AU Students Prepare for Fulbright-Hays Group Trip to Brazil

Ashland University Students Prepare for Fulbright-Hays Group Trip to Brazil

4/11/16 ASHLAND, Ohio – The 16 participants of the Ashland University Fulbright-Hays Group Project are preparing for their trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in July. The trip was made possible when Ashland University was awarded funding for the Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad (GPA) grant, titled “Accessing Carioca Culture through the Lens of Disability.”

The award, in the value of $67,575, will allow the group of eight pre-service education students and eight full-time K-12 teachers in the humanities and social sciences around the state of Ohio to join AU’s Schar College of Education Associate Professors Dr. Carla Abreu-Ellis and Dr. Jason Ellis for the trip to Rio de Janeiro.

The group of 16, who were selected for the trip after submitting an essay and going through an interview process, attended a pre-orientation meeting delivered by Director of Global Education Rebecca Parillo and Study Abroad and Short-Term Missions Coordinator Melany Bagnola.

Abreu-Ellis and Ellis, who received the award from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of International and Foreign Language Education, have finalized the schedule of abroad activities and released the agenda that includes 20 seminars and 11 field research activities.

Some highlights of the seminars include:

“A Escola de Gente: Communication and Inclusion,” with speaker Claudia Werneck, the founder of the non-profit organization “A Escola de Gente,” which advocates for an inclusive society. One of their main initiatives is ensuring that theaters and the arts are accessibility to all individuals.

“Accessibility and Architectural Barriers and Inclusion in Brazilian Tourism: The Importance of Accessibility for the Image of Rio de Janeiro” presented by Dr. Regina Cohen, associate researcher, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). She is an expert in the areas of architecture and urbanism, and her research is in the areas of accessibility, inclusion, museums, urban spaces, schools, higher education and disability.

“ADAPTSURF: A program that provides surf instruction using adaptive equipment for individuals with disabilities” led by Dr. Luis Phelipe Nobre. This non-profit association promotes the social inclusion of people with disabilities or reduced mobility, ensuring equal opportunities and access to leisure, sport and culture, through direct contact with nature. They offer free surfing classes throughout the year at the beach where students are guided by an expert team, which ensures safe and responsible learning, improving comprehensively the physical, emotional and social development of the participants.

“Power Soccer: Brazil’s National Sport from Wheelchair User’s Perspectives” presented by a representative for the Institute “Novo Ser.” The mission of this organization is to promote access and inclusion of individuals with disabilities. The Power Soccer team “Novo Ser,” is one of five Power Soccer Clubs in Brazil and they will do an exhibition game for the participants of the Fulbright-Hays Group Project.

“Praia Para Todos: A program to provide beach access for all individuals” with speaker Ricardo Gonzalez Rocha Souza, the founder of Praia Para Todos (Beach for All). This initiative advocates for accessible infrastructure at the beach to allow individuals with disabilities to experience the beaches in the Rio de Janeiro.

“Human Rights and Accessibility in Rio de Janeiro and How inclusion works in Brazilian schools” presented by Teresa Costa d’Amaral from the Brazilian Institute for the Rights of Individuals with Disabilities (IBDD).

“A Curriculum of Inclusion: An Introduction to Brazilian Sign Language and its Mandatory Place in K-12 Education in Brazil” presented by Sandra Xavier. Participants of the Fulbright-Hays Group Project will learn the basic signs of “Libras” (Brazilian Sign Language).

“The Role of Disability in the Media” will be presented by Dr. Marina Dias de Faria, assistant professor at UNIRIO. She holds a doctoral degree in administration and has extensive research in the area of disability, media, and individuals with disabilities as consumers.

“Teaching the Blind in Rio de Janeiro: Discussing Access to the General Curriculum” presented by Dr. Joao Ricardo Melo Figueiredo, director of Benjamin Constant Institute for the Blind (IBC). The Imperial Institute of the Blind Boys was established by Emperor Pedro II (1840-1889) by Imperial Decree No. 1,428, of September 12, 1854. The Benjamin Constant Institute is a traditional educational institution for individuals with a visual impairment located in the city and state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Institute is regarded as the first concrete step in the country to ensure the right to citizenship for individuals with visual impairments.

“Deaf Education” will be presented by Carlos Chaves and Darlene Souza. This presentation will take place at the National Institute of Deaf Education (INES). This institution serves about 600 students, from kindergarten through high school. The vocational training and paid internships facilitate access of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing into the labor market. The Institute also supports the teaching and research of new methodologies to be applied in teaching deaf individuals and still serves the community and students in the areas of speech therapy, psychology and social work. The current National Institute of Deaf Education was created in the mid-19th century on the initiative of the French and Deaf E. Huet, with the first denomination called National School for the Deaf and Mute, for students of both sexes.

In terms of field research activities, participants will visit various museums and tourist sites throughout the city to evaluate accessibility features. They will visit the “Sensory Garden,” within the Botanical Garden, which offers a number of plants with different textures and aromas, placed strategically to sharpen the senses, especially touch and smell. Orchids, basil feet, rosemary, sage, mint and many others can be touched and in some cases tasted by visitors. They also, have a scheduled visit to the exposition called “Dialogue in the Dark.” In this exhibit, participants will experience the city of Rio led by a guide, who is blind, in small groups through specially designed darkened rooms. Scent, sounds, wind, temperature and textures convey the characteristics of daily environments.

Dr. Ellis and Dr. Abreu-Ellis have partnered with the American School, Our Lady of Mercy School, in Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro, for this project. The school will serve as the host site for the participants and most of the events. The group of 16 teachers and pre-service students will leave the U.S. and head to the city of Rio de Janeiro on July 1, 2016. Those wanting to follow them on this journey can “like” their Facebook page at:

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2016, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.                                                                                ###