Bernadette Lo Bianco

Bernadette Lo Bianco

Project Manager of Accessible Siracusa and Noto, Sicily, Italy: Accessible Itineraries-Siracusa and Noto also in Sign Language


Biography

Professor Bernadette Lo Bianco, who was born in Catania on 7/28/73, a resident of Syracuse via Acradina 32, a professor of engineering at the Tourist Hotel Institute "Alfio Moncada" Lentini, is a member of ENAT (European Network for accessible tourism) and an expert in Ceremonial and Protocol National and International (at the Italian Society for International Organization, Rome), and tourism - in particular for Accessible Tourism.
Works closely with Roberto Vitali, founder and president of Village for all.
She was also compose technical Committee for the Development and Promotion of Accessible Tourism for the Training Group established by the Minister for Tourism in the Department roman Development and Competitiveness of Tourism under the coordination of the mission structure for the revival Italian picture.
The activity carried out by Professor Lo Bianco's main objective is to add to and complement the tourist offer of Sicily in order to ensure, to the entire territorial area, a reception Tourist really "ALL" and "FOR ALL ".
Among the most important initiatives promoted by Professor Lo Bianco, in the last three years to achieve the above mentioned objects, include:
1) the adoption by the hotel management school "Alfio Moncada" Lentini - for the first time in Italy - the first manual on "Quality of Hospitality Tourism of guests with special needs";
2) the organization, in collaboration with Roberto Vitali, founder of Village for All, the first Conference on Accessible Tourism in Eastern Sicily, and of the Conference "Tourism and Celiac Disease: a possible combination" in collaboration with the AIC Sicily;
3) institutionalization - for the first time in Sicily - at the Shrine of Our Lady of Tears, the Sunday Mass in LIS (Italian Sign Language) in favor of deaf people;
4) the promotion and institutionalization of "Theatre in LIS" at Syracuse in Sicily finally even the deaf may attend classical performances in the magnificent scenery of the Greek Theatre in Syracuse";
5) the promotion, in collaboration with the Harbour and the Confcommercio of Syracuse, the awareness campaign "Beaches for All", for the purchase of chairs Job to enable people with mobility impairments to reach the sandy shore;
6) the promotion of the "Siracusa and Noto in Sign Language", which resulted in the dissemination of a brochure artwork - fully designed by Professor Lo Bianco - of tourist itineraries tailored to the specific needs of deaf people through the presence of sign language interpreters. Said the brochure was presented in February 2013 by Professor Lo Bianco at the International Tourism Exchange in Milan at the stand of the Italian Department of the Ministry of Tourism at the invitation of the Italian Institute for Tourism for All;
7) the creator of the "SEA FOR ALL, BEACHES FOR ALL”, “SYRACUSE FOR ALL", a project of local and territorial development based on the creation of accessible and sustainable hospitality in the Syracuse area.

Abstract

“Syracuse and Noto also in sign language” is a pilot project in Sicily: up to now, in fact, no city of Southern Italy has proved to be fully accessible from the point of view of tourism and culture, opening its doors to the deaf community and destroying all communication barriers.
People with specific needs must enjoy the same opportunities as for cultural participation as those given to anybody else, in terms of both fruition and creation. The possibility to participate in cultural activities for people with difficulties depends on the removal of obstacles in the places designed for culture. Organizers and institutions, which make efforts to fulfill this goal, gain popularity with a new range of visitors and improve their own image with the public opinion.
Language, values, traditions, norms and common identity are the sociological features of one’s own culture, which is closely related to the sign language yet little known by hearing people. Nevertheless, the deaf are excluded by the culture of hearing people (theatre, conferences, discussion on art, etc.).
The exchange of information between these two worlds is an enriching experience for everybody. Accessible culture is a big battle for civilization. It is an act of diligence to build a better society for everyone, where silence, solitude and marginalization will be finally cancelled. Museums, institutions, people working in the field of culture and social development agents must commit themselves to find future ways in accessible culture and a new grammar code on how to live space and time according to values shared by anybody and everybody in inclusive culture. A new frontier for cultural heritage where museums and sites take new social responsibilities and give tools and opportunities to people with their own identity, differences, expectations, needs, curiosity and abilities, thus establishing new base parameters where diversity is the real wealth.
That is why, in collaboration with each other, the cultural and tourist resources of Syracuse and Noto led to the creation of a list of tourist routes suitable also for deaf people and not only for them.
It is something innovative and different compared to the usual routes as it takes into consideration the needs, time and specific values of deaf people, which can be included in tourist and cultural routes telling the history of Syracuse and di Noto with the help of an ISL interpreter accompanying tourist guides.

All this contributed to make Syracuse and Noto two complete tourist destinations improving their offer and enlarging their range of clients: a perfect anti-crisis solution.

Actually, since this project has been implemented, the tourist flow of deaf people – which had been equal to zero up to then – has developed exponentially and has driven the deaf community of various regions (first Sicily but also Lombardia, Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige and Piemonte) to visit Syracuse and Noto, also in low-season periods and prolonging their stay on the territory (7/15 days).

The increase in the number of visitors, the growth in the tourism competitiveness of the territory, a longer tourist season and the involvement of a new target market are only some of the positive social and economic effects which accessible tourism may offer.

The project "Syracuse and Noto also in the sign language”, sponsored by the Departments for Culture and Tourism of the Municipalities of Syracuse and Noto, was powerfully supported also by the Chamber of Commerce of Syracuse, through the Consorzio Siracusa Turismo, by KAIROS association, the Association of Tourist Guides of Syracuse, Natura Sicula, the Consortium of Taxi Drivers and Village for All, the famous quality brand for accessible tourism.