Advocacy campaign targets TikTok videos that mock disabled people
Every other week, one hears of videos on popular social networking app TikTok that are mocking and disrespectful towards people with disabilities on popular social media platforms. A new campaign called Disability is Not a Joke is out to change that.
An #AutismChallenge campaign meant to build awareness about the condition instead becomes a platform that mocks people with the condition. And then there were the series of videos where non-disabled people mocked people with disabilities.
We are talking about TikTok which was most recently in the news for allowing blatantly insensitive videos about disabled people on its site. While TikTok may be in the news more often than others, many other social media sites have been called out for this as well. Well, they now have a new campaign to contend it. Its called ‘Disability Is Not a Joke’ and has been launched by Raindrops Foundation.
Inclusive social media content needed
A multi-lingual online advocacy campaign, Disability is Not a Joke aims to make social media users more sensitive towards people with disabilities and encourage more inclusive user generated content as well.
The campaign does this through videos of people across disability types. This includes people with vision impairments, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, and muscular dystrophy. One of the videos is an appeal by international Paraswimmer Satendra Singh Lohiya.
Members of Raindrops Foundation say such a campaign is urgently needed. “Such videos reduce the morale of people with disabilities”, says Sana Samad, an ONGC employee who is visually impaired. “This is especially true in the current scenario where social distancing makes daily like even more difficult”.
“Differently abled persons struggle daily due to inconvenient commute or inaccessible infrastructure”, says Zoya in one of the campaign videos. “Imagine the heartbreak they must feel when they come across content like this”.
Videos affect morale of disabled people
Through simple, emotive and direct statements like this, the campaign aims to appeal to the sense of fairness and justice in people, disabled and non-disabled.
To make the campaign a truly inclusive one, we just didn’t limit it to voices from the disabled community. We also had videos from non-disabled members, as that is where the conversation needs to be initiated. – Tapas Bharadwaj, Head, Inclusivity Affairs, Raindrops Foundation
The immense popularity these videos enjoy is both shocking and disturbing. “The fact that these videos have been shared millions of times just goes to show the lack of empathy for differently abled people in our society”, says Chandni Ahuja, President, Raindrops Foundation. “Content creators need to understand that it is not okay to create humour at the cost of someone’s dignity. Similarly, audiences need to realise the impact such videos can have on those who are being laughed at”.
Disability is Not a Joke seems to have touched a chord with many people. However, there are some questioning whether such mocking videos have any serious impact.
“While we have received an overwhelmingly positive response, there were a couple of comments which failed to understand the serious ramifications of such content”, points out Chandni. “One commentator said that viewers are not laughing at the disability, but the fact that people are ready to even become “loola-langda” (derogatory term for physically disabled people) for money.
This mindset needs to change, adds Tapas. “Why are persons with disabilities seen as lesser beings?”
Clearly Disability is Not a Joke is out to go deeper and effect a deeper, more long term behavioural change.
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