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Revista Brasileira de Educação Especial

versão impressa ISSN 1413-6538versão On-line ISSN 1980-5470

Rev. bras. educ. espec. vol.26 no.1 Bauru jan./mar. 2020  Epub 21-Fev-2020 

Research Report

Professors’ Perception of the Entry of a Deaf Student Into a University Campus2

Jane de Carlos Santana CAPELLI3

Felipe Di BLASI4

Flávia Barbosa da Silva DUTRA5

3PhD in Sciences. Associate Professor in the Nutrition Course at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)/UFRJ-Macaé, Campus Professor Aloisio Teixeira. Postdoctoral student of the Deaf Project - UFRJ/Institute of Medical Biochemistry Leopoldo de Meis/Health Sciences Center/UFRJ, Rio de Janeiro/ Rio de Janeiro/Brazil. Email:

4PhD Student at the Leopoldo de Meis Institute of Medical Biochemistry. Health Science Center - UFRJ, Rio de Janeiro/ Rio de Janeiro/Brazil. Email:

5Adjunct Professor at the Department of Inclusive and Continuing Education - Faculty of Education. Rio de Janeiro State University - UERJ. Rio de Janeiro/ Rio de Janeiro/Brazil. Email:


This study aims to know the perception of professors about the movement caused at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro - UFRJ - Macaé Campus with the entry of the first profoundly deaf student in the Medical Course, as well as to identify the demands generated for the course for his access and permanence. For that, a field research was carried out, of qualitative nature and ethnographic approach, having as an instrument the semi-structured interview. The data were analyzed through the semantic categorization method, according to Bardin’s content analysis. Ten professors who accompanied the student were interviewed in the first semester of 2018. From the analysis of the discourses, it was possible to separate them into six main themes: “Legislation and accessibility”, “Teacher training”, “Language barrier”, “Pedagogical changes”, “Feelings and emotions” and “Student schooling”. It was concluded that the professors perceive themselves as part of the institution and were not prepared to receive the deaf student, determining the emergence of different feelings and emotions, such as anxieties, fears and challenges. The professors sought strategies to adapt their classes and assessments, but they observed important learning difficulties of the student. The UFRJ needs to be prepared to welcome deaf students and invest great efforts to ensure an inclusive education for all students with disabilities.

KEYWORDS: Special Education; Education for the deaf; Higher Education


Este estudo objetiva conhecer a percepção de docentes sobre o movimento causado no Campus da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro - UFRJ-Macaé com a entrada do primeiro estudante surdo profundo no curso de Medicina, bem como identificar as demandas geradas ao curso para seu acesso e sua permanência. Para tanto, realizou-se uma pesquisa de campo, de cunho qualitativo, de abordagem etnográfica, tendo como instrumento a entrevista semiestruturada. Os dados foram analisados pelo método de categorização semântico, segundo análise de conteúdo de Bardin. Foram entrevistados 10 professores que acompanharam o estudante no primeiro semestre de 2018. A partir das análises dos discursos, foi possível separá-los em seis grandes temas predominantes: “Legislação e acessibilidade”, “Formação docente”, “Barreira linguística”, “Mudanças pedagógicas”, “Sentimentos e emoções” e “Escolarização discente”. Concluiu-se que os docentes se percebem como parte da instituição e não foram preparados para receber o estudante surdo, determinando o aparecimento de diferentes sentimentos e emoções, como angústias, medos e desafios. Os professores buscaram estratégias para adaptar as suas aulas e avaliações, porém observaram importantes dificuldades de aprendizado do estudante. A UFRJ precisa preparar-se para receber estudantes surdos além de investir em grandes esforços para que seja garantida uma educação inclusiva para todos os estudantes com deficiência.

PALAVRAS-CHAVE: Educação Especial; Educação dos surdos; Educação Superior

1 Introduction

The UFRJ-Macaé Campus Professor Aloísio Teixeira (UFRJ-Macaé Campus) is an expansion campus of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil, and is part of the national actions for the internalization of Higher Education (Lourenço et al., 2017). The Campus is an integrated, non-departmental structure with a partnership with the Macaé City Hall (Campus Macaé-UFRJ, 2018).

Established in 2006, the UFRJ-Macaé Campus has been offering places for undergraduate (Teaching degree and Bachelor degree) and graduate (Master’s) programs in different areas such as Health, Biological Sciences, Education and Exact Sciences. The implementation of three health courses took place in 2009, including the Medical School, which over the years has been a reference in the North Fluminense region (Campus Macaé-UFRJ, 2018).

After nine years of implementation, the Medical School, in the first semester of 2018, received, by law for the reservation of seats for people with disabilities (Law no. 13.409, of December 28, 2016), three students with disabilities; among them, a profound non-oral deaf person who communicates through the Brazilian Sign Language (known as Libras), and a person with moderate (oralized) hearing impairment.

It is worth mentioning the Law no. 13.40 /2016, known as the Quota Law, which provides for the reservation of seats for people with disabilities in the middle and higher technical courses of federal educational institutions; regulated by Decree no. 9.034, of April 20, 2017, which provides for the modalities of such admission. Thus, in compliance with Law no. 13.409/2016, in the second half of 2017, UFRJ started to offer seats for people with disabilities in all its campuses.

The insufficient number of translators and interpreters of Brazilian Sign Language at the UFRJ-Macaé Campus, the unprecedentedness of a deaf medical student, and the urgent need to meet the new demand, led to the beginning of important movements and discussions between the course of Medicine and other instances of the Campus and UFRJ-Fundão on education for the deaf in Higher Education, as well as enabling strategies to ensure his effective inclusion, and of all students with disabilities entering the teaching-learning process with the aim of opening new fronts for future newcomers with disabilities.

Due to the pioneering and complexity required by the teaching and learning processes of the deaf student, this study aims to know the professors’ perceptions about the movement caused by the entry of the first deaf student into the Medical School - UFRJ-Macaé Campus, as well as to identify the demands generated to the course for his access and permanence. From this perspective, we understand that its realization offers important data to both the UFRJ-Macaé Campus and the other UFRJ campuses, in order to enable the fulfillment of their educational duty in the function of Federal Higher Education Institution, in addition to legal compliance. In fact, the case study enters the hall of specific individual care and displacements necessary to improve an institutionalized national view, given the enforceability of the law and provides the opportunity for debate with other institutional realities.

2 Methodological path

We conducted a field research, through a qualitative and ethnographic approach (Alaoui, 2002) in which, as an instrument, we opted for the semi-structured interview (Bauer & Gaskell, 2002) to allow a wide space of questions raised from new hypotheses that arise from the answers provided by the interviewees (Nogueira-Martins & Bógus, 2004). From this perspective, it was possible to have greater freedom to discuss the central issue of the research and, consequently, to be a participatory agent in the construction of the studied content (Minayo, Assis, & Souza, 2005).

