The covid-19 pandemic brought low-income people together in a series of discussions about access to the internet and technologies. Home office, distance learning, opening of schools or not, were dominant themes in 2020.
For people and entities linked to human rights, the leap was imminent: online meetings, virtual protests and even coverage of demonstrations made in a hybrid way (with people who still did not feel safe to go out on the streets watching live broadcasts of the acts performed) .
But how are people with disabilities, who have access to the Internet, but are sidelined by most websites or social networks, including those related to the third sector and entities and associations linked to civil society rights?
According to the latest survey by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE 2010), Brazil has almost 25% of its population with a disability. There are 45 million people, most of them with vision problems, who are often on the sidelines or suffer to keep up with routine content.
Following the global trend, Brazil recently passed legislation that tries to protect the privacy of Internet users, the General Data Protection Law (LGPD), but the legislation regarding the digital inclusion of people with disabilities is still “the law that hasn’t caught on” .
Promulgated by former president Dilma Rousseff, law 13,146, of July 6, 2015 provides that “(…) It is mandatory to have access to websites maintained by companies with headquarters or commercial representation in the country or by government agencies, for use by persons with disabilities, guaranteeing them access to available information, in accordance with the best practices and accessibility guidelines adopted internationally”. The law goes further, and requires sites to have a prominent accessibility symbol.
However, according to the Web for All Movement, only 0.89% of sites were successful in all accessibility tests applied, out of a total of 16.89 million active sites in Brazil, according to its survey released now, in 2021 A number far below the almost 25% of the population that needs these tools.
And not even the federal government enforces the law; the same survey indicates that of the total number of government sites on which the tests were applied, almost 90% had some failure. In other words, companies and governments that are not concerned with the digital inclusion of people with disabilities are, in practice, excluding almost ¼ of the national population.
Inclusion for classes C and D
The processes of building citizenship and democratic political participation require new practices to include the entire society. Among the various agendas, it is necessary to adhere to social policies aimed at people with disabilities, whether physical, sensory or intellectual limitations.
But how to implement this in a country where the situation of food insecurity already affects more than half of Brazilian households? What emergencies should we prioritize at this time of humanitarian crisis in which we live?
In reality, so many “problems” need to be dealt with in parallel and with equal attention. In 2011, for example, the United Nations (UN) stated that access to the internet is a human right.
Thus, the protection of people with disabilities also involves welcoming them through initiatives that include them in the digital universe, such as the adhesion of translators and interpreters in live broadcasts, simultaneous transcription of videos, self-description at the beginning of meetings and debates, or the description #pracegover in posts on social media.
There may also be training and conversation circles with professionals who work with those who have physical disabilities or are not neurotypical, to learn and develop digital inclusion strategies for this audience.
Some free applications also contribute to accessibility and may be appropriated by the third sector and entities linked to human rights, such as, for example, HandTalk, which uses avatars to translate their speech or writing into Brazilian Sign Language (Libras). Or even the Instant Transcription app, designed for people with hearing impairments, which transcribes speeches in real time using the microphone.
Ensuring basic human rights such as housing, education, employment and free expression justifies the struggles that emerge in our society, and it cannot be different in terms of practices aimed at people with disabilities. The leading role in the search for their rights is linked to constitutional guarantees, including in the digital environment.
When people with disabilities have the opportunity to exercise their citizenship with guaranteed accessibility, they are also able to perceive themselves and the other, learn more about themselves, about others and about the spaces they dispute.
It is not about charity, welfare, philanthropy for passive people and objects of the benevolence of others, but about facing the structural contradiction of society that, today, excludes them.
*Victor Amatucci is a journalist for the Social Communication agency and works with Instituto Aliança, the Union of Housing Movements of São Paulo and CAMI – Center for Support and Pastoral Care of Migrants, among others.
**Tatiana Oliveira is a journalist for the Social Communication agency and works with the Alliance for Childhood, the Gaspar Garcia Human Rights Center and the Olhar Cidadão – Strategies for Human Development movement, among others.
***This is an opinion piece. The author’s vision does not necessarily express the newspaper’s editorial line Brazil in fact.
Edition: Leandro Melito