Diversity: The Inclusion of People with Disabilities - Marcelo Neri

October, 2003


Just as the French relate the blue, white and red colours to their revolution ideals: liberty, equality and fraternity, were we to relate attributes to our flag’s green and yellow, what would you choose? I would say: diversity and inequality. Inequality is the Brazilian feature that has remained untouched through the centuries. Yellow refers to the gold extracted first by native Indians, then by African slaves – the last to be freed in the Western hemisphere. Brazil is a country unequal not by nature, but by our own collective choice.

The Brazilian diversity, in its turn, is inherent to each one having been compared to a melting pot of mixed ethnicities, creeds and religions. Insistently, we repeat, as if to convince ourselves, that there is no discrimination here. In our pseudo racial democracy everyone has the same skin colour, as we shall refer here: shades of green. The green of our forests; a secondary colour resulting from the combination of yellow and blue, captures the Brazilian diversity. Only that in Brazil the darker shades of green are used to living in slums and take the rear entrance of fancy buildings of a lighter shade of green. In France,  diversity is a concern but of a different nature where it is not difficult to find French citizens who will say “Vive la France! I want to remain isolated; I want to maintain my own culture”. The Brazilian diversity’s green is mixed inside each one and not in primary colours separately in different people. Diversity and inequality are Brazilian marks – but just how do we deal with these two features? In particular, in the case of People with disabilities (PWD)?

People with disabilities (PWD) or physical, sensorial, or mental limitations on many occasions are not incapable of certain activities, but nonetheless create individual and collective stigmas. These social disabilities present themselves as disadvantages, once the stereotypes and discriminatory actions impede PWD from carrying a normal life in society. One of the major sources of prejudices is the existent disinformation around the difficulties, potentialities and desires of this population group.

We present a succession of profiles belonging to people with disabilities since the freeing of the slaves in the XIX century until the dawning of the XXI century. We preserve in the text the original terms used in each survey, so that some may seem politically incorrect from a current perspective.

Starting at the 2000, the Brazilian Demographic  Census included not only a broader variety of types of disabilities in different degrees multiplying roughly by  factor of 5 the share of PWD reaching 14,5% of the population. As strategy, we analyze complementarily to the sample of the Census’ PWD only those with severe limitations, addressed here as People with Incapacities (PWI)—which includes those with at least some inability in walking, hearing or seeing, the mentally challenged, paraplegics, and those lacking of a member or part thereof—not including those with some or great difficulty in walking, hearing or seeing. When we evaluate the sample of PWI, this corresponds to approximately 2.5%, or one percentage point closer to the value attained in previous surveys. The swelling of the disabilities rate is due to the classification used in the 2000 Census (and in 2010) that by incorporating to this sample the people with some or great difficulty in walking, seeing or hearing, ended up classifying a great part of the senior population as such, once these functional difficulties tend to follow the natural aging process. The proposed solution is beyond the official number of PWD; it is to work with the number of people with incapacities (PWI).

After analyzing a myriad of policies related to PWD, this book ends with successful people with disabilities (PWD) in terms of employment, hereby understood as those who are capable of reaching a position in the formal labor market. This issue refers us to the existent public policies, which aim at guaranteeing a place in the labor market for PWD. In fact it was the first evaluation of the quota system in Brazil. Inspiring lessons for other subgroups of the population. Our analysis’ focuses in the quota of policies implemented in 1999—the main mechanism for the labor inclusion of PWD. The law stipulates hiring floors for the formal hire of employees.

The first point is that the national average of hiring among PWD is very low: 2.05%, a little above the smallest band required by law for firms with one to two hundred employees, and well bellow the 5% demanded of firms with over a thousand employees. The study shows that if the law were maintained, 518 thousand new employment positions would be created, practically doubling the contingent of formal employees. This result reveals a high degree of non compliance with the law by firms and the existence of a broad space to improve the law’s effectiveness.

Keywords: disabilities, labor, quotas, inclusion, wage, inequality


Number of pages: 188

Index of the book

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Disabilities Portraits

Disabilities Portraits in the Past: Concept Evolution in Time

- Surveys 1872, 1900 and Census 1920

- Census 1940

- PNAD (Brazilian Household Survey) 1981

- Census 1991

- PNAD 1998

- PCV / SEADE (Life Condition Survey)1998

High Definition Portrait: Census 2000

Panoramic Disability Portrait
Panoramic Incapacity Perception Portrait

Chapter 3: Disability Maps

Chapter 4: Social Inclusion and Sector Policies

- Health

- Education

- Sports, Leisure and Culture

- Family

- Physical Environment and Transportation

- Compensatory Actions

Chapter 5: Formal Labor Market Inclusion (first impact evaluation of Brazilian PWD quotas)

Chapter 6: Conclusion

Statistic Data (in portuguese) - https://www.cps.fgv.br/ibre/cps/deficiencia_br/index2.htm

Search site (in portuguese) - http://cps.fgv.br/pesquisas/diversidade-retratos-da-deficiencia-no-brasil

* Extra Material - Portraits of Disabilities: Incapacities or Age?