Accessibility in Emerging Countries / Claudio Luis Vera and Ioanna Talasli #ID24 2019

Accessibility in Emerging Countries / Claudio Luis Vera and Ioanna Talasli #ID24 2019


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inclusive design 24.org website. We would like to say a quick
hello to everybody joining us live from
ID24TO in Toronto. And next up, we have Claudio
Luis Vera and Ioanna Talasli.
» Accessibility and emerging countries
» Thank you. Take it away. » Okay. Thank you, everyone. I’m some of you may know me. I work with a major cruise
company, Royal Caribbean, and one of the advantages that I
have is I get to work with digital accessibility, and on
the other hand, I get to work with accessibility in the
physical world. And also, because we’re a cruise company,
we travel to many different countries. And that was part of,
you know, the reason why we decided to have this talk about accessibility in emerging
countries, because we have run into different cultures. We run into different legal
structures, different sorts of bureaucracy sies from one country to the next . I’m going to pass it along to
Ioanna. » Hello and thank you for having
me here. I come from Greece. I’m an accessibility advocate,
and I would love to share my story about Greece and what happens here.
» So one of the things that we’re going to be talking about
today is we’re going to dive back into a little bit
of Marxist theory and we’re going to look at world systems
theory, which kind of divides the world into different kinds of companyies — countries. It
is kind of like haves and have notes. This sort of thinking
originated in Yale in the ’70s. A lot of it
has to do with what is core and what is periphery. So, let’s look at core nations.
They are what many of us would call the developed world. In the 19th century you would
have called them colonial powers. They are economically
diversified. They are wealthy. They are powerful. But they also
have very strong central governments and they have big
government. You also have stronger and more
complex state institutions and they’re
well funded because you have a very large tax base to support that
infrastructure . Your other countries may have
an informal economy. In a core nation, almost everything is
being reported and almost everything is being taxed or
regulated in some way or another . Core nations tend to be
technologically advanced. They’re in the forefront. In terms of income distribution,
it’s much more even. You don’t tend to have a small aristocracy that owns 99% of the
wealth. You have one that owns maybe 80%
of the wealth. You also will find a strong working class. You
will find a strong middle class that’s well educated and that
votes . We have photos from Peru,
where some of my family is from. They’re less economically
diversified. They have typically one cash crop or one mineral
export or tourism. One industry, which is really the core of the
country’s economy. You have weaker governments with
weaker institutions a smaller tax base
to draw from. You may have a department that handles, like
for instance, human affairs, but that is less well funded and
less likely to be able to sponsor programs for people with
disabilities. You also find less
industrialization. You will find more uneven income distribution
where a much smaller proportion of the population owns a much
larger share of the resources. And you may not even find that
some countries, a strong middle class
or one to speak of. So, the other thing is peripheral nations have been
very much influenced by core nations, or if not, they have
been very much influenced by organizations like the IMF or
the world bank that lend money to
peripheral nations and set the terms for those loans. So, often
times they are not necessarily the masters of their own des any . — destiny. Let’s look at the
U.S. at a nationwide level and maybe compare a few of the
different cities. So in the U.S. , you have very strong
legislation, we are familiar with section 508. We may be
almost as familiar with the 21st century video accessibility
act or the CVAA. And we have public institutions for people with disabilityies. We
also have fairly strong statistics through the census
bureau. They keep a fairly good tally
every ten years with occasional surveys in
between of what the amount of people are with disabilities. And the levels of assorted
disabilities that they have . We also have accommodations
for voters with disabilities. So, if you’re not cited, you
have other sort of affordances and ways to vote. That may not
exist in other countries. So, you may actually find a large population of people with
disabilities not being able to have access to the ballot box, which approximate become which
becomes an issue. If we look at different metro
areas, you know, we have a list of in
the U.S. and Canada. Seattle, DC, bay area, Chicago,
New York, Boston, Toronto, Montreal. And am proud to say that I am
not in any of those right now. But what would you find in a
core metro area? You’re going to find a critical mass of
accessibility practitioners. You’re going to find dedicated
accessibility consulting firms or organizations . You will have a well
established meet-up group. Shout-outs to my people in
Toronto and Chicago for doing such a good job. They will have
regular accessibility events. And those meet-up groups and
organizations are pretty well sponsored. So, those are the hallmark of a strong
metro area that we can say is part of the accessibility core in the United
States. In south Florida, we have
culture, as you can see by the photo. We don’t have the
critical mass of accessibility practitioners. As a matter of
fact, I could probably count the full-time
accessibility practitioners on this side of the Georgia line,
probably on one hand. That’s to give you an idea. It’s a small
community. It’s not about reaching out to
practitioners. It’s really about reaching out to people who are UX designers,
developers, entrepreneurs, you know? Who work in technology in
one way or another but who don’t handle accessibility full-time. So, we don’t have any dedicated
accessibility organizations that are larger than 20 people that are
based here in south Florida. That leaves us with a small
sponsorship pool to pull from if we want to have an accessibility
meet-up group. So, these are sort of initiatives that I’ve
started over the last year or so. We have this meet-up group
that’s in its infancy. We’re just starting to have regular
events. And we use different language a lot of times than you
would find in other parts of the country. So, there are certain terms in
other parts of the country that would be found offensive that I
find people using constantly, even within disability
organizations. So let’s take this a step
further. So let’s go beyond beyond the core to a
state like Florida. Let’s go to Puerto Rico. Puerto
Rico is interesting, because it’s technically still within
the just, and it’s where the core and the periphery collide.
