Reading Time: 2 minutesEsther Pina is the CEO and Founder of Secret Sound, a start-up devoted to making music and culture accessible to deaf and hard of hearing people.
"There isn't any disabled people, just disabled technology"
Esther, what are the main barriers people with hearing and speech disabilities find when trying to access culture?
There are a lot of barriers that define the audiovisual industry. Maybe the biggest one is that it is managed without taking disabled people into account in any part of the creative process. Therefore, it's tough to adapt to something not conceived as accessible from the beginning. It can be done, but it's more complicated. This brings us to the next barrier: people think that they can only hear through their ears. Deaf people have already told us that it's not the case. These two are the main barriers they have to face every day.
What does Secret Sound do?
Secret Sound is a startup that manages accessibility for deaf people. So what we do is bring together all the available technologies to break the access barriers to the audiovisual industry. We also work on the accessibility of events and content outside of Secret Sound.
How do you think technology will play a part in making disabled people be more included in society?
A long time ago, I heard a sentence that said that there aren't any disabled people, just disabled technology; this is the key to everything. We as a society need to try to be more empathetic and think about inclusion in the early stages of any project. Think about it; why do you have to fix a gap that may be solved at the very beginning with technology?
If we think about technology, what technological barriers do you believe we must demolish to create this society that's accessible for everybody?
I guess there are so many barriers that it would be challenging to choose one. We must focus on the obstacles we create as individuals—the rules we make. Maybe if we tear them down, disabled people's accessibility will be easier to understand.
What do you think technology can make the arts accessible to everyone?
Yes, definitely. I think we have the technology now available, so maybe we have to focus on people managing this technology because we can do whatever we want with this.
Do you think that a future that leaves no one behind is possible?
Definitely, but it's not something that only belongs to companies. I think it's our work, what we all have to do as a society. We are always talking about innovation, but we cannot talk about innovation if we leave people behind. We, as a society, have to act, even if we don't want to build a startup or a project, just sharing some information with others and knowing that this is something to take into account. We will get it sooner than we think if we focus on it.