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New Policy Puts 1,500 Handicapped Students in Public Universities

04/09/2018 - 11h58

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JAIRO MARQUES
FROM SÃO PAULO

After five years of failed attempts, Renato Xavier de Oliveira, a student, finally managed to get into a public university this year. Mr. Oliveira, who is in a wheelchair, relied on affirmative action for people with disabilities to achieve the feat. The policy was established by the federal government in 2016.

A survey conducted by Folha revealed that approximately 1,500 students or so - who, like Renato, are also impaired with physical, sensory and intellectual disabilities or autism, and have studied in public schools their entire lives - are managing to get into federal universities through affirmative action.

Even though the number of students who got into universities through affirmative action corresponds to less than 20% of the 8,000 vacancies offered to students with disabilities, it is believed that this group in society has never had this much representation in federal higher education institutions at any given time.

Under the current legislation, the number of vacancies offered to handicapped students in federal universities must be proportional to the number handicapped people in each state.

Half of the freshmen who were contemplated by the affirmative action policy have physical disabilities, while 28% have visual impairments. Those with hearing impairments make up 16% of freshmen while 5% of students have intellectual impairments or autism.

Such students who resort to affirmative action are only enrolled once their conditions have been confirmed via a medical examination.

Renato Xavier, who is studying economics on the Osasco campus of the Federal University of São Paulo, and uses a motorized wheelchair due to his muscular myopathy, said it's a dream come true.

"I'm very busy and I'm still adjusting to the rhythm, but I really like the university. The impact this has had on me is very positive. Before, I was someone who always stayed at home, but nowadays I am doing several things. I feel useful now."

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

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