Where to Start???

Interested in the area of psychology or linguistics? The Roberto Wirth Fund is a possible host for Gallaudet students interested in Fulbright opportunities in Italy.

Interested in child psychology, counseling or early intervention? The ISTC of the CNR is a possible Gallaudet host for students interested in Fulbright opportunities in Italy.

The cultural exchange between Italy and the United States has been ongoing for more than twenty years. Here’s some of the history:

  • In 1986, the Italian Fulbright Commission, which, with Mason Perkins Deafness Fund (MPDF) and Gallaudet, began the Deafness program with the “Mason Perkins” annual scholarship. This program was developed by Dr. Elena Radutzky, former director of the MPDF and current coordinator of the Deafness Program, and Dr. Ceil Lucas, a professor in the Graduate School Department of Linguistics of Gallaudet University. They joined forces to realize the possibility of offering an annual Fulbright Gallaudet University to study and obtain internship experience in areas related to deafness. The long-range goal was to have these students become professionals in their fields of specialization and leaders in the Italian Deaf community. “By having access to Gallaudet in more than just a tourist way, Deaf Italians were able to make very tangible contributions to their situation,” Lucas said. “It also vastly opened the horizons of the Deaf Americans who [eventually] went to Italy.”
  • By 1992, the Roberto Wirth Foundation funded the annual “Roberto Wirth” scholarship within the same program for deaf educators. After reviewing the unqualified success of the MPDF scholarship, Roberto Wirth, general manager of the five-star Hotel Hassler in Rome, himself deaf, decided to start offering a second scholarship. The specific objective was to send prospective future Deaf educators from Italy to study the latest U.S. educational methods for Deaf children up to the age of six. So, the Fulbright Commission worked with the Roberto Wirth Fund to begin this additional effort.
  • In 1998, the Italian Fulbright Commission completed the program by funding an annual scholarship for American graduate students in the field of deafness. The Fulbright Commission in Italy, enthusiastic about the success of the Italian program, persuaded its Board of Directors to support a true cultural exchange by initiating three annual Fulbright scholarships for American graduate students in the Deaf education field to work and study in Italy.

Any U.S. Deaf or hearing graduate student in a deafness-related field has the opportunity to pursue individually tailored projects in Italy from among these areas: sign language research and teacher training, development of educational materials, teaching American Sign Language (ASL) or English, bilingual education, early intervention programs, interpreter training, production of multimedia tools for education and training, tactile sign research and training of teachers/professionals working with deaf-blind children. In addition, special work proposals are also taken into consideration.

Contact for Fulbright in Italy: Miriam Grottanelli ( to discuss your project vs. the needs of the country and who you should list as the contact person or sponsor.

Related Programs

The Siena School for Liberal Arts In the intensive three-week program at the Siena School, American students will have the opportunity to learn Italian Sign Language (LIS) and written Italian, both in class and through interaction with Deaf Italians. At the same time Deaf Italian students will be learning ASL and written English. All students will thus benefit from the possibility of having linguistic models on the premises. [article “Inside Higher Ed]

The Siena School offers 3 summer courses of interest to Gallaudet students. In addition, students can attend the Siena School for the Fall or Spring semester.

Summer Courses

  • Intensive 3-week immersion for deaf students [VSIE 600: LIS, Cultural Studies and Italian] (75 contact hours)
  • Intensive 3-week immersion for hearing students, [VSIE 601: LIS, Italian and Italian Deaf Culture] (84 contact hours)
  • Intensive 2-week immersion for deaf and hearing professionals, [VSIE 602: LIS and Cultural Studies] (60 contact hours)

Semester Courses:

  • Each course will be equivalent to 3 Gallaudet elective credit hours
  • You must fill out the registration form available in the Registrar’s Office. Click here to download the Siena Registration Form [2011].
  • You must fill out the Siena School application (available online) and submit it to the Center for International Programs and Services – contact Larry Musa, Contact here, HMB E-253.
  • You pay Gallaudet and Gallaudet pays the Siena School for tuition costs. You are responsible for the costs of travel, room, and board.

For more information about this opportunity, visit the Dr. Ceil Lucas, Department of Linguistics at Gallaudet.

Contact in Italy: Miriam Grottanelli (

Contact Us

Fulbright Program

Building 103 207

(202) 651-5135

9:00 am-5:00 pm
9:00 am-5:00 pm
9:00 am-5:00 pm
9:00 am-5:00 pm
9:00 am-5:00 pm

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