CEP 201 – Practicum Critical Disabilities Studies – Discovering Abilities: Narratives, Disabilities and Identities

General Practicum Description
In this practicum students work with professional assistants or people with intellectual disabilities within local social enterprise institutions, such as a restaurant or shop. These associations help individuals with sensorial and/or intellectual disabilities integrate into a real work environment. While these are inclusive institutions aimed at people with disabilities, they are real businesses that have to turn a profit in order to survive. Students volunteering for this practicum will be helping staff in a practical way, but also learn how to relate to people with disabilities and observe how people with disabilities deal with the challenges of a real enterprise. This course offers two possibilities to do a cultural engaging activity: at I ragazzi del Sipario, or Matrix, both local institutions. Both options will be presented during the orientation meeting, and students may choose which one they would like to participate in.

Practicum description
Matrix is a social co-operative enterprise that helps people with intellectual disabilities to integrate themselves in the social and work context. I ragazzi del sipario is a restaurant whose working staff members are people with intellectual and/or sensorial disabilities. They also run a TV channel and have a workshop that produces hand-made goods for sale in a shop. Students will help professional staff (including people with intellectual disabilities) in their activities in the restaurant or the shop. Students will work in two 2-hour shifts (for a total of 4 hours per week).

Seminar description
The seminar meets once a week, and is based on students’ reports about their work, readings and discussions. The seminar will focus on the ways in which people with intellectual disabilities can integrate and be included in the social and work world through an empowering environment. We will also study the stereotypes surrounding disabilities in Italy, how they spread through specific narratives in the media.

Course Requirements and Learning Outcomes
Practicum: Students are expected to carry out their work professionally. In particular they are required to respect the agreed schedule, and be responsible and collaborative with staff. Every week students must fill in their Attendance Form. More detailed instruction will be provided by ISI Florence Engagement Coordinator (dr. Giorgi).
Seminar: Students are expected to join in discussions and activities in class, which will be graded under “Participation” (see below). Students must also send short weekly journals before class. The Journal consists of a brief summary of the week’s activity. Towards the end of the practicum students will write a final essay (no longer than 3000 words) about one aspect of their experience, quoting (at least) one scholarly and one non-scholarly source.
By the end of the practicum, the successful student is expected to 1) have a detailed understanding of how disabilities are negatively stereotyped and the attitudes towards disabilities in Italy; 2) become interculturally aware of the needs and skills of people with disabilities 3) understand how to talk about people with disabilities, acting as a cultural mediator.

During orientation at the Institute, students will receive a list of textbooks and/or course readers they are required to purchase. Students should not purchase any texts before orientation.

Course descriptions may be subject to occasional minor modifications at the discretion of the instructor.