Brazilian Plants Offers Sign Language Inclusion


Promoting real inclusion of people with hearing impairments or deaf people in operations to go beyond compliance with the law on inclusion of people with disabilities in the country.


Five of the seven ERGs currently operating are located in Brazil. When it comes to DE&I Brazil is O-I’s leader in grassroots action through the ERGs. They were the first to develop ERGs and have matured to the point that they have begun to work collectively to celebrate diversity and create a more equitable and inclusive workplace.

In 2018, O-I’s Rio de Janeiro plant employees asked management a vital question: What was the best way to connect with the plant’s 17 deaf employees? During a Diversity and Inclusion training on unconscious biases, the question came from shop floor employees. After discussing with the Unlimited ERG team for the entire

Brazilian employee base, leadership created a simple but powerful inclusivity initiative. This program includes training in Brazilian Sign Language (BSL), also called Libras, or Língua Brasileira de Sinais. More than 30 deaf employees were identified in Brazilian factories. As a result, the People & Culture team realized that it was essential to create a sign language training program. The Libras program takes place over five months with 40 hours of training. Each semester a new class begins. The Rio De Janeiro plant offers the course in-person, online, and recorded. A virtual assistant facilitates learning and makes sure videos and online training are available. By graduation, students understand primary sign language, enabling them to communicate with their deaf and hard-of-hearing colleagues. The Libras program was introduced in 2019 and expanded in 2021 to online training that could reach more people in other factories, especially leaders, and in areas that support employees like P&C. Videos starring O-I deaf employees were created to share basic sign language tips, such as greetings, to promote inclusion. To date, 12 people have completed the course and employee interest is growing as conversations about DE&I continue. As a result, a new class is beginning in 2022.


Professionals in critical areas of human resources, leadership, service and security capable of including and speaking a new language, providing greater inclusion for deaf people in the company. Possibility to hire, attract and retain more diverse talents. Video creation, inclusive onboarding process for new employees, first quality training on an online platform in the world with sign language translation, events with simultaneous translation for the first time in operations. More than 30 people included and more than 12 people trained in a new language.


Kate Murawa

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