So, how does this happen? Picture yourself in a public
hospital in Puerto Rico. It has been built with U.S. government fund s you will find the signage,
mobility, access, all really meets U.S. government standards,
which are pretty high. And you will find that the standards end
at the sidewalk. So, you have this sort of
juxtaposition between the American government
and pretty much what you would find in the rest of Latin
America, which is not as developed. So, you will find
that anything that’s related to the government is great.
Statistics and data gathering are almost as good as they are
in the mainland. Institutions are there. You will also find
that they are based on the medical and the charity models
of disability. So, employment opportunities may not be the
best for somebody who is in Puerto Rico. Certainly if you
have a disability. But on the other hand, there is
lots of government funding. So, you are kind of — the way it’s structured almost pushes it into
a sort of welfare state. So you are also going to find
things in Latin culture that are very
significantly different than in the states. People with
disabilities, a lot of times, you don’t even refer to them by
name in Latin culture. It’s like if Maria has a Deaf
son, you would refer to them as — you wouldn’t refer to him
by his name, even if it’s Gustavo. In
common conversation, they would lose their name. We in the
states like to say that we are not our disabilities. But in Latin America, you are
nicknamed, and that disability would become part of your name
or how people talk about you for life. So, all of us have an aunt. Or you have famous entertainers
[ speaking Spanish ] where those words are addressing whether or
not they are fully abled or other physical features like
being skinny. So, it’s very hard, culturally,
to separate disability from how you think of a person. The other
thing I want to point out that in Spanish, gender is at the
core of every noun and everiage
jektivey adjective you use. So, gender neutrality is much
harder to achieve than it would be in American culture.
So people with disabilities, you know, typically they are also
not independent. That brings you into the protected society that
you have. So, when hurricane Maria passed through the island
two years ago, there was, you know, the collapse of the
infrastructure that led a lot of people to immigrate here to south Florida. What happened a lot of times is
those immigrants chose their situation, they chose their
living, they chose where they went to based on the facilities that they needed for whatever
household members had a disability. But it doesn’t
necessarily come from a place of empowerment. It comes from the
charity or medical model where you’re looking at somebody who
is disadvantaged with some sort of pity.
The other thing with Puerto Rico right now is with a change of
government and with all the chaos that has been going on,
there have been historically a lot of missed opportunities for
improvement. But on the other hand, if Puerto
Rico could get somehow on track to the same level as the United
States and be able to capitalize on a lot of the opportunities
that we have here statecide side, there is a lot
of potential for growth and
improvement . So, with access, what do we
want to see ? A lot of social trust. And an absence of corruption and
Crohn cronism. We’re now going to pass it on to
Ioanna and we will talk about Greece with a different point of
view and a different set of challenges. So, we’re working our way from
core outwards. So, you want to tell us what
it’s like in Greece? What is the culture there? Would you be able
to be open, out in the open if you have a
disability? » Depends. It’s considered — especially
when we refer to the so-called invisible disabilities. People
would not talk easily about them. A factor which makes
things more complicated is that private health insurance
companies and sometimes state officials treat disability as a
disease. So, to be open about disabilities is
mostly to get the proper medical treatment when they face
problems in their everyday life. This is not the case for
disability advocates, having a visible
disability. They confront the legislation and fight for universeal
accessibility in the physical and digital world. And according
to a survey, people in 2013 were much more open about discussing
their disability compared to 2002 . » I know in some countries, it’s
acceptable to discriminate against people with disabilities
or sometimes there’s a different way that people handle that.
