In the startup world are a ton of issues to address. Although we usually talk about different technologies and sectors like agriculture, mobility, infrastructure, or food, is important to keep in mind that people with disabilities are present and is crucial to talk about accessibility. This is for everyone to enter, move and stay in a place, in a safe, comfortable and autonomous way, as it is a right.
If we talk about the region specifically, it is estimated that almost 12% of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean lives with at least one disability. This represents about 66 million people. In addition, there are communication barriers, and a lack of health spaces or training to take care of these problems. Responding to this, technology startups have focused on providing accessibility to all people, and here are some of them:
In Santiago, Chile, a company for the blind and visually impaired, Lazarillo, has emerged. This platform guides its users in the city with voice messages and connects users with businesses through online shopping and notifications. It has around 200,000 users worldwide and is used daily to have a guide in cities and different locations such as universities, hospitals, museums, and more. They recently achieved an alliance with the Santiago Metro, implementing geolocation and interior navigation in spaces of the subway train in the capital of Chile. Users will be able to locate accesses, ticket offices, and platforms. The platform has business plans to help them reach people with disabilities in their products or services, improving their access.
Continuing with Chilean startups, Wheel the World was born from the desire to do the Torres del Paine route (Patagonia). The company was created to give people with disabilities the opportunity to explore the world as they had done, looking for adventures, and seeks to reach a world where people with disabilities can easily know destinations. Currently, they have opened more than 110 accessible travel routes in 35 destinations worldwide. This, forming alliances with services and hotels and creating a booking and information platform with detailed accessibility information. They have managed to take more than a thousand travelers to their destinations, from the beach in a wheelchair, to mountain expeditions, diving in reefs, or even surfing.
On the Brazilian side, there is the group Talento Incluir. It was created to promote equity in companies and society through the inclusion of people with disabilities. Currently, it seeks to offer solutions that accelerate the inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace. They have different work fronts. These are:
- Diversity and Inclusion 360° Program: a consultancy for companies that want to make a deep and true inclusion.
- Jobs Talent Include: employability of people with disabilities for companies that want to hire and talents with disabilities looking for opportunities.
- UinHub: online marketplace for people with disabilities (www.uinhub.com.br)
- Talent Include Academy: first-course platform focused on Diversity and Inclusion of people with disabilities, which has all the technological and communication accessibility resources.
- Talento senior: employability of professionals over 45 years old.
- UinStock: image bank, planning, and development of content for marketing and communication actions aimed at people with disabilities.
Continuing with the southern cone, from Argentina came Inclúyeme.com. This arose from a close case of the founder, as his brother was looking for offers in the labor market being disabled. However, he could not find opportunities for himself. Thus, this job portal was created, starting with companies that were looking to change their culture to an intentionally inclusive one. After a while, the portal began to grow and is now a company present in nine Latin American countries. The startup explains that it is a task of complete inclusion, where it is not only about hiring people, but that the company adapts to this population and not the other way around. In this way, companies are monitored to understand how the process of active inclusion is going beyond a “quota” or “narrative”.
Thus, although accessibility is perhaps not a topic that is talked about very often, it can be seen that in Latin America steps are being taken to change the culture towards inclusion in a transversal way. Accessibility is necessary for all spheres of society, not only in one market or sector. For this reason, a consciousness of intentional inclusion is being created, where spaces are adapted so that all people can access them, not only as a discourse.