According to the latest census, published by IBGE in 2010, more than 45 million people stated that they had at least one type of disability. The report also showed that, in São Paulo, the largest city in Brazil, only 9% of sidewalks are wheelchair-accessible.
Since then, improvements have been made but people with physical disabilities do not yet live in an adapted society and face urban mobility problems on a daily basis. To bring awareness to this issue, NGO Movimento SuperAção started the project “Without Ramps, Sidewalks Are Walls” (“Sem Rampa, Calçada é Muro” in Portuguese), created by agency Z+.
Inviting artists such as Apolo Torres, Bruno Mazola, Chivitz, Dinas Miguel, Felipe Palacio, Mazola Marcnou, Minhau, Negritoo, Tarik and Tito Ferrara, the initiative brought urban graffiti to obstacles that become walls for wheelchair users, seeking to encourage deep thought and to warn citizens. As of now, 14 works can be seen on São Paulo’s sidewalks, which are required by law to have access ramps.
They are located in neighborhoods such as Barra Funda, Bela Vista, Campo Belo, Chácara Santo Antônio, Jaraguá, Lapa, Liberdade, Mooca, Pinheiros, Sumaré and Vila São Francisco, as well as the nearby cities of Embu das Artes and São Caetano do Sul. The project also landed in Rio de Janeiro and Recife.
“In a world with infinite information trying to get our attention, the project directs citizens’ awareness to the key issue of architectural accessibility in a way that is playful and artistic. Art is one of the most beautiful sources that enable human beings to get in touch with themselves. We are encouraging inclusion in a way that only art can offer. We must touch people’s hearts because reason alone has not been enough,” said Billy Saga, Chairman of NGO Movimento SuperAção.
“The idea was based on the premise that a sidewalk is a wall for people who use wheelchairs. And graffiti art belongs on a wall. In that sense, we are not only highlighting the matter but also mapping points that must be adapted to ensure accessibility to everyone,” added Alexandre Vilela (a.k.a. Xã), the CCO at Z+.
To spread the word about the project, NGO Movimento SuperAção has an Instagram profile where all graffiti works can be seen, as well as their location (@CalçadaÉMuro). The goal is to get social media users to engage with the cause and help the action by sharing images and even visiting these sites, adding the hashtag #calçadaémuro.