A grassroots project initiated by Anja Pfaffenzeller
The Bats in Action Preparatory School is a jumping board for blind children and youth. They receive intensive training in blindness skills and develop the self confidence they need to take life in their own hands. After the training, blind children are able to include themselves in regular schools, adults have the ability to follow their dreams, making their own personal and carreer choices.
The residential programme is located in a rural setting, which offers the rare opportunity to learn how to survive without the infrastructure available in big cities. Walking on sandy pathes, climbing on trees and helping with tasks in agriculture are some of the contents, in addition to the regular curriculum which includes Braille and computer literacy, communication in Portuguese and English, independent movement and daily activities.
Our main objective is to provoke a mindset change in blind people and the general public: we want to see a society where blindness is not longer a disease or disgrace, but a simple characteristic which its advantages and disadvantages.
Ubajara - Ceará, Brasil
All Age Groups
Disability - Visually Impaired
I am thankful to my parents that they never limited me because of my blindness, but they always challenged me to become more independent. Therefore it was normal for me to live and travel on my own. On one of my journeys I met several blind people telling me that it was not possible for me to go out alone because I am blind. Of course I did not listen to them, but at the same time I was very upset of how blind people accept apparent limitations. This moment I decided that I wanted to fight against limiting attitudes both in blind people and the society, but I did not know what to do.
All over the world, I meet blind and sighted people who tell me what I can and what I cannot do. They think that blindness is the worse condition, so they react with pity and over-protection. But mainly during my stays in Brazil I came across blind people who are completely excluded from life due to negative attitudes. Every time I hear something like "Oh my God! Who takes care of you? You shouldn't go out by yourself!", I understand that the task is not done yet. We still have a long way to go to convince blind people and our surroundings that we are only blind, but not disabled.
As attitudes and concepts are formed early in life, we try to approach blind children in order to show them that they can life a happy childhood, study, play and discover the world around them. This way, we prepare blind children for an active life and show their families that it is not necessary to over-protect or hide their blind kids in order to take good care of them. Adults get a chance to review their concepts on blindness. They meet other like-minded people, learn new skills and find out that they can have an active life.
By offering a new perspective to blind people, we also change the mindset of the public, especially family members, teachers, neighburs, etc. In the past, it was impossible to see a bunch of white canes on the streets or a blind person traveling by himself, now, people are getting used to meeting our students in the supermarket, the bank or the bus.
Number of direct beneficiaries: 30 ___
Number of indirect beneficiaries: 100, these are Family members, teachers and friends of our students, not including the general public reached through the media or other awareness raising activities.
In the Preparatory School in Ubajara, we provide training in Braille, the use of the computer with assistive technology, communication in Portuguese and English and mainly mobility and daily living skills for an independent life.
Identification of potential beneficiaries and support of families through home visits are an important component of the project, but depend on time and material ressources.
For students enrolled in regular school, we try our best to adapt material in Braille or get in touch with publishers for digital versions of textbooks.
For the near future, we plan vocational training for young adults in order to develop income generating activities without depending on family support or the government benefits.
The Bats in Action Preparatory School is a jumping board for blind children and youth. They receive intensive training in blindness skills and develop the self confidence they need to take life in their own hands.