Get-hooked August 2, 2020
Job counsellor Faisal Ashraf uses humour to create awareness about disability
From lack of accessibility to sexuality, Faisal Ashraf does not flinch from taking up sensitive aspects related to disability. This employment counsellor and comedian uses cartoons on Instagram and Facebook to break widely held stereotypes about disability and disabled people.
They are laugh out loud, even stinging, and always quirky. Welcome to the world of @Faisalnama01 on Instagram and Facebook. This parallel universe on social media is where Faisal Ashraf, an employment counsellor with v-shesh, disability rights advocate, comedian and innovator, gives voice to the activist in him.
Faisal has a locomotor disability and uses a wheelchair. He has never let that come in the way of pursuing varied interests, including biking. So, it bothers him a lot that charity-based perceptions about disability and disabled people continue to persist.
Cartoons help break the ice
When someone talks about disability, most people tend to visualise it as something very grim and depressing. I wanted to break this stereotype with my caricatures and quirky humour. For me, it is a form of expression which I find to be much more effective. I feel humour has a far better recall. The message is conveyed in seconds without the need for a lengthy explanation. Conversely, if one has a message to be conveyed in words, cartoons can rather help emphasise that message. – Faisal Ashraf, Disability rights activist
Why cartoons one may ask. After all, you risk offending many people. Even people with disabilities may feel belittled. Cartoons, says Faisal, can act as ice breakers. “They have childhood associations with humour, happiness and fun, uniting audiences with the pleasure of shared communication”
Cartoons drawn from personal experiences
It’s also perhaps because humour helped Faisal deal with many of his own complexes about being a person with disability. “Earlier I used to hide from people because of my visible disability but since I added humour into it, it helps to deal with people. For example, earlier when people used to ask me about my disability, I was unable to answer but now I respond with humour. In fact, now I want people to come and ask me”.
Faisal’s aim is to make people laugh and introspect. “People with disabilities have been stigmatised throughout history. In many cultures, disability has been associated with curses, disease, dependence, and helplessness. I am using my cartoons as an alternate medium to break stereotypes related to disability and thereby assist in their inclusion and mainstreaming”.
The cartoons have attracted varies reactions, which inspire Faisal to push himself further. “I am amazed at how little people are aware of so the scope of generating awareness is huge”. Even the probing questions are welcome because ”the inquisitiveness pushes me to represent the complex emotional, physical, and social aspects of disability”.
Faisal takes inspiration for his cartoons from real-life encounters. He wants his messages to be inclusive across all disability types.
“My true victory would be if my work enables people across all disability types to stand up for themselves as well as for others, against prejudicial and stereotypical behaviours”.
- Deaf blogger Husna Naleer not shy of writing about sensitive issues affecting people with hearing impairments
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