The research attends to the changes that occurred in the UFRJ-Macaé Campus, due to the entrance of the first profound deaf student in the Medical Course. By the way, this 25-year-old student entered through the reservation of seats for people with disabilities in the first half of 2018 in a class of 30 students, 28 of whom were hearing students, one with moderate (oralized) bilateral hearing impairment, besides the deaf student.

In this study, we understand deafness as “experiences and visual interrelations” (Cruz & Dias, 2009, p. 66) and we based on Decree no. 5.626, of December 22, 2005, in its article 2, to define the deaf person as the one who “understands and interacts with the world through visual experiences, manifesting his/her culture mainly through the use of the Brazilian Sign Language - Libras”.

Data collection took place in October 2018, at the UFRJ-Macaé Campus, and had as study subjects professors from the first period of the Medical Course, here named as M1, and members of the UFRJ-Macaé Accessible and Inclusive Permanent Commission (Comissão Permanente UFRJ-Macaé Acessível e Inclusiva - CPAI). At first, an informal telephone or in-person contact was made to explain the research objectives and to invite professors and members to participate in the interview, and then a formal email contact. The professors who responded to the email confirming date, time and place participated in the study. From the acceptance of the professors and members of CPAI, who signed and delivered the Informed Consent Form (ICF) to the researcher, the interviews began. Each interview was held at the institution in a room reserved for the study, to ensure the privacy of the interviewee. In the room, only the researcher and the interviewee were present.

There were three professors who did not respond to the e-mails sent, representing 23.1% of the total professors who accompanied the student during the study period. At the beginning of the interview, the researcher explained about the research proposal. Each respondent was informed that all statements given were confidential, and that during the interview they could give up from participating and withdraw the consent (ICF).

The interview began with the following question: I would like you to talk about your life during the first semester of 2018, at Campus UFRJ-Macaé, about what you considered most important with the entry of the deaf student in the Medical School. The researcher asked other questions motivated by the reports to clarify doubts or deepen certain points reported. Interviews lasted an average of 30 minutes, and the researcher sought to finish them when the whole subject was considered fully explored (Thompson, 1981). All respondents could hear the recording of their statements, if they wished, and during the interviews, if there was a need to reformulate any statement, the interviewee had only to ask (Arendt, 2007). The interviews were digitally recorded and textually transcribed in their entirety, in order to preserve the register of speeches, verbal and nonverbal codes, such as voice intonations, interjections, forgetfulness and silence of participants (Arendt, 2007).

The interest of the research was based on the subjects’ view of movement caused by the student during the first semester of 2018; therefore, no other source of information was used, such as socioeconomic or demographic data. However, Higher Education, the title of the professor and the discipline he/she taught at M1, or being a member of CPAI, were raised to understand the reports of the study subjects.

A content analysis of Bardin (2016) was applied by the semantic categorization method. Initially, each interview was individually analyzed to separate the predominant themes, which represented the different subjects discussed by the interviewees. Then the speeches were categorized by similar themes because of their common characteristics. A codename was used for each respondent to protect the identity of the study subjects (Glat, 2009). Care was also taken to preserve the names of the translators and interpreters, replacing it with (translator/ interpreter); professors’ names, replacing each name with (XXX); student’s name, replaced by (EEE); and the names of classes or disciplines by (YYY).

The study was approved by the Research Ethics Committee of the Clementino Fraga Filho University Hospital (HUCFF) of the proposing institution (UFRJ), under CAAE No. 92341318.6.0000.5257.

Ten (n = 10) professors who were close to the deaf student in the first semester of 2018 participated in the research, representing 76.9% of the total. Regarding the characterization of the study subjects, five are members of CPAI, four are professors at the M1, and one professor who is both a professor at the M1 and a member of CPAI, being disposed in M1. Of the professors interviewed, six are from the health area, according to the division of knowledge areas of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), three from the area of Biological Sciences and one from Physics; and all professors have a doctorate.

After analyzing the interviews, we identified seven predominant themes: “Legislation and Accessibility”, “Teacher Training”, “Language Barrier”, “Pedagogical Changes”, “Feelings and Emotions”, “Student Schooling”. The theme “Institutional Infrastructure” was observed, but transversally in all the speeches, that is, it permeated the other themes. Therefore, we chose not to put it as the predominant theme, but to discuss it in all themes.

3 Results and discussion

In this section, we cover each of the topics identified in the interviews mentioned earlier.

3.1 Higher education legislation and accessibility: Affirmative actions and UFRJ educational policies for people with disabilities

We were able to observe how the interviewed professors recognize the importance of affirmative actions aimed at reserving seats for people with disabilities (PwD) in Higher Education, and how professors observe their preparation to receive these students in compliance with Law no. 13.409/2016 and Decree no. 9.034/2017. In terms of praxis, we detracted from the oral observations and expectations about conviviality and academic trajectory. Once again, the imminent demand conceptually questions the inclusion and accessibility that once appeared diluted in quantitative and statistical approaches without much representation. Thus, we are led to a more detailed observation about the gradual increase in the participation of people with disabilities in society, as presented in the following speech.

As a professor, I find it interesting, very interesting, very valid, the quota process for people with disabilities in Higher Education. Because these people are historically excluded, and this diversity that their entrance causes into the university is very rich! It is very rich for our pedagogical practice. It is very rich for student education! (P10).

However, we find a paradox in the opinions of professors, in which the positive and negative aspects regarding the entry of people with disabilities and the Quota Law are highlighted:

I also understand a lot of welfare, because a law was created, in this sense. A quota law of inserting people with disabilities, inserting the deaf person, the deaf individual, but without any preparation of the people who would actually be involved in the University, the University structure, there was no preparation! (P9).

According to Dechichi, Silva and Gomide (2008, p. 338), the entry of students with different types of disabilities in public universities presents “an emergency need that the educational aspects related to the academic care process [...] are brought to the debate, offering minimum conditions of access and permanence of this population [...]”.

Brazil, in the field of public policies aimed at deaf education, beginning in Basic Education, since the 19th century, has been going through inconsistencies regarding educational conceptions for the organization of education (Lopes, 2017). In Higher Education, this discussion began to gain strength in the 21st century, as there is the understanding that education should emancipate and empower all people. Emergency measures, known as Affirmative Action Policies, in which quota modality is included, have been established to minimize the gap in the field of inclusive education (Castro & Amara, 2018).

At UFRJ, the discussion on inclusion and accessibility of people with disabilities has been happening via interdisciplinary actions through the mobilization of groups of people interested in the theme, with the formation of the Interdisciplinary Accessibility Center in 2007, which was incorporated in 2010 to the Division of Social Inclusion, Accessibility and Community Affairs.

