Our Preparatory School in Ubajara

Image of Wili using the Braille machine in Ubajara
Wili using the Braille machine in Ubajara

Since January 2015, the residential program in Ubajara has offered education and training for blind students from the region. Though the school is still rather small, it offers space for up to six students and two volunteers. The school is located in a rural environment where it is very well-rooted in the community, which supports the project in many ways. Different from a regular classroom, the Bats in Action prep school offers many hands-on learning opportunities. Blind children and teenagers discover the world around them and experience the contact with nature. Through games and leisure time activities, they are encouraged to move around in order to lose their fear of independent movement.

During the daily routine, students get used to taking care of themselves and performing tasks in the house, such as cleaning and preparing food. Visits and small excursions are part of the program to enhance independence, social interaction and self confidence.

Image of Davi (7) learning how to wash his dishes
Davi (7) learning how to wash his dishes

During classes, students learn Braille, get familiar with the computer using screen reading software and work on school content, especially Portuguese, math and English. All students at a school-going age are enrolled in a regular school, or in the community or their hometown. Bats in Action supports the teachers and helps with preparation of learning material.

The main target group of the preparatory school is children and teenagers, but there is also space for young adults, especially during weekend workshops.

There are three ways to participate in the preparatory school:

  1. Full-time. Students coming from distant localities have the possibility to spend the week in the project and go home on weekends. This offers a more intensive learning experience due to the regular contact with other blind people. These students are enrolled in a regular school of the rural community or the town of Ubajara.
  2. Part-time. Students who live in Ubajara or nearby communities can spend the day in the project and go home in the afternoon. We recommend daily participation in order to ensure an effective learning and the participation in all activities which enhance their independence. These students have the choice to attend regular school in the community or in their hometown.
  3. Visitor. Students who, for some reason, cannot participate in the project on a regular base can come for visits. We encourage parents with blind children to visit the project regularly in order for them to understand the need for education and independence. For young adults, we offer weekend workshops to support their rehabilitation.
Image of the house in Ubajara
Our house in Ubajara

When entering the preparatory school, we make a plan with each student establishing objectives and an approximate duration of stay, as well as explaining rights and responsibilities. Students not only learn during classes and other activities, but they also bring along skills and knowledge which they can share with their peers.

Currently, three students stay with us and go home twice a month. About 10 more from the nearby communities are slowly approaching us with the desire to participate regularly in classes.

Our Classroom in Sobral

Image of mobility class in Sobral with using white canes
Mobility class in Sobral

Our classroom in Sobral is open to blind students, especially those enrolled in public schools. The local government of Sobral took ownership of the project providing space in a centrally located school building in Sobral and transportation for students enrolled in public schools. A part-time teacher is responsible for classes who is paid by the local government and receives regular support from Bats in Action.

The classroom is a meeting point for blind student and offers space for learning and social interaction. Currently, about 10 students between 3 and 37 years of age participate in classes. The classroom is also open for students from other localities, as long as transportation can be ensured. It is an entry point for students who are then encouraged to take part in activities of the preparatory school.

Students attend classes in the mornings, once or several times per week, in addition to their studies in regular schools.

The classes consist of:

  • Braille
  • Basic computer skills
  • Support with school material, especially Portuguese and math
  • Art and games
  • Orientation and mobility with occasional excursions

Though Bats in Action is active mainly in Ubajara, we try to give maximum support to the Braille classroom organizing excursions and meetings from time to time in order to encourage independence of students in Sobral.

We are happy to count on a partnership with a local sports project for people with disabilities which offers swimming and other physical exercises for our students.

Image of Adriana's Braille class in Sobral
Adriana’s Braille class in Sobral