During the first week of September, our library team at the main campus prepared Sign language classes for elementary students. Good communication can help break down barriers—learning a new language allows us to learn about other cultures, countries and, in this case, an entire group of people.
One of our library assistants, Elizabete Oliveira, is Deaf and is fluent in both LIBRAS (Lingua Brasileira de Sinais or Brazilian Sign Language) and American Sign Language. She is outgoing, friendly and enjoys communicating with everyone. Students often ask our librarians to teach them gestures and signs to help them communicate with Elizabete. It was their curiosity that sparked the idea of having Sign language classes.
Students began by reading the book “An Inspiring Life,” by Helen Keller. The story is about the author, Helen, who, at the age of two lost both her hearing and eyesight. The book recounts the struggles and difficulties of her daily life. Helen has a brilliant future, becoming a university graduate and an inspiration to many. After reading the book, students learned the alphabet in Sign language and some basic signs such as “please,” “thank you” and “good morning,” among others.
Assistant Librarian, Tatiany Carvalho says, “It’s clear how the project benefits the kids. They put themselves in Elizabete’s shoes and learn to appreciate differences. They also learn a new language and discover how they can communicate with Elizabete and other Deaf people at school.”