During January, and to celebrate the World Braille Day and the International Education Day, INESC TEC Commission for Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) organised two training sessions, challenging the community to learn about Braille and Portuguese Sign Language (LGP). These actions stemmed from the Commission’s awareness-raising work on diversity and inclusion.
In order to celebrate the World Braille Day (January 4), the D&I Commission invited Maria da Luz Ribeiro, Braille technician at the Association of the Blind and Weak-Sighted (ACAPO), to promote an awareness-raising session on the Braille System – which took place in the first week of January. Thanks to this initiative, the participants had the opportunity to get to know the Braille System and practice what they learned, using different materials: Braille machine, ruler, card games, bingo, Braille lines, etc.
“Activities like these, organised with so much dedication towards the World Braille Day, are important moments, so we can all become involved in the creation of a more diverse and inclusive INESC TEC. Together, we will continue to promote and benefit from of all these precious opportunities!”, said João Claro, Vice-Chairman of the Board and CEO of INESC TEC.
On the International Day of Education (January 24), the Commission promoted a workshop on Portuguese Sign Language (LGP). Sara Coelho, LGP trainer, shared her experiences as a deaf person with the participants, at personal, academic, and professional levels. During the session, the participants were briefly introduced to the basic rules of LGP, before learning the alphabet and numbers, as well as some everyday expressions, e.g., “Good morning”, “Thank you” and “Please”.
“The LGP training was very rewarding; it was useful to learn more about the alphabet, greetings and other forms of communication. The exchange of personal experiences with the trainer made the session even more engaging”, said Mafalda Reis Figueira, researcher at INESC TEC. Ana Filipa Sequeira also highlighted the relevance of the initiative. “Above all, it has provided us with a useful tool, which will help us be more inclusive in our daily lives”, she said.
Filipa Martins, member of the Management Control Service, emphasised the learning of communication strategies to interact with deaf people. Tânia Leandro and Mariana Gomes, also from said Service, shared their colleague’s opinion: “it was an excellent opportunity to explore a different world, and to know how to deal with those who, for one reason or another, live a different reality from ours”. Ana Maria Rodrigues, researcher at INESC TEC, added that it was “a moment of genuine Diversity and Inclusion; thanks to the trainer Sara Coelho, the audience committed themselves to LGP”.
Creation of opportunities to raise awareness among the INESC TEC community
Concerning the involvement of the INESC TEC community in these initiatives, the members of the Commission (composed of Beatriz Oliveira, Ana Lopes, Tiago Gonçalves, Tiago Silva and Rita Costa) highlighted not only the growing interest in these events, but also the importance of continuing to promote similar actions focused on diversity and inclusion – also mentioning that new initiatives will take place soon.
“These initiatives by the Commission for Diversity and Inclusion were excellent opportunities to raise the awareness of the INESC TEC community about the difficulties that blind and deaf people face in their daily lives, to communicate with each other and with others; but also to present the amazing forms of expression developed to support them in this task, constituting important milestones in their process of inclusion in society, family matters, education and employment”, explained Graça Barbosa, member of the Board of Directors.