Rosângela berman Bieler

Ashoka Fellow
Rockville, Brazil
Fellow Since 1989


This profile was prepared when Rosângela berman Bieler was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1989.
The New Idea
Rosangela is setting out to change the focus of the disabled from seeking care to becoming independent, contributing family members and workers. Although this redefinition of objectives is increasingly accepted in the United States and Europe, the disabled in Latin America are generally still left dependent on their families, at terrible psychological as well as economic cost to everyone involved.
In late 1988 Rosangela founded the Independent Living Center of Rio de Janeiro. Through it she hopes to encourage the independence and participation in life of the disabled living in this pace-setting city. It should become normal for them to have their own families, to work, and to go down the street for a beer. Later, she hopes to set up similar centers throughout Brazil.
Probably the most important single step for a disabled person towards full independence is getting a job. Therefore, ensuring that good jobs open up to the disabled is one of Rosangela's chief goals. She's devised an ingenious way of achieving this goal while also providing her Center a substantial, growing source of revenue: Her Center helps large employers manage disabled employees effectively.
This work is part of a larger plan for the Center. It seeks to make disabled people an organized force pressing for their own rights. The Center provides information about housing, jobs, and educational opportunities and also about specialized services and equipment available for the handicapped. It will work to overcome the barriers that now stand in the way of the disabled participating by encouraging specialized job training, access to specially adapted aids and tools, and investment in ramps and other door-openers.
Behind all these specific changes is the most important area needing change - that of assumptions and perceptions. Rosangela will be working to help the disabled, their families, and the broader public see that life could be very different, to expect the disabled routinely to lead independent, contributing lives.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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