Social media has been connecting people since its inception. Through platforms like MySpace and LiveJournal, people with similar interests were able to link up virtually and begin creating online communities. Over the years, these platforms have evolved to become more inclusive and expand communities to wider audiences. One community that has been positively impacted by the advent of social media is the diversability community.
Promoting Disability Awareness
One of the most important things that people are using social media for today is creating and promoting awareness around a variety of issues. Neither mental nor physical disabilities have been left out of these conversations.
Businesses and individuals alike promote special months or weeks dedicated to specific disabilities, ranging from depression and anxiety to multiple sclerosis and arthritis. It gives people the opportunity to learn about these disabilities and garner better understanding and empathy for them.
It also helps to normalize disabilities to begin removing the stigma that affects so many living with different abilities.
Providing a Variety of Formats for Consumption
Another huge benefit of social media for the diversability community is the accessibility that it provides. There are many formats available on social media, from written to video and everything in between. Moreover, most screen readers work well with social media platforms.
More people who are using video as a tool on social media are also taking the time to add subtitles to the videos, allowing hearing impaired and Deaf individuals access to more content. Platforms such as Twitter and Instagram provide the ability for creators to add alt text to images.
Alt text works with screen readers for people who are low sight or blind so they know what the image contains or is about. These platforms are continuing to work towards even further accessibility for more individuals to be able to connect across the globe.
Developing Interconnected Communities
One of the top community builders on social media is Facebook Groups. Groups allow people who have similar interests to come together to discuss those interests and share information. For people with disabilities, it gives them the opportunity to talk about tips for dealing with certain issues, create change, and support each other.
Groups also exist for allies and advocates to help them organize and connect with people across the country to create better community outreach. Challenges like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that raise money for specific disabilities often come out of groups just like this.
When more people are able to come together to work for the disability community, it results in better understanding and outreach efforts.
Easier Access to Critical Information
During COVID-19, people in all different disability communities needed to know how the pandemic would affect them specifically. Having access to social media meant that individuals with disabilities could access information from the government, health organizations, and disability advocates alike in real time.
American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters were sharing information on their pages in ASL, so that Deaf people could easily learn about regulations and what actions they could take to stay safe.
Social media plays a huge role in connecting people in diversability communities. From building advocacy groups to getting access to important information, social media is critical. If your government organization still does not have social media, it is time to take a deeper look.