Many times, a person has to experience something firsthand to carry out a project they had in mind. Something that drives the idea. That was what happened to Juan Pablo Fabrissín, a communicator who decided to present a proposal to make sign language a mandatory subject in primary schools in Santa Fe after his wife was about to go deaf.
“Something that could help socially was always on my mind, but I lacked that final motivation to sit down and write to myself. I think that the personal situations experienced were the corollary that I had to do something, and what better than helping other people,” the man told TN.
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Although the presentation was made in Reconquista, the objective is to carry out a test in three schools in the North, Center and South regions of the province so that it can later be replicated in more institutions. He even dreams of it expanding throughout the country since in Argentina there are 9.1% of people who have a sensory hearing deficiency, according to data from the National Registry of People with Disabilities published in November 2023.
In that sense, the objective is “to include all those citizens that the system has left out and reverse a situation that only requires the will to give a clear signal that we are all equal.”
The two situations that inspired him to present the project
The pivotal year for Juan Pablo was 2016, a time when a family issue led him to rethink many things. Gisela, his wife, suddenly suffered sudden hearing loss in her left ear.
“It was really very hard and distressing for the family to go through that moment. There were a lot of habits that changed in our daily life, but what 'terrified' me the most was the fact of thinking that if she became completely deaf she would not be able to fully communicate with our children Francisco and Sofía,” she expressed. Currently, the woman has a partial hearing disability.
A few days after hearing loss appeared in her life, she experienced a situation in her real estate agency that she took as another sign of destiny: “A young deaf-mute woman came in to inquire about available rentals and it was very frustrating not fully understanding what she needed. Finally, the girl chose to leave without being able to communicate with us. “That was like a blow of reality.”
Juan Pablo with his wife and children, who drove the project. (Photo: Juan Pablo Fabrissín)
After these two sequences, an internal click was activated and he thought that it was essential to implement the teaching of sign language in the primary school curriculum: “It is these situations that mark us and make us understand that many times we are not very inclusive in the life”.
That same year he wrote a project and presented it for the first time to the Santa Fe Ministry of Education, but it did not prosper. “This year I decided to fight very hard, I am convinced that this time there are more possibilities of success,” he said.
Although he regrets not having insisted sooner, he said: “If there is one thing I am sure of, it is that if you have an idea, you have to say it, socialize it, not hold back.”
What does the project say and what are the foundations?
The project proposes to “incorporate the teaching of sign language in three primary schools of the national educational system in its different modalities in the following regions of Santa Fe: South, Center and North.”
In articles 2 and 3 it indicates that it will be the provincial Ministry of Education that will prepare the curricular guidelines corresponding to this proposal, in addition to taking charge of the hours necessary to teach the classes.
Within the proposal, he explains that “Argentine Sign Language (ASL) is the visual gestural system that the deaf community uses naturally to communicate (through the body, space, gestures, looks, mimicry, etc.).”
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And he emphasizes: “Thanks to it, deaf people can establish a channel of communication with their social environment, whether made up of other deaf individuals or anyone who knows the sign language used. While in oral language the communication established is through the auditory-verbal channel, sign language does so through a gesture-visual-spatial channel. LSA must be understood, approached and respected as another language to be learned.”
“Introducing LSA as a subject within the curricular design of basic education is vital to take another step towards inclusion, respecting the linguistic and social diversity of people who suffer from deafness,” he adds.
There is a reality and that is that in recent years the educational level has dropped at the national level, which conditions and complicates to a certain point the possibility of adding workload to an education that is in decline: “The idea of implementing it is based mainly on the real inclusion of people who suffer from this disability. I am sure that in 10 or 15 years we will be able to have personnel in public and private positions with sufficient cultural and linguistic background so that deaf people feel truly included.”
The project seeks to have Santa Fe primary schools teach sign language. (Photo: Adobe Stock)By: wavebreak3 – stock.adobe.com
Likewise, he admits: “The entire project can be perfected, workshops can be carried out in a didactic, child-friendly way, with the workload that the teaching staff deems appropriate. “We are talking about an educational public policy and not just another subject.”
There are some precedents, such as in Córdoba and Río Negro, which in recent years have approved similar projects: “Maybe the implementation in Santa Fe will not be in the short term, but it has to start at some point,” he concluded hopefully.