In the mid-2010’s, Law no. 12.711, of August 29, 2012, was amended by Law no. 13.409/2016, which provides for the reservation of seats for people with disabilities in the middle and higher technical courses of federal institutions of education, in its articles 3, 5 and 7, and defined a 10-year period for federal universities to review the “special program” proposed for the admission of people with disabilities into Higher Education.

In compliance with the Law, in September 2016, UFRJ created the UFRJ Permanent Accessible and Inclusive Forum (called F-PAI), according to the legal prerogatives that underlie the education of people with disabilities, global developmental disorders and high skills/giftedness. At the same time, at the UFRJ-Macaé Campus, the UFRJ-Macaé Accessible and Inclusive Permanent Commission (CPAI), an advisory body linked to the UFRJ-Macaé Campus Board, was created to map all students with disabilities, survey the needs of PwD and identify how the Campus is doing with regard to accessibility and inclusion. The Commission, in April 2018, became permanent and became known as the UFRJ-Macaé Accessible and Inclusive Permanent Commission.

In 2018, in its two years of existence, the F-PAI, characterized as an advisory body, presented the need for the creation of a forum to deliberate and execute the demands aimed at promoting accessibility for people with disabilities. Thus, the Accessibility Directorate (called DIRAC) was created with the proposal to elaborate and implement the UFRJ Accessibility Policy. DIRAC is recognized as an executive body, linked to the Dean’s Office.

The distanced look on the professors’ speeches allowed us to read about the obvious discrepancies between the annual admission routines and this account, which occurred due to affirmative actions. The M1 category professors pointed out that the UFRJ should have been more careful regarding the student’s entry into the Medical Course. This argument is justified by its historical competition in being a profession of high symbolic capital. In fact, a very disputed course with high cutoff grades.

[...] because he is a student, he is deaf, and joined the course where we have the highest cutoff, which is the Medical Course. That is no longer an easy course even for students who have no specific needs. And to (EEE), so I think it got, it gets, a little more difficult [...]. (P3). So, his ENEM6 grade, which was the entrance exam for medicine, was far below the other students’. (P8).

This is an important point to be emphasized, since the entry of students with disabilities into the university does not guarantee their permanence in the educational institution (André & Ribeiro, 2018), as it will depend on numerous factors that guarantee they do not dropout; among them, the previous schooling process. This can generate conflicts, anxieties, among others, both for students and teachers of the educational institution, since everyone has a role to play within the institution, that is, they have rights and duties, as we can observe in the following lines:

[...] this considering the whole issue of inclusion that does not even need the law [...]. It is everyone’s right to have access to education, and we were not prepared. [...] the situation was already there and we were trying to go after everything that should have been thought a long time ago [...]. When this inclusion legislation was put into practice [...] a law comes, a university resolution comes [...], he is a student, like all other students, with his rights and duties as well. This is important, I think one thing we wanted, that the Commission and the professors did a lot, is that he is a student just like every other student, must meet the requirements of UFRJ [...]. (P4).

I am making a critique of the process, I am making a critique, as an institution too, because, you know [...] we are the UFRJ! And in this process of inserting [...], I think there was a failure, not really knowing who this student was, what his real needs were ... [...]. (P10).

Therefore, we highlight a central point in the education of the deaf that concerns the schooling process and the academic, linguistic, cultural and other specificities of each student. Studies in the field of deaf education point out the barriers that exist in their school trajectory, preventing, in most cases, that the student makes good use of this process (Guarinello, Berberian, Santana, Massi, & Paula, 2006; Moura, Leite, & Martins, 2017; Ribeiro & Silva, 2017), which may reflect negatively upon their entry into Higher Education. For this, it is necessary that Higher Education institutions create pedagogical strategies, such as leveling courses, so that they can actually welcome and include deaf students with equity.

Another aspect to be considered refers to the invisibility of these students, constituting an important challenge to be overcome. We can assume that as professors we are not prepared to deal with people with disabilities yet, and most institutions are not prepared to educate people who do not fit their “academic standards” (André & Ribeiro, 2018, p. 69). Unfortunately, the Brazilian university presents a trajectory of social exclusion, observing, only in the last twenty years, a proposal of pedagogical political change (André & Ribeiro, 2018).

It is noteworthy that the inclusion in Higher Education goes through decisions that are not only in the design of public universities, which are not, therefore, protagonists in this process. Federal educational institutions must present their difficulties and limitations to the Federal Government, as well as point out referrals that must be taken to ensure access, entry and permanence of these students (Duarte, Rafael, Filgueiras, Neves, & Ferreira, 2013).

The reinforcement of current educational public policies, within this scope, has been observed, regarding the importance of public universities to organize themselves, especially regarding structural issues, so that the teaching-learning process is more accessible and inclusive, thus providing favorable environments for students with disabilities, including the deaf, in order to complete their course (Law no. 13.146, of July 6, 2015).

Alzate (2018) points out that the university’s educational function has to go beyond the scope of student accessibility policies or “implement the student approach” (p. 91). Thus, we need to put in the discussion agenda the aspects that maintain inclusion and discrimination in the social field, “how the imaginary and the expectations regarding learning are and also to avoid that the problem takes different shades” (Alzate, 2018, p. 91) within educational institutions, determining student discrimination and stigmatization. The author proposes that training spaces are created so that the entire social body of the institution learns and lives with the observed particularities of each individual.

In this sense, it is important to highlight that education to be inclusive must go beyond the proposal of offering teaching in shared spaces, common to different student profiles. Significant changes need to be promoted that address a number of factors, such as teacher education, understanding and awareness of the different types of disabilities and individual needs of each student (Leite & Martins, 2012; Moura et al., 2017). To this end, according to Dorziat (1998), teachers should be aware of and use Brazilian Sign Language, even though they have no guarantee that this language is sufficient for the communication and learning of the deaf student. Also because it is not possible to speak and signal at the same time, and therefore, in inclusive schools and the university, the professor’s knowledge of Brazilian Sign Language is not intended for teaching, but only for communication.

This perception is observed in the speech of one of the professors, demonstrating sensitivity and understanding of Brazilian Sign Language, as described below:

[...] the other day I was here in the corridor, here at the University [...] I saw, I was in the corridor, (EEE) started to go down the stairs of the floor that I was at. And then I said hello to him [...], he stopped going down the stairs, he was holding [...] some folders, some papers in his hand. [...] he stopped going down the stairs, took the folders, put them between his legs, held the folders with his knees to talk to me, because he needed his hands to talk to me. [...] these are some things that really move us. Because they are small, they are simple things [...] and that, in everyday life, we sometimes do not realize. And, in a moment, you have that vision, that clarity of what happens, and I think it is making us more and more aware [...]. (P3).

