Nowadays, it is very common for people to keep a profile and access social networks on a daily basis, either through mobile phones or computers, either for entertainment or to search for information. However, for 17.2 million people with disabilities – which corresponds to 8.4% of the population – access to networks is not so easy.
According to the federal public defender André Naves, an expert in human and social rights, the little digital accessibility offered to people with disabilities in Brazil is a consequence of the neglect and prejudice of society towards these people, which even favors the maintenance of this situation, separating them from part of the population and reducing their communication possibilities, as well as understanding different realities and reading the world.
“Social networks are very supportive of vision. Platforms generally do not offer effective resources to people with disabilities. Therefore, it is important that there be more investments to make it easier for people with disabilities to communicate in networks. Audio descriptions and subtitles in videos, for example, are resources that greatly help and thus democratize access to information and communication,” he commented.
Difficult navigation on websites and portals
According to International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, accessibility must be developed based on the identification and removal of obstacles and barriers. Thus, media that offer digital content, according to Naves, must also eliminate obstacles to participation and access to information for people with disabilities, even if it is taken into account that “people with the same disability may experience different obstacles”, at the same time in which “people with different people with disabilities can face the same obstacle”.
For André Naves, in addition to facing prejudices and difficulties in accessing digital media, people with disabilities still have an underestimated purchasing power, when we talk, for example, about electronic commerce.
“Today, commerce – and not only electronic commerce – ignores these approximately 17.2 million Brazilians, who are not considered potential consumers. Keeping our eyes closed to this reality brings losses not only to this part of the population, but also represents a huge loss for companies, all over the world. So I advise entrepreneurs to rethink their marketing methods if they want to reach more than 1 in 4 Brazilians,” said Naves.
For the public defender, it is past time for companies and organizations to put aside the idea that investment in inclusion and accessibility is something secondary, because what we see every day is that inclusive initiatives have become a vital factor in the success of ratings. Just check out the advertising campaigns of the big brands.
In order to overcome the segregation of this segment of the population, Naves believes that awareness of greater digital accessibility can even include “communication policies” that promote the “direct participation” of people with disabilities.
“Persons with disabilities should be invited to participate in discussions that go beyond their own problems and include all sectors of society. It is fundamental to employ these people, for example, to work in virtual environments, including Libras translators in video production routines, using platforms that generate automatic subtitling, offering audio description courses to workers in the digital environment. These are essential actions to promote the inclusion of PWDs in the digital world,” the public ombudsman concluded.
How to make the digital world more accessible?
- With audio description (description of images through sound), for example, the content of the images becomes accessible to people with visual impairments and people with mental disorders (who may face difficulties in reading symbols);
- Subtitling is useful for deaf signers (who use Brazilian Sign Language), people with oral hearing impairment (who use oral language, read or lip-write), as well as for people with intellectual disabilities;
- For audio content, the guideline is to use slower speech, while suppressing more speech at the same time. In “cards” it is necessary to avoid text over an image, with low color contrast or with letters of a very ‘polluted’ format;
- It is important for companies to think about broadcasting the same content in different communication methods, so that the message is available to different audiences;
- Bet on screen readers for the blind;
- Expand the production of high-contrast displays for the visually impaired;
- Mice and keyboards adapted for people with physical disabilities;
- Expand the offer of platforms and/or translators from Portuguese to Libras for deaf people etc.