adapted with little notice

Enrollment Details: Enrollment Currently Closed

Program Description

This is an unique study aboard opportunity for students who desire to learning another sign language and to advance their American Sign Language (ASL) proficiency.  The Deaf Studies Program at Siena School of Liberal Arts in Italy provides signers an opportunity to engage in a Deaf-World that expands beyond the US, a three-week summer program learning basic Italian Sign Language and Italian Deaf Culture & History. This immersion program invites ASL users a fresh perspective on ASL as a visual and spatial language. Students can expect to acquire basic Italian Sign Language (LIS) and to be introduced to the deaf culture and community through the lens of Italian culture, language, and the history of deaf Italians. We will explore the history of deaf education, starting from long-ago eras, through to the time of the Milan Congress, and on to the modern day. The course will present what happened in Italy before and after the historic Congress and will further trace the growth and development of Italian Sign Language (LIS).

Siena, Italy: famous for its cuisine, art, museums, and medieval cityscape is home to one of the oldest deaf schools, the Pendola Institute, founded in 1828 by Father Tommaso Pendola. This crucial landmark for the Italian deaf community no longer functions as a school, but it still serves the Community by offering a place where deaf students may go to receive afternoon tutoring sessions. The Pendola Institute boasts an extensive old library devoted to deaf issues. It also houses a small museum, including a reproduction of a classroom from the past as well as various tools that educators used in teaching deaf students.

Participants will have the opportunity to meet with former students from the Institute who will share their own personal stories and discuss the broader history of the interactions of deaf and non-deaf people within Italian society. We will also explore other Sienese traditions, and discover how the deaf community of Siena has been invovled in the "Palio", the most famous horse race in Italy.

For more information on the program, you may visit the program website. Or you may contact the program leader, Sharon Borkowski (see her contact information above).

Academic Credit

Students can expect to earn a total of six credits - LC490: Italian Deaf Culture & History (3 credits) and LC399: Italian Sign Language Level I (3 credits). With a Minor in ASL, students would be able to count these credits for the minor.


This program is open to students who have completed at least two semesters of university study and has completed ASL 101, ASL 102, ASL 201, and ASL 202 by the start of the summer program. Successful candidates will demonstrate academic success, maturity and a desire to experience another culture.

GPA Requirement: 3.0 on a 4.0 scale

Language Requirement: Have acquired ASL IV or equivalent

Program Cost

Students pursuing program participation accept financial responsibility. Purdue will take measures to mitigate financial risks, although will not be liable for loss.

Costs for this program are estimated and subject to change. The cost figures listed below are in US dollars for Summer 2024.

Program fee: approximately $5,000

Included: Program tuition (6 credits)/course fees, study abroad fee, basic health insurance, accommodation in a double room/shared apartment, 2 group meals (welcome dinner & farewell dinner), roundtrip ground transportation from the airport to/from the study abroad site, and two overnight-stay at a hostel nearby Rome airport upon arrival (prior to the start of the program).

Additional costs: airfare, airport transportation, meals (can be prepared in shared kitchen), additional health insurance, travel documents (passport and photos), additional at-cost optional excursions and activities, and personal expenses.

Financial support: Studying abroad is an investment in your future, but that doesn't mean it has to break the bank.  By planning ahead and taking advantage of available resources, you can make your international experience as cost-effective as it is rewarding. See below the Financial Aid section for more information on financial support/scholarship opportunities.

Application Deadline

The application for this Summer Study Abroad with the Siena School involves a 2-step process.

Step 1:  Click above to enroll in this Study Abroad opportunity and complete the application. Upon completion of the application, it will take you to "My Study Abroad" and there will be a checklist/instructions for each document to provide.  This is due by February 2nd, 2024. 

Step 2:  Upon receiving acceptance for enrollment by the Purdue Study Abroad Program, you will receive information from the program leader for additional required steps to complete your application with the Siena School of Liberal Arts.  This application process and the $500 deposit (non-refundable) will be due by March 1st, 2024.

The deposit will be deducted from your program fee upon billing. Students are advised to review the cancellation policy prior to making the deposit. Acceptance guaranteed to this program is on a rolling basis as soon as the application AND deposit are received.

Financial Aid

Purdue University financial aid may be applied to the costs of studying abroad. Students interested in receiving financial aid should

NOTE:  Recipients of certain tuition remission and scholarship programs should pay careful attention to the regulations for using those benefits for study abroad.  Ask your financial aid advisor about any limitations.

Click here for a list of scholarships and grants available to assist with the costs of studying overseas.