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Only 2% of Greek websites are accessible to people with disabilities, 99% of the disabled people in the country are unemployed

14 March 2014 / 20:03:39  GRReporter
3841 reads

Fátima Taboada López

Intern

Considering that we live in a modern era, the era of equality, all should have equal access to information and entertainment. Nevertheless, what we see, hear and read in the media is often decided and influenced by a small group of decision makers and sometimes certain groups are excluded, such as the disabled. Nevertheless, that continues to be a matter of minor importance and there is no public debate on the topic. Some people blame the whole of society for that in terms of education and culture because people create stereotypes and clichés, and behaviours and act in accordance with a certain behaviour. The fact is that a country has neither education nor culture until it has achieved equality.

Some children are born disabled because their mothers did not receive prenatal care or they had a hard time giving birth. The main problem that people with disabilities have to face is underestimation. Societies in developing countries think that children with disabilities cannot learn or develop skills, so not much is expected of them although many of them have a talent. The media, instead of integrating social groups, create differences between them. When they speak about disabled people, they always speak with pity about them. However, they are at the same time highlighting their achievements, which is something good.

Something as simple as online access for people with disabilities would totally change this situation because they could work, have fun, consult health care, communicate, etc. Studies have shown that only 2% of websites in Greece are accessible to them; they have information available to everyone. For instance, they have videos with subtitles for the deaf.

All these issues have been discussed at the 5th International Conference "Disability and the Media - Integration and Crisis in the Digital Age". Disability is a common topic but we can see only a few disabled people working in the media as journalists or actors, for instance. They are treated as mere individuals and as a topic of conversation but they are not allowed to be part of it. There is still 99% unemployment among the disabled in Greece and the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 December) is only used to send messages to the population but there are no improvements.

The work of the volunteers who help this social group is very important as they become integrated into society. However, the opposite would also be very useful, namely if people with disabilities became volunteers in order to train and teach people, for example journalists.

It has been shown that there are a number of activities related with disabilities that attract media attention, and the best example of this is sports. Several programmes to encourage sports among disabled people have been created in Greece and they have very positive results. Joanna Despotopoulou, president of Special Olympic Hellas, attended this specific event and reminded everyone of the notable success of the Special Olympics held in Athens in 2011, the world's largest sporting event for athletes with intellectual disabilities, which was good for self-esteem. The media helped promote this event with live broadcasts. Right now, the Special Olympics have some programmes that unite disability and sports, such as Unified Sports and Young Athletes.

One of the most emotional moments came when a member of Blue Sky TV stated that the channel would devote to this group one hour a week. Some people blame television for not being more accessible. However, television is a commercial entity that only seeks to make a profit and create a product to consume. It is better not to draw the attention to traditional media, but focus on changes that could be made on the Internet instead, as it is a space for exchanging ideas. It is an environment where everyone has a place.

Smart cities are a great social network and it is important that all sections of society participate in their development to make them accessible to all. However, in this economic climate, all these changes and dreams will probably have to wait.

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