What’s that like in Greece? » My personal opinion is that
it’s not okay at all to discriminate against anyone. It
is not okay to make fun or or discriminate or bully any human
being. But from a legal point of view,
the European Union provides the
directive to all of its members. So, the Greek parliament had to
pass a law to align to European
directives . It applies to all persons
regardless of their age, race, color,
ethnicity, disability, or chronic disease. According to that law, the
decree should have been enacted within
12 months of the law’s publication . But this is not enacted yet.
It does not protect persons with disabilities in all areas of
their life. There was another thing asking
people with disabilities what do they believe, if there is
discrimination, if they still face discrimination
in the in Greece, and 79% believes there
is still discrimination. They feel that in the job
market, in the street, and in the lack of
existing public spaces. Eight out of ten believe that
limbed or non-existent access to goods and
services discriminate towards persons with disabilities. » So what is, you know, with the
law that’s there, what is the legal framework like? That’s
kind of like what you build everything else on top of .
» Of course. Greece is part of the U.N. and also part of the European
Union. Since the United Nations
convention on the rights of persons with
disabilities obliges nations to take
appropriate actions to ensure that those
with disabilities have equal access
including communication technologies and the internet. Greece had to comply with an EU
directive which provides accessibility only to the public sector
bodyies’ websites and applications for mobile devices. And in that law, that was passed
in 2019 by the Greek parliament. And. It covers all of this. It has a number of exceptions
like the national television and radio
stations. It meets accessibilities
measured up to the European standard. And 301 549 websites and mobile
apps accessible. The law states that it requires regular
monitoring and reporting of the public sector websites and
mobile apps by member states. And these have to be
communicated to the commission and to be made
public . In this record, the accessible
websites and applications for mobile devices must be
registered as soon as they comply with accessibility
requirements stated by the law. It also set concrete dates with
deadlines to comply with the European directive. So, far, I haven’t
seen anything online . Unfortunately, there was
nothing there. That’s pretty much the web accessibility
around. So, I hope, and let’s wait to see what happens. And I
will keep you posted if anything changes for the better.
» Right. Right. So, Ioanna, do you see that
there’s this different level of compliance that’s needed from
government website or a public sector website as opposed to a
private site? Is there a difference between ecommerce
sites and just regular personal websites? There’s nothing on the private
sector yet. The law that I mentioned before,
it is strictly about the public sector bodies. It’s only for the government. It’s only things inside the
government. There is nothing about an ordinary website making comply with
accessibility standards yet. » So even with tourism being a
large sector of the Greek economy, for instance trs,, a hotel website,
ferry website, restaurant website, if you were a blind
person, you wouldn’t necessarily be able to book reservations on
any of those, right? » If the company feels that
there is an audience there, which for me, there’s a huge
audience there, of course they would do something about it. But
there is no law making them do something about it
» Right. HSR, I guess. I hope, not I guess. In the future, I hope we see
changing that . I know we have talked about
different organizations. » There is the national
confederation of disabled people of Greece. Then there’s the Greek om buts
bud sbudsman. There are various organizations
that fall under the umbrella of NCDP. There are NGOs promoting
disability awareness, assertion of rights and services for
people with disabilities » So what about the state of the
art of statistics or the sort of knowledge that you can get out of it? » The collection of statistical
data regarding disability is very poor and strictly limited to the health
field, the field of health research. So, unfortunately, there is not
any accurate public record. As a country, we don’t have
demographics regarding age, gender, types of disabilities,
etc. So, this is a thing that makes even harder the work of us advocates
» Right. So, like the census bureau in the United States will
ask you questions about the level of assistance that you
need. Can you read without difficulty? Can you dress
yourself? I imagine those things are not
there? » No
» So it’s hard to get anything about accommodations, because
really you’re dealing with disability as a medical
condition » Yeah. Unfortunately » So, I know you guys went through a
painful time with financial and debt crisis and the austerity that was imposed
on your through the IMF. How did it affect people with
disabilities there? » First, it affected the whole
country as you said, a topic for middle
and low class citizens which suddenly had to deal with interactions . The economic crisis, which
began in the United States and spread all around Europe in
2008. That was the same time as fiscal
austerity and increase of unemployment rates and negative economic
growth . You can see the factors
affecting the quality of life on the slide. 74%cyted ed cited shrinking income, 59%
experienced lack of access. 88% had inefficiency. There are more tallty rates are
on an upward trajectory, mostly are elated to unemployment. So, the official records
gathered by the statistical authority, more than 4,200
people committed suicide in Greece due to the economic
crisis. So, it’s really, it was a really
huge issue . There was a brain drain where
Greeks in their 30s and 40s have
integrated to the other EU countries from 2008
to 2016. So, more than two thirds were university graduates, health
officials, IT officials , it was enough — in all
aspects. We felt the terror of what the
next semester will bring. So, at the same time, any social
structure and democracy. Nationalists begans became the
third most powerful political party in our government. And another thing was the war in
Syria forced thousands of refugees every month to leave
their country. That was a huge mantarian
humanitarian issue. That was really tough for them and still is . We don’t have any updated
specific data marker . But according to the NCDP in
2013, the main findingss that are
extracted for this talk is on the question which are the factors of your life
deterioration. 74% said that the main factor is
shrinking income. 59% said that the second factor is the lack of
access in the job market. And in the question regarding
barriers, 88% said the inefficiency of
public sector structures. And 73% the social prejudice and
58% their disability. So, as you see, everything one way we talk about disability is much
worse than think ing than the population.
