29 November 2021

Driving impact for persons with disabilities – A smile can change the world

In the film industry, Italian dubbing is universally recognised as the best in the world. In recent years, new technologies have reduced the size of the equipment, making it possible to have mobile workstations that can be adapted to the most varied needs.

In 2011 the project’s initial idea was to train new dubbers and, from 2016, it was expanded to bring dubbing as a recreational / training activity to paediatric patients with professional dubbing rooms being brought to the wards. The project also collaborates with the schools of the Tuscany Region.

Each meeting, which involves participants’ interaction with Experia professionals and modern technology, gives the opportunity to deepen participants’ knowledge of the audiovisual sector, and offers the ability to create a finished product by working in phases, steps or even in different moments and places.

The adaptability of the project to the most disparate environments, including hospitals, was therefore a strength.

After the paediatric departments, the project turned to adolescents, a networked project that involves different professionals such as: experts in the audiovisual sector (professional actor-dubber), sound technicians, psychologists, educators, tutors and various public and private partners.

The children involved today are adolescents with disabilities (from autism spectrum disorders to people with Down syndrome, etc.), with difficulties in the area of ​​language (stuttering, reading disorders) and / or of foreign nationality. A laboratory offers the possibility to work in a diversified but individualised way on numerous contents (inclusion, emotional communication, group dynamics, language acquisition and enhancement, etc.), and is divided into specific objectives according to the working groups. It recognises the centrality of the group and its potential for learning and socialisation, and for this reason is structured in annual courses on a weekly basis.

The project intends to stimulate and promote the process of social, cultural and professional integration, using the dubbing tool and starting from direct work with the adolescents.

The project aims to:

  • Foster the knowledge and learning of a new skill that children / teenagers rarely experience in other contexts
  • Ensure the centrality of the participants (of their times, their needs) and the expression of the characteristics of each one
  • Take advantage of the benefits and potential of teamwork, while keeping an eye on the individual;
  • Create a protected context in which to experiment freely and in which to make mistakes an opportunity for play, challenge and learning
  • Stimulate and strengthen positive group dynamics
  • Improve the group climate and interpersonal relationships
  • Include diversity

Each group, depending on its specific characteristics, works on the following specific objectives:

  • Encourage identification and emotional expression, through the mediation of the characters to be dubbed (putting yourself in the shoes of…)
  • Accompany the recipients in the process of selection, interpretation and creative personalisation of the role
  • Develop communication skills, functional to the integration process in different life contexts
  • Improve the use of the voice and the management of time pressure
  • Broaden the lexical repertoire and improve understanding
  • Reduce anxiety related to oral expression
  • Acquire a correct diction (pronunciation and intonation), as a valid tool for achieving greater command of the Italian language
  • Stimulate the recognition and expression of emotions in a creative, personalised and mediated way

The expected results are:

  • The increase in integrated planning and collaboration between professionals and schools, for the purpose of taking charge and shared management of complex situations
  • An improvement at the end of the path in the stimulated areas (communicative, emotional, metacognitive) but also in the relational and social dimension
  • The long-term use of the places and tools made available during the activity, starting new specific projects in the following years

The meetings include:

  • Dubbing sessions: viewing and analysis of the scenes, selection of characters, interpretation, etc.
  • Knowledge and creation of the group
  • Specific activities for each group
  • Initial and closing warm-up exercises
  • Deepening of dubbing techniques (breathing, post-synchronisation)
  • In-depth study of the elements complementary to dubbing (sounds, music, noises, etc.)
  • Diction

The meetings took place physically until the beginning of March when the confinement for the COVID-19 emergency effectively stopped all activities on the national territory.

However, with the equipment available, it was possible not to interrupt the path started, by activating online meetings that made it possible to work profitably and continuously, without distorting the project.

These online activities have proved essential to keep the adolescents connected to each other in the period of isolation, continuing the construction of the group activities previously started. The adolescents were involved and participated, as collected in the feedback to the educators.

During the COVID-19 emergency, the association was unable to activate the initial idea that called for involving several schools in the area, so instead offered an innovative and functional experience of inclusive dubbing with the Istituto Comprensivo Garfagnana and the Istituto Comprensivo Barga (comprehensive school).

Finally, in collaboration with the Istituto Comprensivo Garfagnana, a radio drama entitled The Lord of the Flies was created, loosely based on the novel by William Golding.

The rule of having one person at a time in front of the microphone responded, with a few other precautions, to all pandemic requirements, and the chosen text was the perfect metaphor for the isolation of our young people in a period of lockdown and the right representation of the value of the rules of our society and school.

The project, involving high school and theatre class students, dusted off radio drama in Lucca. It’s an audio film (not an audio book): it was created for the radio, it has all the various characters, background noises (recorded by the participants), just as if it were a film, an activity and training at the same time and which did not neglect the current rules on social distancing.

All the episodes are published on the web and on various platforms: Spotify, Vimeo, Apple podcast and Google podcast and also on the doppiosorriso.it website. It is also available on Amazon-Audible.

Given the success, the activity continued with the radio drama loosely based on Dangerous Liaisons, a novel by Pierre-Ambroise-François Choderlos de Laclos.

The project achieved success with professional techniques by non-professional adolescents (even with difficulties or disabilities) who have been accompanied in this path by highly qualified personnel such as Alessandro Bertolucci, director, and Gianni Nuzzi at sound.

View the episodes


Elizabeth Franchini
Program Officer, Fondazione Banca del Monte di Lucca