Evaluation methods in legal procedures concerning digital accessibility in Brazil: an analysis of cases investigated by the federal public ministry
Numerous research studies have reported accessibility problems in public and private-owned digital interactive applications. Recent studies have advocated for a policy-based approach to improving accessibility beyond technical aspects. The involvement of official surveillance bodies, such as the Federal Public Ministry (MPF - Ministério Público Federal) in Brazil, is essential to enacting legislation that safeguards people with disabilities rights. Appropriate evaluation methods are essential for adequately addressing the problems people with disabilities encounter in systems about which they make formal complaints. Despite the increase in legal procedures involving digital accessibility, there is little knowledge about the types of evaluation methods used to assess the accessibility of interactive systems during legal procedures. This paper presents an in-depth analysis of publicly-available concluded legal procedures processed by the Brazilian Federal Public Ministry and the evaluation methods used to subsidise the analyses and settlement of the cases. The analysis covered 46 complaints related to 26 legal cases related to public and private interactive systems. The results from the analysis revealed that in 16 cases, MPF ruled for archiving the cases without performing accessibility evaluations on the systems. Of the 11 cases in which MPF performed some accessibility evaluation, nine cases counted solely on a numerical result from an automated accessibility tool. Only one case had its ruling based on manual accessibility inspections with specialists, and one case counted on some user evaluation. The paper describes the arguments used by the accused parties and the MPF. The findings in the paper provide important implications for the employment of accessibility evaluation methods in legal procedures to improve the accessibility of digital applications for people with disabilities.
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