Number 54 • January 2015



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Another Public Policy Victory by AHIMSA

in the State of São Paulo, Brazil

Perseverance, secret of all triumphs1

(Victor Hugo)

In Brazil it is mandatory that all children be enrolled in school. However only the schools in a very few cities, mainly the large metropolis’, offer specialized services. We recognized over a decade ago that inclusion was the answer to provide specialized services for all students throughout Brazil. Unfortunately our teachers did not have the necessary qualifications or received any training to teach students with multiple sensory disabilities.

With this in mind, a group of professionals from AHIMSA (Educational Association for Multiple Disabilities) and part of Grupo Brasil2 visited Canada in 2004 to learn more about their intervention services program and the professionals called Intervenors. From this experience in Canada, the AHIMSA group came to understand that this type of professional could provide the necessary support to ensure full inclusion of students with deafblindness and multiple sensory disabilities in regular schools in Brazil.

We are pleased to say that hosting the 15th DbI World Conference in Brazil in 2011 has led to very fruitful results for inclusion programs for our multiple sensory disabled students. Since receiving the support from local governmental agencies for hosting that event, providing service for deafblindness and multiple sensory disabilities is now more visible in our local educational programs.

In 2012 the State Secretary of Education of São Paulo3 promoted a Regional Forum4 where Shirley Maia and Claudia Sofia from AHIMSA participated in 11 seminars that reached a total of over 4000 professionals involved in education, including teachers, school managers and municipal secretaries of education. These information sharing sessions assisted the educational authorities to properly identify the students (with sensory disabilities) that were already in schools but not receiving proper education for their disability due to the lack of knowledge about their condition and appropriate educational needs.

As a result of these efforts, the State Secretary of Education of São Paulo published in their official journal two years later on November 12, 2014, a resolution5 that deafblind students and students with multiple sensory disabilities have the right to a guide-interpreter or an intervenor to support their inclusion in regular schools throughout the state of São Paulo. This is a major victory! Once publicly acknowledged in our state and throughout Brazil, we will be able to reach out to more states in Brazil ultimately to have a nationwide agreement for this necessary support of intervenors in the education of people with deafblindness and multiple sensory disabilities. Persevere and you shall triumph! All you need to do is Believe and act accordingly


Shirley Maia and Vula Ikonomidis
For more information, contact: vula2004@hotmail.com
1 http://izquotes.com/quote/89081
2 www.grupobrasil.org.br. Grupo Brasil is a small corporate member of DbI.
3 www.educacao.sp.gov.br
4 See DbI Review Edition 51, July 2013

5 Resolution SE 61, 11-11-2014: Provides for Special Education in the school units of the state school system:

Article 10 – in order to provide the necessary support to students of Special Education, enrolled in classes of elementary or high school education, in any form of education, the school may have the following professionals:

I – interlocutor teacher of Brazilian Sign Language (LIBRAS), admission as regulated by Resolution SE 38/2009 to act in the condition of interlocutor in LIBRAS, of the school curriculum, between the regular class teacher and the deaf student / hearing impaired;

II – teacher translator and interpreter of Brazilian Sign Language (LIBRAS), bearer of one of the qualifications requested for teacher interlocutor of LIBRAS, in the Resolution SE 38/2009 and qualification in one of the disabilities requested, to act as translator or interpreter of the school curriculum, between the regular classroom teacher and the deafblind student;

III – teacher intervenor, bearer of a full degree with qualification in one of the disabilities requested, with the objective to intermediate the school curriculum, between the regular classroom teacher and the student who may present multiple sensory disabilities in addition to deafblindness or physical disability.

IV – caregiver, according to the Terms of Conduct Adjustment signed between the Public Ministry / Government / SP ( São Paulo) and the Secretaries of Education and Health to act as provider of services in the following situations: a) when required and authorized by the family;

b) for students with disabilities whose limitations entail permanent or temporary difficulty in school routine, and who cannot perform, independently and with autonomy, among others, activities related to feeding, oral and personal hygiene, use of bathroom, locomotion, and the administration of medicines with prescription and expressly authorized by the responsible, except in the event that this activity is private to nurses, under the specific legislation.


IIIº International Seminar on Deafblindness and Multiple Sensory Disabilities


As part of celebrating 15 years as an organization, Grupo Brasil1 held its third seminar on Deafblindness and Multiple Sensory Disabilities, October 27-30, 2014. This was undertaken in partnership with the University São Paulo – USP2 and with support from São Paulo Research Foundation, FAPESP3. The theme of the seminar was: ‘School inclusion and Assistive Technology for people with deafblindness and multiple sensory disabilities’. One hundred and fifty professionals from throughout the state of São Paulo and the states of Espirito Santo, Rio de Janeiro and Pará participated in the event.