In the professor’s statements, especially the professors of M1, who gave classes directly to the student, it was clear the movement made to adapt and teach the content given in the classes. We observed greater concern with the student, how he feels and his difficulties, in the statements of the members of the Accessible and Inclusive Permanent Commission, which is fully expected because it is an instance in the UFRJ-Macaé Campus focused on welcoming and supporting PwD.

[...] he has a demand that needs to be met and that when we talk about social inclusion, he is immersed, we are responsible for his immersion in this, and the university has a fundamental role, especially if we are supposed to educate people. [...] he was the first person who came in with a disability [...], I confess that I said [...] Guys, now what? What are we going to do? How can we help? How are we going to do it? (P5).

[...] I think that the student, who has any kind of disability, not just deafness, needs to be treated and looked upon as a human being with the same rights. (P1).

Institutionally, we observe the need to be attended to many aspects, such as: attitudinal, infrastructure, human resources, teacher education and training, adaptations of classes and assessments, among others, that make it possible for all students with disabilities, whether or not entering the Quota Law, to have proper and quality education, avoiding attrition and school dropout.

[...] we had no translators, so it was an immediate demand, we weren’t even prepared to do so, [...] this generated, by the Campus Commission and Board, a very intense and initial effort to minimally guarantee the presence of the interpreter here. (P1).

[...] but we had a human resources issue. We didn’t have a tool, so it wasn’t enough for CPAI [Accessible and Inclusive Permanent Commission] to do an inclusion event, it wasn’t enough for the professor to change the methodology, the didactics in the classroom, or the class to be willing, if we didn’t have human resources to really guarantee this kind of inclusion [...]. (P4).

3.2 Teacher training: the lack of preparation of the professor related to the higher education of the deaf student and the challenge in the learning process

In this study, all participants reported not being prepared to teach the deaf student. In their statements, we found the consensus that in the process of academic formation there were no disciplines that even minimally addressed the person with disabilities, implying the lack of knowledge about the deaf universe; and already as a Higher Education professor, because no training, capacity building or update courses have been offered on the PwD or, more specifically, the hearing impaired and the deaf (term used in the deaf community as a cultural reference), as noted in the following reports:

I didn’t have the necessary education, even though I had a teaching degree, at that time there was no [...] Brazilian Sign Language. So [...] there was a delay in relation to my education, but [it is necessary] to start rethinking my education as a professor, you know? (P2).

[...] the boy appeared out of the blue to us [...] there was no training, except [...] the conversation with (TIL), who is the technician, and the lecture conducted by professor (XXX), we had nothing. [...], how were we going to do it? How would we behave? How were we going to teach? How would it be? (P7).

In the field of medical and university teaching, there are publications showing the lack in the field of education, especially in Medical Schools, in the performance of Higher Education professors. This is because, in the pedagogical field, there is no preparation during their education (Trindade & Vieira, 2009).

Thus, we understand that this gap tends to be reverberated when teaching is directed to students with disabilities, and, in the case of this research, to deaf students. According to Costa (2018), including students with disabilities at the university is conditioned to the obstacles observed in the educational system, in view of the precariousness of vocational and continuing education, as many undergraduate courses do not offer subjects that address Special Education from the perspective of inclusive education.

Moreover, in Higher Education, the professor has skills that go beyond the domain of theoretical and even technical knowledge (in the sense of exercise of the profession) that will be passed on to their students, and in this context, pedagogical training is little valued (Costa, 2007).

Unfortunately, even in the 21st century, there are students entering university who face many difficulties due to the lack of structure for their participation in Higher Education environments (Alzate, 2018; André & Ribeiro, 2018), as can be observed in the following statements:

[...] I think we [...] were not prepared for this arrival [...]. It is everyone’s right to have access to education, and we were not prepared. [...] generated demands, beyond our expectation. [...] it was not [...] just welcoming, receiving the student, the professor has to think about his/her didactics in an inclusive way (…). (P4).

[...] something that we think has to be institutionalized, [...] it has to have greater support, it has to have the institution’s support [...], sometimes, [...] I had a feeling that the professors felt a bit [...] “Ah! You received [...], but you can adapt to this new reality [...]”. (P6).

However, in Brazil, it is a rare fact that deaf people enter, especially in health, resulting in no or little teaching experience with this public. This reality is experienced by the professors of the UFRJ-Macaé Campus, as we can observe in the following statements:

[...] we were not trained, we were not used to it. Especially because [...] it is rare for a deaf student to reach the higher level. I, at least, know a few cases or very few cases, but I have never had direct contact. (P9).

[...] and we professors do not have specialized training to assist the disabled person. Mainly a deficiency of the linguistic field. [...] I never worked with deafness, I never taught a deaf person. (P10).

For the professors, contact with the deaf person began with the student’s entrance, which implied a new experience in the teaching area, as we identified in the following reports:

[...] this experience of having these people with disabilities began with this medical student. (P5).

“Oh, we’ll have a deaf student!”. And then I wondered how what it would be like [...] to teach a deaf student in my discipline. I was completely unsure about what to do. (P6).

In fact, we can observe a combination of factors that hinder academic development in the face of new demands: teacher education does not address the theme of deafness; there are attitudinal barriers created by the historical lack of participation of the deaf in Higher Education and the legal matter that, acting to guarantee specific rights, individual and collective, brings out and incisively, demands that were latent, but submerged in another social context.

3.3 Language barrier: Brazilian Sign Language and the role of its translator and interpreter

At UFRJ, undergraduate courses are offered in Portuguese, with the exception of Linguistics-Brazilian Sign Language, which has disciplines offered in Brazilian Sign Language. At Campus UFRJ-Macaé is no different, and all courses have Portuguese as their first language, with only one elective subject offered in Brazilian Sign Language by a deaf professor with the translation and interpretation of a translator and interpreter of Brazilian Sign Language.

[...] I don’t know how to talk, I don’t know Brazilian Sign Language, I don’t know anything. It is a despair. [...] how can I help the boy, the boy who is entering, who has a dream. (P7). [...] we can learn Brazilian Sign Language [...] this is even my wish there for the next few months, to learn Brazilian Sign Language [...]. (P5).

It was an excellent opportunity for UFRJ, the Faculty of Letters now offered in the first semester the Brazilian Sign Language online course, it was an online learning course, and it had a very limited number of seats [...], we enrolled in this course, we did the course and it was a very cool course! (P3).

We also note that even though there is a language barrier, the desire to teach course content and to learn Brazilian Sign Language was demonstrated by some professors who knew about the importance of Brazilian Sign Language knowledge in order to communicate with the student.

