Claudia Cotes

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2011


This profile was prepared when Claudia Cotes was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
With a Ph.D. in linguistics and over fifteen years of experience as a speech therapist for TV, Claudia understands the difficulties of the blind and deaf to access and understand daily information. Through her work she seeks to transform the media landscape to ensure they too can become prime producers and consumers of information. Claudia founded Vez da Voz in an effort to truly democratize access to information. With a team comprised of individuals who are blind, deaf, physically disabled, or have Down syndrome, Claudia created Telelibras: An inclusive and democratic model for media that combines Brazilian Sign Language, subtitles, audio descriptions, sound, and images. All materials are designed to make information accessible to all. Some of the information is also produced and presented by her team, working with disabled reporters as the central subjects. Claudia is thus introducing a new approach to media where information is produced by and for everyone.

Having consolidated her model, Claudia is beginning to widely disseminate her shows, with the goal of incorporating the full approach in the mainstream media, either by teaching them how to produce “universal” shows from the get-go or by adapting previously aired programs using inclusive technologies and publishing them online. Claudia’s work is already influencing the Brazilian media in considerable ways. She is producing the first Brazilian radio program in sign language, through a partnership with a major radio station (CNB—from the Globo Group). In addition, Claudia is disseminating sign language content for TV Minuto programs, aired in all of Sao Paulo’s metro trains. She also recently founded Inclusive Films Productions and is the author of many books in Braille. With an eye toward the future, Claudia is developing partnerships with major media outlets to expand access to free, high-quality and inclusive information on TV, radio, and the Internet throughout Brazil.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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