The Power of Social Media to Affect Disability Policy
Raising a child with a disability can sometimes feel isolating. Parents frustrated with policies and laws affecting their child may believe that there is little they can do to make their voices heard. In today’s Internet culture, it’s easier than ever before for the disabled and their families to come together and affect change on a large scale. Social media activism has the power to bring together individuals to present a united front against discriminatory practices.
In London, a Twitter-driven campaign known as “We are Spartacus” has almost single-handedly put the issue of cuts in disability living allowance back in the spotlight. The viral campaign, orchestrated by a small group of disability advocates, had an immediate impact on the media and even resulted in lost votes in London’s governing body. The campaign relied on the power of social media to give power to tens of thousands of people who are typically excluded from mainstream media and politics.
Closer to home, 17-year old Carly Fleischmann from Toronto recently sparked a social media storm when she shared her experience on an American Airlines flight with her nearly 26,000 Twitter followers and 42,000 Facebook fans. The girl, who is nonverbal and relies on an iPad to communicate, was required to stow her tablet for takeoff and landing. Her supporters flooded the American Airlines Facebook page with messages demanding an exception to their electronic device policy in cases involving disabled passengers. Fleischmann is currently working to get a meeting with representatives of American Airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration to discuss the matter.
There is certainly no shortage of causes for disability advocates to rally behind, including cuts to special education funding, access to care, and equality in education and employment opportunities. By allowing individuals to unite their voices behind a common cause, social media puts the focus on issues that might otherwise have been overlooked by mainstream media. Visit the CP Family Network Twitter or Facebook pages to connect with other CP families and make your voice heard!