However, we note that the language barrier is one of the factors to be considered in the process of inclusion of the deaf in Higher Education, since it is not limited only to the orality of the language. We must consider that the learning and acquisition of deaf reading and writing since Elementary School is very different compared to the hearing students. According to Poker (2001), depending on the school environment in which the deaf person was inserted, the way his/her learning was stimulated as well as the symbolic exchanges, it is possible, to a greater or lesser extent, that he/she exercises and uses his/her representative capacity, favoring cognitive development. This aspect was possible to notice in the statement of the professors, as we can observe below:

I think his cognitive level is still below. [...] but I see [...] chance, possibility. I think he is capable of increasing this level of cognition, perception of the world, knowledge, interaction [...]. (P9). [...] it may have an interpreter, but what about understanding the content being conveyed at that time? Shared at that time? And it was when we started to realize that they need more time, they need everything to be adapted to them. (P5).

We understand that, in addition to the importance of the professor in reviewing their role in their pedagogical practice, it is also necessary for them to understand the universe of the deaf community and the uniqueness of each person. However, it is important to emphasize that this is a two-way route, since the deaf student must understand the academic world in which he/she has entered and how to contextualize this new reality.

The Medical Course is offered full time and, as presented, the professors do not know Brazilian Sign Language, having as an aggravating element the existence of only one effective translator and interpreter of Brazilian Sign Language to attend the entire Campus, which was already accompanying the Brazilian Sign Language teacher. Without another strategy that could guarantee the hiring of new interpreters, a translator and interpreter of Brazilian Sign Language was requested to accompany the deaf student in the disciplines as of February 2018. As a result, the translator and interpreter of Brazilian Sign Language had to divide his assignments, becoming very overloaded, and without being able to attend some classes.

[...] some classes, unfortunately, [...] could not have an interpreter at the time of class, this made the whole situation a bit unfeasible [...]. (P8).

[...] we already had a professional interpreter of Brazilian Sign Language who was accompanying our Brazilian Sign Language teacher, a translator and interpreter began to divide himself [...]. And we have made countless attempts to get more interpreters - here on campus, to be able to provide adequate support [...]. But so far, this has not worked via the University. However, we managed, through a partnership with the Macaé City Hall, two fellows who are interpreters and who are accompanying [...]. (P3).

It is noteworthy that the obligation to make translator and interpreter of Brazilian Sign Language available to deaf students by federal educational institutions was established from December 2005, with Decree no. 5.626/2005. At the UFRJ-Macaé Campus, there is only one translator and interpreter of Brazilian Sign Language, belonging to the institution’s effective staff, who accompanies a deaf professor who teaches the Brazilian Sign Language elective discipline and also accompanies the deaf student in the classroom. For this reason, at the UFRJ-Macaé Campus, from the entrance of the deaf student to the granting of scholarships to two translators and interpreters of Brazilian Sign Language by the Macaé City Deputy Secretary of Higher Education, the effective translator and interpreter of Brazilian Sign Language presented great difficulties, as he was unable to take turns in accordance with the law, for not having mastered the subject taught and for not having signs of technical terms in the Brazilian Sign Language, in the field of Health Sciences, that would allow the full interpretation of the taught content of the classes for the student. This caused the difficulty of communication and the understanding of the content taught in classes by both translators and interpreters of Brazilian Sign Language and the undergraduate student.

[...] his first language is not Portuguese, [...] I even remembered now, that also one of the first things I went to look for, when I learned that the deaf student would arrive [...] which it was the signs [...], I downloaded a Brazilian Sign Language application on the phone [...], but I saw that not even the word, I did not find it, at least the word (YYY) had no official sign [...]. “My God! What will it be like if there is no sign?” [...], he will have to see right there what it is written [...]. (P6).

This was remedied in the middle of the course, more or less, in the face of a “good posture” from the City Hall that hired the other interpreters. However, the university [...] should [...] perhaps have previously mobilized to remedy this deficiency [...] because the professors do not know Brazilian Sign Language and, even if they did, our content is too technical [...], we know that there is no lexicon in Brazilian Sign Language, yet, so that we could achieve its perfect form, make this linguistic transposition. [...] That would be a big challenge that our interpreters would have to face. How would we get some specific terms? (P8).

In this context, we highlight the performance of the translator and interpreter of Brazilian Sign Language, which goes beyond being an expert of the language, especially in Higher Education, whose complexity of each specific area of education, such as the Medical Course, for example, is far beyond a simple interpretation of common sense information. Therefore, the translator and interpreter of Brazilian Sign Language will need to previously receive the theoretical content to be taught, study, to be able to properly understand and contextualize what will be addressed by the professor. According to Lacerda (2014), the translator and interpreter of Brazilian Sign Language performs the function of intermediating the existing relations between the professor and the deaf student so that he can properly receive the taught content.

The teaching of Sign Language in Brazil was established by Decree no. 5.626/2005, and it is the duty of the educational system to include it in the curriculum of undergraduate courses. It also defined the profession of interpreter/translator, the training and certification of Brazilian Sign Language instructors and professors through undergraduate Linguistics-Brazilian Sign Language, the obligation to have an interpreter in classrooms containing deaf students, the teaching of Portuguese to the deaf and bilingual education in regular education.

However, the regulation of the profession of translators and interpreters of Brazilian Sign Language only took place in 2010, through Law no. 12.319, of September 1, 2010, enabling the organization and realization of recruiting public exam for their hiring. Nevertheless, as we can see in the following statements, this finding at Campus UFRJ-Macaé is still incipient:

[...] we had no translators [...], it was an immediate demand. We were not even prepared for it, so it generated a very intense and initial effort from the Campus Commission and Board to minimally ensure the interpreter’s presence here. (P1).

I didn’t have much contact with UFRJ’s external interpreters. But their presence is crucial. And we know what it was like to bring in, make sure this student had interpreters, since he’s deaf using sign language. But it still worries me, you know? To know if in the future, if at a future moment, we will have this guarantee [...]. (P4).

The appreciation and recognition of the performance of translators and interpreters of Brazilian Sign Language with professors in the preparation of classes, evaluations, among others, was consensual among professors, even though it is a new fact in the daily life of the Campus.

[...] and the interpreters gave a lot of feedback, especially the translator/interpreter talked to me a lot about how I could make the changes. The translator/interpreter came to talk to me: “Ah! Can I suggest some things? ”[...] we, for example, made a modification to start having the image first, then I talk about the theoretical part […]. (P7).

[...] the interpreters were exceptional, [...] and I think I would have nothing [...] to complain about them, in terms of professionalism. [...]. And this is important in relation to the evaluations [...], important for the professor to have a security, in relation to the work he is doing. (P8).

