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The story of Hilda Laura Vazquez Villanueva, a HearColors collaborator and user

A photo of Hilda Laura Vazquez Villanueva

“I consider that these kinds of projects provide direct benefits to the persons with disabilities but they are also an example to other private companies, governments, and institutions that should involve us all and generate inclusive programs.”

My name is Hilda Laura Vazquez Villanueva. I have a visual disability. I was born blind. I am currently 45 years old and I am married. I live with my husband who is also blind. I recently had some health problems and I now also have some motor limitations.

I went to school and with the support of the Braille system I was able to finish high school and continue my education. I have a BA in social work from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and a Masters in business administration. I had the opportunity to work in the public sector as well as in different NGO´s.

The use of technologies in my education and professional context started in the nineties but at the beginning the devices and the tools were very expensive not many people with disabilities had access to them, its use was occasional and selective. In Mexico this has evolved and the use of technology has become indispensable and more accessible. Nowadays the promotion and usage of ICT´s is a breakthrough for the persons who live like me with a disability so that we can take advantage of our abilities, increase our knowledge and perform our professional activities.

In Mexico, approximately in the year 2000, the use of ICT´s for persons with visual disability was promoted through different projects. Different alternatives of screen readers and screen magnifiers were presented and since then we started to use them. Nevertheless as we started to navigate the web, we discovered new barriers to access information, as the sites are not accessible. There were no laws to support the creation of accessible content and programmers and designers did not have the knowledge of web accessibility, they did not understand its economic and social impact.

In 2014, there was an important change as different laws were approved to implement web accessibility criteria. This task has not been easy as web accessibility is a new culture and we need to take into consideration both the persons with disabilities as users who are capable of using a computer and access information as well as the programmers and designers who need to understand our needs.

I am against projects specifically targeted for persons with disabilities but I have been working with HearColors and its Web Accessibility Lab since it started and I believe it is a great project that has been able to join organizations that work with persons with disabilities, private companies, government institutions as well as programmers and designers to promote a new web accessibility culture that can benefit us all. I have been particularly involved in doing user testing of the accessible sites and the accessible content that HearColors and the Web Accessibility Lab produces. I am particularly pleased to participate in a project that detonates the active participation of the persons with disabilities as final users.

In my capacity of representative of persons with disabilities, I have also been able to spread the work of HearColors and the Web Accessibility Lab, helping NGO´s get web accessibility benefits. We launched a call for applications so that HearColors and the Web Accessibility Lab could donate accessible web sites to NGO´s that work with persons with disabilities.

I consider that these kinds of projects provide direct benefits to the persons with disabilities but they are also an example to other private companies, governments, and institutions that should involve us all and generate inclusive programs. I am currently collaborating with HearColors as a tester of their sites, as a facilitator in their capacity building workshops and as an active final user of accessible content. I will continue to actively work so that web accessibility as a right for all is a general practice, a social commitment that will continue to break down barriers and to open opportunities for all.

Read more about how HearColors is working to improve web accessibility expertise by reading the factsheet.