In less than one month, the cartoon “Min e as Mãozinhas (Min and Little Hands)” has more than 150 views: the goal is to entertain deaf children and teach Libras (Brazilian Sign Language) to hearing children
In less than one month on air, the cartoon Min e as Mãozinhas has had more than 150 thousand views on YouTube. This is the first of 13 planned episodes, all of them produced by animator Paulo Henrique Rodrigues. What makes “Min e as Mãozinhas” so special is that it’s the first cartoon entirely in Brazilian Sign Language (Libras) produced in Brazil.
Founder of the project, Paulo Henrique says that the goal is not only to entertain the deaf audience, but also to promote Libras teaching to hearing children – an age in which they are more open for inclusion and to learn a new language. “Deaf children’s reality is that they don’t have a type of entertainment they can simply sit and enjoy,” states Paulo Henrique.
The history’s backdrop is the urge of the main character – Min – to communicate with animals. “Elephants speak elephant language and cats speak cat language, so no one can understand each other. Then, Libras appears as a solution for them all. By learning the new language, they can communicate without fear and become closer friends in a more understanding and inclusive society,” explains the project founder.
The idea of designing “Min e as Mãozinhas” came to life from a marriage, where Paulo Henrique tried to communicate with a deaf woman and was unsuccessful – at the time, he could not even ask for salt. Then, the animator, who was part of cartoon productions such as “Monica’s Gang” and “Sítio do Pica-pau Amarelo (the Yellow Woodpecker Farm),” decided to do something to support inclusion.
To produce Min e as Mãozinhas, Paulo Henrique worked along with Libras teachers and interpreters, who helped to prepare a script that could work as educational material, so that hearing children could be introduced to the new language. The cartoon is targeted at 3 to 6-year-old children.
Homage is paid to the Brazilian deaf population every September 26th, established in 2008 as the National Deaf Day. This date alludes to the first education institution for deaf boys in Rio de Janeiro, a work delivered by the Empire of monarch Dom Pedro II – this is the date chosen by Pedro Henrique for the launch of “Min e as Mãozinhas”. Currently, at the local where the institution was founded, resides the Ines (National Institute of Deaf Education).
This institute became a national reference for the teaching of deaf children and qualify teachers, who are licensed to teach this population. There, the French sign language merged with the developing Brazilian sign language and, together, they shaped what we know today as Libras (BSL).
For nearly a century, teachers and educationalists had been debating over the best way to educate deaf children, and only in 1993 the first bill was drafted aiming to regulate and make Libras official as a Brazilian language. In 2002, the Brazilian Sign Language was finally accepted as the second official Brazilian language.
Although it is somehow related to the Portuguese language, Libras is a native and strictly Brazilian language. Portugal, for instance, has another language for deaf people, the Portuguese Sign Language (PSL).