The performance of the translators and interpreters, therefore, demonstrates that the partnership of these professionals can go beyond the classroom, since their knowledge about the deaf universe may contribute to the construction of even the pedagogical master plan of undergraduate courses. Public exams for translators and interpreters is fundamental for the exchange between them and professors, based on legislation aimed at deaf education, enabling the creation and definition of teaching strategies that allow and guarantee quality learning of deaf students in Higher Education.

3.4 Pedagogical changes: teaching and assessment strategies

The process of teacher education does not include knowledge of Brazilian Sign Language, as already mentioned. However, the lack of preparation to teach the deaf student, the lack of knowledge of the deaf person’s universe; the lack or insufficient number of translator and interpreter professionals that met the institution’s demand; the lack of sufficient glossaries and Brazilian Sign Language books in undergraduate Higher Education courses, which allow the teaching of deaf students, were aspects that fostered the need for reformulation of teaching practice on the part of the professors, in order to meet the needs of deaf students in the discipline, which has always been offered in Portuguese for hearing students.

[...] but in his case it is different, because the material in Portuguese exists, the person’s language is Portuguese, the professor’s language is Portuguese, the classmate’s is Portuguese, which is not his case. [...] his language is Sign Language [...]. His first language is Sign. There is no material in Sign Language, no bibliographic material, none. [...]. It does not exist! (P9).

[...] in the lecture of Professor (XXX), because she showed us that I would have to talk and wait for the interpreter’s time [...], I pay close attention to the Interpreter, to see if he is able to cope (Laughter). [...]. And not just throw a lot of stuff out there. [...]. I reformulated a lot because I teach (YYY), it’s a lot of images. But we talk a lot, so I wrote all the names. [...] I wrote on the board. I made schemes on the board [...]. Write the terms. These are complicated terms, not simple terms, there is no glossary! There is nothing! (P7).

Wickbold and Siqueira (2018) state that:

The Medical Course, over the years, was accessible to a select group of students, due to the great competition in the entrance exam and also the conditions of permanence (high cost with didactic material, full time, etc.). Thus, it can be considered an “elite course,” a term used by students themselves and professors as a reason of pride (p. 87).

In this sense, receiving a deaf student in the Medical Course, which is a historically disputed course, very difficult and considered “elitist”, required a new posture from the professors and a (re)invention before the “new” that allowed the development of different mechanisms and search for strategies that facilitate student teaching, learning, and assessment process, such as assistive technologies and the help of translators and interpreters. In the Medical Course, finding professors willing to change this attitude and this (re)invention is something unusual, but it was observed in the professor’s statement, as reported below:

I thought at first I was going to do it, wow! I thought in the beginning I was going to glossary everything! [...] and then we came to see that it wasn’t quite like that [...]. It was difficult, there was a whole process and we [...] started slowing down [...]. (P6).

[...] and I am a person who speaks very fast, I give a lot of content, and I decreased a little, it is a second adaptation that I made, to decrease the content of my classes a little to be able to speak more slowly [...]. (P8).

[...] I did [...] the first evaluation [...], I consider it very adapted [...]. These were things that I was creating [...], I thought they could be adapted [...]. Some colleagues saw [...], one of the interpreters who works with us, with him, saw, [...] she saw [...], she praised, “Ah! Indeed! It’s very visual, quite, in my view, quite adapted”. Yeah, but still [...] his performance was not good, and he didn’t ... the view I had is that he was not satisfied with that assessment. That form of assessment. (P9).

In the universe of deaf people, due to the predominance of the Portuguese language, information is still restricted. Thus, when adapting classes and assessments for deaf students, illustration and artistic image are fundamental resources, since, according to Almeida Peres (2012), they play important roles in communication.

Barral, Pinto-Silva and Rumjanek (2017) report that

Seeing is not the same as understanding, and there is a big difference between sensory perception and translation of what was perceived in the development of understanding and knowledge formation. [...] the deaf make much more use of vision for various actions, there are contradictory views regarding the visual perception in deaf individuals [...]. It is undeniable that this sense is fundamental in understanding the world (p. 119).

Thus, the image can be observed as an illustration and interpreted as information, and will be contextualized from the perspective of the content of the text addressed (Barral et al., 2017). This aspect was understood and applied by the professors, as described below:

[...] the visual issue is very important to structure the class, to organize his thinking. And it ends up benefiting classmates as a whole [...]. So, we made the adaptation. I share discipline with another professor, she was also careful, [...] we exchanged a lot [...]. (P10).

In this study, we could observe differences between the hearing students and the deaf student in their academic daily life:

[...] before (EEE), [...] “Ah! If I gave a common text like I give to my hearing students, it would be easy for me to understand that”. [...]. To me it was something like “Oh, I give, he’s going to read like a student, make an interpretation like a hearing student’. But no, it’s not a matter of not hearing, it’s all about cognition that needs to be [...] for us who can hear, cannot perceive, only after you have contact with the student [...] who can’t hear, IT is possible to perceive it, I think this was very important [...]. (P2).

I felt that in discursive questions it was harder for him to be able to express his idea [...] that’s a point. (P8).

For the most part, the translator/interpreter gave me all the tips. The translator/interpreter gave me a lot of tips, a lot of tips and I modified it. And [...] helped me a lot, [...] things that the class has been enjoying a lot! [Laughs]. The classes have enjoyed it, since the last class, from last semester, and now they really like the tips from the translator/interpreter. The hearing students loved it. They felt more ... I’m feeling that they could understand more (YYY). (P7).

From different teaching perceptions, we verified the intense movement of reflection to meet the needs and particularities of the student, aiming, as far as possible, to provide the teaching and content of their adequate subjects, assessments adapted through exchanges with the translators/interpreters among others. However, we could see that their adaptations in class and exams helped the hearing students greatly.

It should be noted that Law no. 10.436, of April 24, 2002, in its sole paragraph, states that Brazilian Sign Language cannot replace the written modality of the Portuguese language, allowing the professor to prepare the tests in written mode for the deaf student. However, according to the Brazilian Inclusion Law no. 13.146/2015, in its Chapter I, General Provisions, in art. 3, item VI, on reasonable adaptations, establishes that the necessary and appropriate adaptations, modifications and adjustments must be met, so that “they do not carry disproportionate and improper burdens, when required in each case, in order to ensure that persons with disabilities can enjoy or exercise, on equal terms and opportunities with others, all fundamental rights and freedoms” (Law no. 13.146, 2015).

Thus, in developing an adapted assessment, in the case of the deaf student, it must have an objective approach to allow translation and interpretation to be done by the translator/ interpreter and that adequate understanding in Brazilian Sign Language is guaranteed to the student. We emphasize that the adaptations made in class and in the assessments do not interfere with the taught content. Thus, the equality referred to in the Law will be met by facilitating strategies, ensuring the student the full content.