» Right. And you know, I can imagine, I mean, you being of
that age group, you know, where there was the brain drain and
high level of homelessness, it must
have had a pretty big impact on you,
personally . I have been a business owner
for many years. Hard working, demanding
environment. Same thing for me and my
business . I was living in the grooek
Greek islands of the — you know those . So, things were never as bad
for me as people living in Athens and other large cities at
the time. And of course, I’m privileged to
have a very supporting family. They stood by me when things
seemed that they would never be normal ever begin again. So, I realized that I needed to
be resourceful . And becoming a digital person
has always been appealing to me. Wanting to have a border-free
dijgital world could provide me to work remotely all over the world . Creating accessible user
experiences from the beginning to discrimination,
marginalization, and to create memorable experiences
for all in the best way possible. This has always been my compass
in my professional life. So, that’s it . This is how I ended up in
accessibility. I’m not sure where I will find
the proper path . Playing a huge role in all
stages and an afterthought, due to limited time or budget . That’s hard in Greece. I’m
ahead in exploring all of those things about human conditions
and the limitations the surrounding
environment will bring in, inevitably, to
all of us in our life. At the same time, since — while
I’m studying, I’m a part-time
caretaker of one of my most loved people in
the world, diagnosed with dementia. So, the cognitive part
of disability and the in the aging population
with the combined limitations the state brings to people is one — is the one that
I relate most at this point in my
life. And I would like to explore further in my future job
positioning. » Awesome. Awesome. I mean, I hear from what you’re
saying, a lot of the same common struggles and the same having an
older parent that’s kind of introducing you into a lot of
the issues around aging and disabilitieses that come
abilities that come with aging. Make looking a little bit into
the future, is there a path? Is there a road map that you see
that Greece may be taking towards accessibility? » Hmmm, in general, I believe
that as a country, we need to take actions
if we want to see change happening.
Develop regulations that defines the methodology of disability
mainstreaming to all public policies . Have qualitative and
quantitative indicators for measurement. Concrete legislative measures to
recognize the denial of reasonable accommodation constitutes direct
discrimination. And specifically in terms of
disability not in the medical like a
medical condition, rather than following the social model of accessibility,
which I follow. And also reasonable accommodation and disproportionate burden, and
implement measures to implement accommodations without treating people as a
burden . And ratifying the rights of
persons with disabilities in 2012. And aligning with specific
dates on implementation and monitoring of
the convention that were introduced in 2017 with national law adopting the
human rights approach and the social
model of disability. There is no universally applied
definition on disability, and that’s the medical approach in many areas. For example, in the field of
disability assessment, which is hard.
» Right. Right. So, I don’t know, maybe
looking a little bit further, what’s the
impact that the legislation is going to have? Or what’s happening in the near
future? » I hope, yes, it will be
positive. Universal accessibility in both
the physical and digital world is the goal for the future. The introduction of new
directives to help financially. We could use those funds to
educate public servants in order to provide quality services, eliminating
barriers, and prejudices and
discrimination towards people with disabilities. There is the European
accessibility act, which passed from the EU parliament on 13 of March, 2019. It is a
directive that aims to improve the functioning of the internal
market and for accessible products and
services by removing barriers in the EU
member states. And all EU member states would
have to integrate the directive into their national legislation in three
years of their listing the EU’s official
journal. This will insure that the
national market surveyed and its
authorities have to compensate to hold private
entities accountable. The European accessibility act
will help the disability movement. First, it is electronic
communications and 112 emergency number. ItAll of those will become
accessible to everyone throughout the European Union. And the requirements of that
will also support rules for accessible products and
services. So, public authorities do not
any more use taxpayers’ money in products and services and facilities that are
discriminatory of persons with disabilityies . Those are huge wins. And there are a number of
benefits for businesses in the EU and the European citizens. Businesses will benefit from
common routes and accessibility in the EU according to cost reduction. Is there a cross border tradeing
— I’m sorry. More market opportunities for accessible
products and services. And persons with disabilityies
will benefit from more accessible products and services in the market in
far more competitive prices, fewer
barriers in education and the open labor market, and more jobs available where
accessibility is needed. So, the European act covers
products and services that have been
identifyied as being most important for persons with
disabilityies. And those products and services
include computers and operating systems. ATMs, to getting and smart
phones . Video equipment, banking
services. Ebooks, ekmrscommerce. On the
other hand, despite the umbrella organization for the European
organizations for persons with disability, stated in their
press release that this is their actual — this is an actual part from
their press release. However, that still does not
satisfy our key demands. It is misleading to say that the act will ensure accessibility of
buildings and means of transport. At the heart is where this means
that millions of person s living in the EU will still
face daily struggles to leave their home. That does not include household
appliances such as washing machines and microwaves, etc. And this means that millions of
persons with disabilities will still
face daily difficulties to use appliances and live in their own
home. » Right. I’m not so sure that
isn’t something that’s unique to Greece, too. I mean, you see, for instance, a
lot of the countries where appliances are made, you know,
don’t have any significant advantage. If you have issues
with appliances, you know, in Greece, you would have
them in South Korea or Japan. We definitely do have the
struggle in front of us in all of those
regards. » And all the things that micro-Enterprises providing
services from complying with requirements
from that. » So if you have a smaller
business than those, you’re not bound to the
effects of that act » Nope.
