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Abecedarium: the Ocean in Sign Language

"Abecedarium: the Ocean in Sign Language” is a participatory and inclusive project by TBA21–Academy - Ocean Space born in collaboration with ENS-Ente Nazionale Sordi ONLUS (The Italian National Agency for the Deaf), and with the support of the Institute of Marine Sciences (CRN-ISMAR), which aims to map out and create a new vocabulary for the Ocean and its environment in Italian Sign Language (LIS), starting with a hands-on event that actively involves the deaf community.

Ocean Space is collaborating with the The Italian National Agency for the Deaf to actively involve the Italian deaf community in mapping out all the existing and / or known signs relating to the marine world, to verify which signs are not part of everyday use (such as the term "Anthropocene” for example) with the aim of creating a common vocabulary for the deaf community.


Since January 2021 “Abecedarium: the Ocean in Sign Language” has involved the deaf community via an open call, inviting 12 deaf participants to help build a vocabulary of terms and signs in LIS (Italian Sign Language) linked to the ocean and its environment.

The group of participants took part in 15 training sessions conducted by scientists, researchers from the Institute of Marine Sciences, artists, and architects, exploring issues relating to the safeguarding of the world’s oceans, and focusing on the linguistic discussion around existing and known signs linked to the marine world.

In response to the measures taken to mitigate the the risk of Covid-19, the training took place online between January and May 2021, at the end of which the working group and the participants carried out a series of in-depth video interviews in Italian Sign Language in which they spoke about the first phase of the project.

Watch the 12 video interviews on Ocean-Archive.org