Negotiating Accommodations: One Deaf Student's Experience

Perseus with a white hat and sunglasses on in the streets of Florence
To plan for study abroad in Italy, Perseus McDaniel found that arranging and funding accommodations can take time, and if at first you don’t succeed…try again!

Perseus McDaniel knows what it means to try, try again.

Perseus, who is Deaf, was accepted into a study abroad program in Florence, Italy to study literature and creative writing. As a student at Edmonds Community College, he planned and organized his trip, which included funding from the state of Washington for two American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters to join him.

Two and a half weeks before his flight to Italy, he learned that due to budget cuts, the state of Washington wouldn’t fund his ASL interpreters. It was too late to arrange other funding and too late to get a refund on his plane ticket.

Then he tried again.

A year later, after arranging the necessary accommodations, including funding from the Edmonds Community College Student Government to pay for two ASL interpreters, he spent a semester in Florence studying geography and Italian language. In his classes, he learned to read and write Italian, but did not participate in the spoken portions. He worked with staff at Edmonds Community College to request an approval to replace the speaking portion of his classes with learning to sign in Italian Sign Language (LIS), but it was wasn’t approved due to complications in the grading system. He opted to devote his free time to learning LIS and by the end of his experience, he was communicating directly with his Deaf Italian peers.

"I discovered that I could communicate with Deaf Italians smoothly, and even engage in long conversation. Being able to share tons of stories about our cultures, experiences, politics and fairy tales is my most savored experience from Italy."

According to Perseus, his experiences in Florence were the richest experiences of his life. The only thing he wishes he could’ve done differently? "I'd stay longer!"