3.5 Professors’ feelings and emotions: agony, distress, fear and challenges in the teaching-learning process of the deaf student

Initially, the deaf student’s entry into Medical School triggered a multitude of feelings and emotions that were both positive and negative. However, among those who taught directly to the student, other points were addressed, such as the student’s difficulties in the teaching-learning process due to language as well as cognitive barriers and schooling process. The difficulty of the student to consider understanding the Portuguese language as a second language for full learning, since the Medical Course is taught in Portuguese, and the lack of academic background, also negatively impacted this process.

These initial impasses generated different feelings and emotions for most professors who taught the student directly, but even so, from one of the members, there was a positive report.

At first, I was very anxious, really agonized, you know? To try to imagine what this future of the student, the professors, the Committee would look like ... To be able to develop work that would be good for everyone [...]. Because we are a social body, so it would have to be good for everyone. [...] That was the first moment. It was like, “Wow! He arrived and we do not know much to do ...”. I felt bad, because I do not know what to do, because I think that when we are inside the public university, especially, we have to develop some resources to give base, so that everyone has access, because that is our policy [...] it was almost a sense of guilt, you know? [...] “Gosh, why didn’t I get prepared for that.” (P7).

[...] I think after that feeling passed, came the feeling of: gosh, I’m glad I’m in the first period!!! [...] I can contribute to the beginning of this [...]. Be part of the story [...] an important story. (P6).

The Accessible and Inclusive Permanent Commission members were more optimistic and had more expectations regarding his entry. However, they also considered that, in the daily practice of teaching, in the relationship professor versus student, there were barriers that were emotionally affecting professors of M1.

And the student’s role for me on campus is this! To be taken out of the comfort for some situations that we really needed to look at. So, you have to thank for his entry [...]. I always try to look at the more positive side of these situations. (P1).

Glad this student came, because he will generate some transformation. Although we had a huge job this first semester, we were afraid of not being able to go through this, or of the student giving up, although I don’t think that’s his perspective. Like I said, or the professors not being able to make it happen. I think it seems to me that the positive repercussions are much bigger, and one of them is that students are understanding and seeing and wanting to include. With all the limitations that we Brazilians have, because we are not prepared for it [...]. It’s all very new and I think the new frightens, no matter what. It is frightening, but I think we did a good job [...]. (P4).

The presence of the deaf student in the Medical Course brought to the entire UFRJ-Macaé Campus, and very directly to the professors, indispensable challenges for an innovative work practice, aiming at the quality of teaching:

We are very much into standard traditional education. So when something comes that challenges us, and it’s challenging to have a deaf person in class! You have to completely change your dynamics, the way you assist, the way you host. (P1).

[...] it is a very big challenge, that is to deal with another language, which despite being an official Brazilian language, is not our first language, it is not the most widespread language. [...]. It is a very big challenge. And we professors do not have specialized training to meet the needs of people with disabilities. Mainly a deficiency of the linguistic field. (P10).

We observed, in many statements, a feeling of unity among professors, especially among the Accessible and Inclusive Permanent Commission members, largely due to the achievements made during the semester in favor of the student, despite the many barriers encountered at the beginning of the semester.

[...] the before and after of the student’s entry. You start looking at what was invisible to the Campus, because it didn’t exist. [...] many see it as a problem. [...] I see it as an opportunity. Opportunity to grow, to revise values. To add. And I strongly believe in a public university of this quality. (P1).

[...] we had to make several movements to adapt the Campus and the social body, especially the professors, so that we could receive the student in a minimally appropriate way. 2018.1 was a semester of hard work for the Accessible and Inclusive Permanent Commission, some movements that we made, that I was involved a lot, as I had already commented [...] we got the Sign Language interpreters [...], we got the two interpreters, still in the first semester of 2018, to accompany the students, and we did some... some meetings, mainly about awareness [...] they were very important for us to start this movement here. We even had an event that we were able to bring here from Rio the Professor (XXX), who gave a beautiful lecture, made a great presentation with (translator/interpreter), who is interpreter of Sign Language. And this event was a complete success. We had a massive presence of the Campus professors, especially those directly involved with the subjects that the (EEE) is having, had in the first semester. [...] It was a very, very valuable event very cool [...]. (P3).

And if there is not also an organization, a joining of efforts, in order for everything to be done, to be shared, to be built in the collective, to be really a collective construction, we will fail! [...] if we can really make this collective construction work, involving all people, and with all that strategic planning, thinking in the short, medium and long term, what needs to be done, it is not just us who will profit [...], but our whole social body and the city of Macaé [...]. (P10).

It is noteworthy that, even with the hiring of good translators/interpreters, there is still an important gap in Sign Language regarding the technical signals from different areas of knowledge, such as the field of Biological and Health Sciences. This reality, unfortunately, is an existing barrier for the translators/interpreters to properly translate the content taught by the professor (Barral et al., 2017).

3.6 Student schooling: inclusive education in brazil and repercussions in higher education

The entry of the deaf student into the Medical Course generated expectations of the professors, as it is a disputed course that requires a lot of commitment. At first, the lack of knowledge of his academic profile, his culture, his schooling process, determined different opinions and views about the student. However, throughout the disciplines and conviviality, much was discussed in meetings between the professors of the disciplines of M1, the Accessible and Inclusive Permanent Commission, Campus Management, Medical Course Coordination, among others, because the student presented gaps when assessed by his academic profile, as can be identified in the following statements:

He went through Elementary Schools that did not develop the full potential he has. Because he is a smart boy! (EEE) is a smart boy. He has no cognitive deficit, he has a language deficit. Except that language deficit compromises his academic development. (P10).

[...] it was very clear [...] to me that not, his life as a student, was not directed to a deaf student. [...] One thing that for me [...] I realized, is that he was much more, he had much more welfare in his student life than inclusion actually. (P9).

The process of schooling of deaf students, throughout the history of deaf Education in Brazil, has been the target of many criticisms, constant discussions and changes. And in practice, important gaps have been observed in their academic education process (Dias et al., 2014).

As we can see, the professors reported the student’s difficulty to understand the content taught in the classes as well as the lack of academic and basic culture in the educational process. He said he had difficulty with the content. But then I said, “Ah! But difficulty in content, you need to study, because everyone has difficulties, is new for everyone”. Understand? I make it available for all my classes. I made a link from Google Drive, all my classes are in PDF, and are distributed to all students. [...]. And it’s very visual. [...]. So you have to look and look, read the word, look, read and look. [...] the few times he has spoken, he said: “Ah, I have difficulty because it is so much content”. It’s always like this, it’s a lot of content, it’s a lot of new stuff. It’s just a lot of content, a lot of new stuff for everyone. They don’t know either. (P7).

