Inclusive Hyperconnection - Accessible information in the forefront
In March 2020, the flow of information about Covid-19 migrated online without offering any alternative for accessible communication. Immediately, persons with disabilities – most of them living below the poverty line (https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/resources/factsheet-on…) and having no access to internet in their houses and mobile phones – were put at an unprecedented risk. Facing this tragedy, Escola de Gente created the project. The main action of the project consists of livestreams with exemplary accessibility. That way, Escola de Gente can work towards minimizing said risk faced by persons with disabilities, who are the main beneficiaries.
The objective is to practice equity in the sharing of online information, with two main strategies: the provision of livestreams (“lives”) with exemplary accessibility and fostering society, government and other institutions to hold them as well, with the aim of minimizing the lack of accessibility online, and thus, the risk for people who need these measures. Accessible lives offer sign language, real time closed captioning - without ambient sounds, as it is live - and audio description in the online recorded version as well. Inclusive Hyperconnection is a concept that embraces virtual actions that are low cost or free of charge, accessible, embedding cutting edge technologies and inspired in human rights. Even when the pandemic is over, the idea is to continue the initiative, leaving behind a more inclusive online environment for all.
The project provides a cheap and easy to replicate method for online live information to be fully accessible. When you can access information, media and culture, your mental health is positively impacted. When you have accessibility in informative lives and classes, you contribute to quality education. And the most impactful part is related to the reduced inequalities - this project strikes at one of the core issues that blatantly contribute to inequality, as less accessibility means not everyone gets access to the same information (which might even prove dangerous to their very lives).
Most of the project was done in house, and the process was rather challenging. Because Escola de Gente views something being free as a form of accessibility, this solution, meant to be replicated, had to be as close to free as possible. While you still have to pay for the audio description, sign language professionals and the equipment needed, everything else is mostly free of charge. The total cost of the project, invested until dec/2020 was 48.000 US dollars. The methodology evolved in two ways. First, more companies and organizations employed our technological workaround to create their own accessible lives. Second, the NGO itself started employing its own methodology on bigger, more ambitious projects. On September 19th, 2020, national day of accessible theater, Escola de Gente hosted the very first fully accessible online, live, theater play on brazilian internet, using this methodology. And then, the NGO did it again, two more times. The most recent was December 18th, 2020, and can be seen in this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtIzM9-0HWA -- these live online plays were a revolutionary move, supported by actors and actresses (Tatá Werneck, actress and owner of the 6th biggest instagram account in Brazil, divulged both the first and the most recent plays) and by the media. Regarding monitoring mechanisms, the impact of each livestream was analyzed, with notes taken of the number of people reached and feedback from the commenters. A detailed document with all the commentaries left on the videos of the theater presentation is also kept, along with records on the numbers. The media presence is also closely watched, with lists containing all appearances.
Quantitative results: Audience peak: live 1 - 85 people; live 2 - 124; live 3 - 117; live 4 - 150; live 5 - 579; live 6 - 188. In total, all 6 livestreams reached 48.200 people, accumulating 3.752 reactions, 272 shares, 2.588. Regarding the theater presentations, 2.417 people tuned in. Over 20 articles about the project in the press. Qualitative analysis: Within months of the project’s start, the NGO was helping other organizations - such as Unicef, the Brazilian National Congress and the Public Prosecutor’s Office - produce their own accessible livestreams. This was a positive spill-over. Important milestones: 1 - the first accessible live in the Brazilian social media networks; 2 - the first accessible live for children in the Brazilian social media networks 3 - first fully accessible live online theater play These results prove that there is a demand for accessible content online, and the effects and provocations of the project will remain in effect long after the pandemic ends.
The main element that enabled Escola de Gente to succeed was its experience and foresight into what was happening in regards to the pandemic. The NGO identified that persons with disabilities were about to face the biggest act of exclusion in their lives, and thus, had time to think about the project before the pandemic even hit Brazil. From then, the dedication of its personnel was what brought the project to fruition. The main challenge was figuring out the best way to combine live programming, online platforms and accessibility in one integrated hub, and the financing, as even if cheap, money is still required for some elements.
Inclusive Hyperconnection was designed precisely to be replicated, and the most important thing to mention is that this is already happening! Escola de Gente was so sought after to share the social technology it created that it held a live specifically to teach how to make lives accessible. It was a success! In this very short time period, large organizations like Unicef, Rede Não Bata Eduque and others mentioned before are already implementing our methodology. The latest organization to contact us about the methodology was actually the UN branch here in Brazil, who we have been instructing in regards to the matter. But even though the examples listed were all in Brazil, this methodology can easily be applied all over the world. We at Escola de Gente are always open to talk to anyone to share the knowledge on how to do it, and even plan on creating tutorials to be freely distributed.
The new logic of sociability that has emerged now, and which will also happen post-Covid-19, should contemplate the specific needs of persons with disabilities. Developing virtual accessibility is a way of guaranteeing the rights that are being profoundly transformed in recent times. In addition to the democratization of the content of lives and online meetings, we are also dealing with: distance education, telework, health (online medical appointments), democracy (fully participation in a congressional session online). The fact is, the pandemic brought about changes that are not going away, and this project helps minimize the effects of the lack of online accessibility, reducing the inequalities exposed by these changes, helping especially those who live in poverty or have disabilities.
SDGS & Targets
Deliverables & Timeline
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The practice has been used online, in portuguese, in brazilian activities, but can be replicated and used in any language.