The program featured keynote presentations and round tables. The two key note speakers were: Dr. Maria Bove (University of Vermont4 – USA) lecturing about the ‘Bridges for Inclusion Project’5 and Gloria Gil (Perkins International6 – USA), speaking about Assistive Technology for People with Deafblindness and Multiple Sensory Disabilities. The three round tables were titled: 1) Public Policies for Educational Services for Students with Deafblindness and Multiple Sensory Disabilities. Participating in this round table were representatives from the Municipal and State Secretaries of Education, the Municipal Secretary on the Rights of the People with Disabilities and Reduced Mobility and the National Secretary on the Promotion of the Rights of the People with Disabilities; 2) The Importance of Families as Communication Partners. Leading these discussions were Dr. Susana Aráoz (Rondônia), representing the Brazilian Association of Parents and Friends (Abrapascem) and Dr. Isabel Amaral (Portugal); 3) Building Possibilities for Collaborative Work between Universities and Institutions. Participants leading these discussions were: Dr. Isabel Amaral (Portugal), Dr. Maria Piedade Costa (Universidade Federal de São Carlos- UFSCAR7), Dr. Maria Bove (USA), Gloria Gil (USA) and Dr. Karina Pagnez (USP).

In addition to the keynotes and round tables, the seminar included such workshops as: Communication with Congenital Deafblindness; Communication with Acquired Deafblindness; Working with Families and Accessible Resources and Low Cost Technology.

The seminar concluded with presentations from Grupo Brasil’s numerous partners highlighting the success stories of the Grupo Brasil network. These included:

• Two presentations from São Bernardo do Campo – one about specialized educational services offered during home visits for students unable attend school due to health conditions; the other a collaborative team presentation outlining how the entire school (specialized teacher, education coordinator and school director) worked closely with the family to offer full inclusion to students with disabilities.

• Presentation by the School for the Blind in the city Angra dos Reis (Rio de Janeiro State) about Social, Educational, and Family Inclusion in that city.

• Presentation about the Acquired Deafblindness Program offered in the Institute Benjamim Constant8, Rio de Janeiro.

• Report about Ahimsa’s (Educational Association for Multiple Disabilities)9 experience with its Family Partnership Program.

• Presentation from the Daniella Forchetti Dance Group10 about Social and Cultural Inclusion.

• Presentation of Denise Villas Boas’ Doctoral Research titled: “The quality of interactions with children with deafblindness and multiple sensory disabilities”

• Presentation about the training Courses (online) in the areas of deafblindness and multiple sensory disabilities organized by Dr. Susana Aráoz at the University CEULJI/ULBRA11 (Rondônia).

• A presentation by a professional from the Helen Keller Bilingual School for the Deaf12, São Paulo about History Studies undertaken by a student with deafblindness with the support of an educational guide-interpreter13.


In conclusion, the experience from this seminar motivated new discussions and proposals for new projects and partnerships to foster the inclusion of people with deafblindness and multiple sensory disabilities in Brazil. The hope was that this experience would enhance further involvement by the Universities to carry out more research and studies to support the actions carried out by Grupo Brasil. As an outcome of this seminar, we are planning future events in partnership with more universities in 2015.
Planned events for 2015

• The IIIº Virtual Latin American Forum is being organized with the Federal University of Alagoas14 (Maceió, Alagoas State), April 28 to May 3, 2015 in honor of the late Michael Collins15. Note: anyone interested in sharing information with us at the forum please contact vula2004@hotmail.com.


• The IVº International Seminar will be held July 28-31, 2015 in partnership with the Federal University of Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul16. The theme will be focused around Guide-Interpreters, Intervenors and Assistive Technology.

• The VIº International Forum, will be organized in partnership with University of São Paulo – USP, November (dates to be determined), 2015. The theme will be: ‘Holding Hands in Health, Education and Rights of the People with Deafblindness and Multiple Sensory Disabilities’. The IXº National Meeting on Deafblindness and Multiple Sensory Disabilities will be held along with this Forum.


Shirley Maia, Grupo Brasil (www.grupobrasil.org.br)

For more information, contact (vula2004@hotmail.com)


1 www.grupobrasil.org.br. Grupo Brasil is a small corporate member of DbI.
2 www.usp.br
3 www.fapesp.br/en
4 www.uvm.edu
5 http://www.eapn.pt/bridgesforinclusion
6 www.perkins.org/international
7 http://.ufscar
8 www.ibc.gov.br
9 Ahimsa is a compnent of Grupo Brasil
10 daniellaforchetti.blogspot.com
11 www.ulbrajp.edu.br
12 http://surdohk.blogspot.ca
13 Teachers for the deaf who have taken the guide-interpreter course for acquired deafblindness.
14 www.ufal.edu.br
15 The late Michael Collins, a former President of DbI, was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field. See article in this edition of DbI Review.
16 www.ufsm.br

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