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Practice and experience before obtaining a university degree enabled civil enginner Augusto Fernandes to learn about accessibility in the cities, the area in which he specialises. Following his father’s footsteps, he graduated in engineering from the Federal University of Goiás in 1999, after six years in a wheelchair, which provided him with “specialisation in practice”.
Since he graduated, 13 years ago, Augusto’s work has been involved in civil engineering accessibility projects. “Being able to deeply know the challenges of a person with disabilities and reduced mobility is an advantage: it allows me to work out problems”, he explains.
Augusto has joined Rio 2016™ as an Accessibility Specialist in the Rio 2016™ area of Sustainability, Accessibility and Legacy. His mission is to prepare and monitor projects for full accessibility to people with or without disabilities in the Rio 2016™ sporting venues. Next week, he will be participating in the London 2012 Observers’ Programme.
The accident that has brought him closer to sport
Augusto was a judoka from 1979 to 1992, when he was seriously injured during training and became paraplegic. “I never thought I could be in this situation. I had to read Engineering and adapt to the university’s lack of accessibility. As soon as I graduated, I realised my mission was to contribute to accessibility in the cities”, he adds.
The injury made him quit Judo, but not sports. A year after the accident, he took up Wheelchair basketball and Swimming and later was introduced to Wheelchair tennis, which he played from 1996 to 2006.
“I began to organise national wheelchair tennis tournaments in Goiânia. In 2008, I participated in the founding of a sports training school for children with disabilities at the Goiás Engineering Club, and was a member of the the organisation’s accessibility and security board”, Augusto remembers.
The ways that have brought him to Rio 2016™
Still in his own civil engineering company, Augusto started to develop building and pavement accessibility constraint-solving projects.
He developed projects in 2009 and 2011 with a construction company that built not only the buildings but also the pavements of the blocks in the surroundings, considering accessibility, soil permeability and tree planting.
As an advisor to the Goiás Regional Council of Engineering and Architecture (Crea-GO) he was in charge of the coordinating the accessibility group, where he developed the City of Goiânia Accessibility Guide, the Sustainable Pavement Manual and courses in accessibility for students and professors in the areas of engineering and architecture, before he participated in the recruitment process to become an Accessibility Specialist at Rio 2016™.
“It’s a feeling I can earn an opportunity I’ve always dreamt of”, says Augusto about his new position.