Sunday, January 15, 2012

Roberto Wirth Fund Onlus

The host organization that I am working with in Rome is called the Roberto Wirth Fund Onlus (onlus means charity/non-profit). The office is housed on the 3rd floor at the Institute for the Deaf. The Institute for the Deaf provides services for Deaf adults, but there is also a bilingual elementary school (Italian Sign Language- LIS & spoken Italian) in this building.

RWF supports Deaf and Deafblind children and their families. Here is the link to the website if anyone is interested. There is information in both English and Italian.

Robert Wirth is a Deaf man who is a hotel owner. The hotel he owns is called Hotel Hassler, a 5 star hotel overlooking the Spanish Steps in Rome. It's ranked among the top hotels in the world...definitely worth taking a look at the website.

I haven't had a chance to meet him yet, but I will soon. I've heard he is a very intelligent and kind man. He studied at Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. for awhile, so he knows American Sign Language (and of course Italian Sign Language (LIS)). I have met three Deaf Italians this week who know ASL because they studied at Gallaudet, so it has been nice to be able to communicate that way!

RWF consists of 4 women, one is a psychologist and specializes in Deafness, and another is an Intevenor from Canada (a person who works with a person with deafblindness), one women organizes fund raising events, and another woman coordinates the budget and other logistics. All of the women are wonderful and extremely dedicated to their work. The office is open from 9:30 to 5 daily, so those will be my hours for my time in Rome. A lunch break usually happens around 1 to 2 pm. I am practicing my Italian language skills with these ladies throughout the day, however when discussing specifics of my project, we speak in English so that everything is clear.

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