Adhara Institute: creating autonomy and independence for the deaf and hearing impaired

Published by on behalf of the sprint master Sirley Souza

Seeking solutions to improve the lives of the deaf & hearing impaired and their families through insight into their daily challenges

A team that loves what it does and does a very good job. A team that knows it can go further. This is what the world needs — more Adhara Institutes. Only then will we make a difference in the world and positively impact the lives of the 9.7 million deaf & hearing impaired people who account for 5.1% of the Brazilian population according to the official census in 2010. Adhara is a welcoming place that is much more than just a place to help the deaf & hearing impaired and their families. “This is my second home. We feel completely at home here.” This is what all parents who bring their children to the institute for assistance say. Adhara now complements formal education for the deaf & hearing impaired, offering the support of multidisciplinary professionals to promote inclusion and self-esteem among its members (be they deaf or hearing impaired or their parents, especially mothers). The great advantage of the institute in relation to other such centers focused on health and education is that Adhara offers comprehensive care.

The Challenge of Integrating the Deaf and Hearing Impaired into Their Families and Society

The institute is now reviewing its business model and rethinking how it can improve the way it helps the deaf & hearing impaired and their families, and especially how to become recognized and a reference in the sector, to have greater impact and reach in its area.

Supported by Co_labore, the challenge established by the client was to improve the solutions offered by the Adhara Institute so the deaf & hearing impaired can communicate efficiently, become independent and autonomous, and live better in their families and society.

Giving Voice to What the Institute Has Done and Could Do

During the first visit to the institute, the deaf & hearing impaired were seen to be very comfortable and integrated — they all have the same difficulties and access to multidisciplinary practices that facilitate their understanding of the world around them. The activities include a course in Brazilian sign language, a literacy workshop, computer lab, integrative therapies, psychology, social work, and more. Moreover, it is there that the mothers — the great supporters and encouragers of the children — get together with other mothers with the same difficulties.

When we talked to all the different types of Adhara users, including those mothers who are with their children or other family members, the answer was always the same: Adhara is the best place for us to be. There is nothing to improve. So, the challenge was repositioned to look for ways to maximize what Adhara has done and find new areas in which it could act to form more independent people who could have a better experience in society.

When talking to the different types of users at the institute, it was found that the life of the deaf & hearing impaired and their families outside of Adhara was fraught with difficulties, be it at regular schools that are not prepared for the deaf & hearing impaired, or with family that cannot communicate with the deaf & hearing impaired, or for those who have finished their time at Adhara and now need to go out into the world. The challenge was greater for these who started learning sign language later in life, and still have problems communicating and integrating in the world.

Seeking to Help the Deaf and Hearing Impaired Throughout Their Journeys

During the process, we found that the Adhara has provided a remarkable and deeply positive experience for its users. Therefore, we focused on looking for alternatives where Adhara could maximize its best multidisciplinary practices to serve as an example and have direct impact on other institutions and other people. Another aim was to increase the reach of the solutions and even use them as a model to influence public policies related to deafness in Brazil.

Adhara currently has solutions that were developed during the Sprint which have enabled it to maximize and broaden its scope and impact on the life of the deaf & hearing impaired to improve family and social relations, with initiatives ranging from solutions focused on education and technology and inclusion, to the future of deaf & hearing impaired people in the workforce, to highlighting their potential in the job market.

The institute will prioritize the activities and solutions focused on communicating and sharing its best practices with users, influencers, and society to impact awareness of parents and family members through teaching and methodology.

“During the Sprint process we learned new ways to understand our service and our users.”

Deny Rezende, director of Adhara Institute


  • The positive impact of work in the third sector is very representative. Finding ways to improve the user experience is challenging. Therefore, it is important to study the entire journey its members go on.
  • Providing an excellent service to its users is equally as important as communicating these services in order to promote the experience and impact its model has on the journey its clients are on.
  • Spending time regularly so that the whole team listens to users and devises & tests prototype solutions — before actually investing resources — was also one of the lessons learned, which has led to rich discussions before implementation.