» That makes things interesting. So, I don’t know. For this
conversation that we’ve had, looking at Greece, looking at
different aspects of the United States, I was hoping to be able
to have something a little broader. But it’s hard to get all of that
into 40, 45 minutes. And I see in the future, you
know, maybe we do need some sort of a
mood model to evaluate different countries. To see if we have a
questionnaire, how strong, on a scale of 1-10, is
your central government? How broad is your tax base? What’s
the level of funding that you have for institutions, you know,
like the ones that you have in Greece
or the ones that you have in the States for providing service to
people with disabilities. So, people able to almost have a
score for how accessibility friendly a
country or a particular metro area is. And then having, like, this sort
of universal set of criteria like the World Health
Organization has, for instance, with their model disability
survey. I know a couple of times, I
mean, you and I have had conversations,
you know, where it’s almost like seeing what’s happening in
core cities of the United States and the level of infrastructure
and support that you have there, you know, that we don’t
necessarily see that in our own community . You have had that in Greece
and I in south Florida. It’s easy to feel the envy for
what is happening in the core metro areas or core countries. I
see you, for instance, as somebody who is a tremendous bridge
person between what’s going on in the U.S. between what we are exchanging
in this community to, you know, a
country that’s almost new to access. I see it here in south Florida.
If there’s one thing I could wish for, it would be that we
would be able to share and almost have like an organizer
tool kit — » That would be great
» You know? Or a founder’s tool kit, where
we go in our respective communities and
say this is a checklist. You need to start local
meet-ups. You need to develop a body of advocates. You need to str the behind the
scenes task force with people in
different aspects of corporate government helping each other
out. So, you know, we’re, you know, I
would hope that, you know, this is something that we could
share, you know, for people in all countries, whether it’s in east Asia or whether it’s in
India. But I feel like all of us who
are in emerging countries could definitely benefit from this. On that note, let me thank
everybody who has joined us and stuck around
for this whole hour. Carrie or Patrick, if you want to open it
up for questions, please do. » Thank you very much. That was a very powerful talk. I almost feel like we’re
cheapening the impact of it by just asking a
very specific question. I’m being mindful of the time as
well. I’m afraid we won’t have time for questions just now. But I just wanted to thank you
for a very interesting and very unique talk. It touched on a lot of topicss
also dear to my heart at the moment. So, thank you very much.
That was great. » I was just going to say thank
you, too, to our speakers. I think this was such a great
presentation. A lot of points to think deeper on. So, thank you
very much for sharing. » Thank you very much for giving
me the opportunity to pass on to the
world what is happening in Greece. And thanking the
community which is the accessibility community, which
is where I met Claudio. Very helpful and friendly
community that have friends and allies all
over the world. I don’t have them in Greece, but I don’t feel
lonely because I have all of you around.
» Thanks. That’s good to hear. And that’s what ID24 is about.
About the global community » Definitely, definitely,
definitely. » Absolutely
» I’m sure, because I gave a lot of facts and information, if anyone
would like any links to resources or
data, please find me on Twitter . I would be glad to talk about
anything related to accessibility
» Fantastic. Thank you very much.
» Thank you very much for having us here. It’s been an absolute pleasure
and an honor to present on ID24 » Thank you. Likewise. We’re
very honored. All right. And now for the audience at home, if you
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