[...] and also with the base [base in the educational process], which is not exclusive to him, some other students also have. Mainly, [...] some other courses besides Medicine, which are quite heterogeneous. Some students come from schools with a very strong base, others with a slightly weaker base. We know that there is a heterogeneity of content, and professors then have to try to homogenize it in some possible way. [...] In this regard, it is nothing that we are not used to, but within the language barrier, it still compromised him a little too much, in my opinion. [...] we also know that the student has, [...] presented a deficiency in content, in relation to other medical students. [...] it already came with a certain basic deficiency, of content [...], was a finding among the group of professors. ... some of the questions he asked showed that he did not have a mastery of the basic knowledge of what the other students had. (P8).

[...] I realized that (EEE) was not ready for the academic environment, for this kind of dynamic we have. And look, we have a scenario that is very privileged! There are 30 students. We know our students by name. We pass in the corridor, and you know we look in the eyes, and know you’re not well. So, we are very close because the class is very small, compared to others in Rio, where there are 100 students. At Fundão-Campus there are 100 students. At Unirio, there are 90. So, the Medical classes are gigantic classes. And here, no, we are 30. And we realized, I clearly realized that, despite being a scenario even more favorable due to such proximity, (EEE) did not have a systematized culture of study, of organizing the dynamics of his life for the sake of schooling. (P10).

The statements refer to the student’s schooling process that may have had significant gaps and, as a consequence, not stimulated his full potential. Thus, the student’s difficulties may be a reflection of this schooling process, and potentiated by being the medical course, considered one of the most difficult courses.

In Brazil, teaching aimed at deaf students is still in the process of consolidation, involving actions that go beyond traditional education (Law no. 13.146/2015). Starting with the very training of Brazilian teachers in the field of Deaf Basic Education, which was not considered important for decades. Only in the 1970s, the subjects about specific qualifications in the field of Special Education began to be taught in Pedagogy courses, among them deaf education, providing the qualification in Education of the Audio communication Disabled, whose purpose was to allow the teacher to minimally guarantee the student adequate oral language development in order to gain access to the same disciplines offered to hearing students (Muttão & Lodi, 2018).

What was observed at that time was the interest of training teachers focused on teaching deaf students, prioritizing “the therapeutic practices of auditory training and speech rehabilitation in the care of the deaf to the detriment of educational ones, seeking through them its standardization” (Muttão & Lodi, 2018, p. 50). Only twenty years later, when studies on Sign Language began, discussions about bilingual education in the teaching of the deaf, this situation began to change (Muttão & Lodi, 2018).

Bilingualism is currently the teaching method advocated in education of the deaf, already established by law (Law no. 13.146/2015), and has also been discussed its importance in Higher Education so that the inclusion of deaf students is guaranteed in the academic environment. In bilingualism, knowledge of the national oral language of the country (as a second language) and sign language (as a first language) is essential for the best use of the content taught in class. In this field, “linguistic, cultural diversity and the target group” (Silva, 2015, p. 578) should be considered. However, this reality has not been realized in most Brazilian schools yet, and may negatively impact the process of schooling of deaf students and reflect on university education, both for the student and the professor.

In High School, the student who prepares to enter Medical School knows minimally the stress and investment made to achieve such goal, which is to be a doctor. In addition, the entry of the High School student in Higher Education always provides behavioral changes that are beyond just passing the semester (Trindade & Vieira, 2009).

Professors, mediators between students and professional life, already present the load of responsibilities that will be encountered during their job and, due to the responsibility contained in the student as a future professional, still in formation, makes their professors adopt demanding and unambiguous postures regarding the teaching-learning process. The impact consists of the academic maturity needed by the newcomer, because this is his/her new daily life. In the case of the deaf student, we understand that this posture will be no different.

[...] the student who enters the university, already feels the impact from High School to university education, which is completely different. And it is not because he is attending class that he will be able to assimilate the discipline. There has to be a study discipline out of here. To get really involved, and for him I imagine it is the difficulty of mastering the second language, which is Portuguese. He needs to master, because there is so much material to read […]. (P1).

The lack of command of the Portuguese language is a limiting factor for student learning, according to the statements. However, we understand his commitment and duties to classes and learning; the understanding that his difficulty can be overcome through the discipline of studies and academic organization; his involvement with the academic environment, among others, are conditions that will allow him to overcome the difficulties during the course, with the support of all those involved in the educational process.

4 Final considerations

We can conclude that the professors do not feel prepared to receive the deaf student due to a multiplicity of factors such as: teacher education, which does not include inclusive education, nor the deafness issues; the existence of language and attitudinal barriers, due to the scarce participation of deaf students in Higher Education, especially in Medical School; the existence of gaps observed in the pedagogical planning of the course in the field of education of the deaf. However, the professors created a movement to develop strategies for adapting classes and content, with the support of the translators/interpreters who accompanied the deaf student, seeking to excel in their academic interventions, to provide quality education. They also demonstrate that academic excellence is a two-way process in which the student plays a key role.

This research is about the need to individualize and humanize the assistance, seeking excellence, for the institutional demands generated by law, affirmative actions or any terminology that increase the visibility and participation of specific groups previously denied. The debate presents only one of the infinite possible tensions, given the individualities of the human person, as well as his/her possible shortcomings, legitimately described and initiated in the socio-educational field. Legal enforceability is important. The law is positive. It brings out historically ignored realities that now find their place in the debates. The fight against the barriers exposed here can be understood as imminent need for social, political and educational changes in which we are inserted. In this study, we diagnosed, among the barriers faced by the professors in relation to students with disabilities, the specificity of this entity: the lack of academic base necessary for the deaf student to occupy a seat in the Medical Course, such a demanding course for everyone. This understanding is common among respondents.

As a result of the research, we understand that the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, in the UFRJ-Macaé Campus, needs to be prepared to receive deaf students and invest great efforts so that, in fact, an inclusive education is guaranteed for all students with disabilities who join the campus courses.

2Subsidy: One of the authors has a scholarship from the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES). The study was not funded for its execution. We thank Dr. Vivian M. Rumjanek, Full Professor at the Institute of Medical Biochemistry/CCS/UFRJ and coordinator of the DEAF PROJECT UFRJ, who was present throughout the process of construction and development of the research and manuscript, contributing to its viability.

6ENEM - Exame Nacional do Ensino Médio - is a national exam conducted by INEP to evaluate the quality of High School in Brazil. Its result permits the student access to Higher Education in Brazilian public universities.


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Received: February 08, 2019; Revised: July 22, 2019; Accepted: October 03, 2019

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