140 Characters and the Power of the Collective Voice
|Associate Director, Amy Rauworth|
In 2009, news events were reported in real time. People captured photos of the plane crashing into the Hudson River and uploaded the pictures instantaneously. This became the first reports of the event that spread around the globe. During the election in Iran, the Iranian people were able to communicate to the rest of the world through Twitter when phone coverage and social networking sites were blocked. And just yesterday (January 12, 2010), Twitter proved again to be a powerful communication tool when a destructive earthquake rocked the island nation of Haiti. Tweets began immediately after the first quake, documenting images of the aftermath and connecting friends and family who, with phone lines down, wanted to make sure their loved ones were safe.
The Associated Press recently acknowledged the importance of social media by dedicating one of the four components of the AP Nerve Center to this topic. This just goes to show you that not everyone is tweeting about statements their dad makes, eating cereal, or doing nothing. In 140 characters, concise information can be relayed to the world in seconds. Respected individuals in their fields often choose to share their ideas and new findings with their fellow Tweeps. In fact, you can tag your tweets with the # mark and anyone in the world can search that topic and be able to reach out to you. The endless data streaming in from all over the world can direct you to great resources, and there is no pressure to respond back to anyone. The groups are self-selected and people are usually more respectful then what you might experience in other venues. Clay Shirky, author of 'Here Comes Everybody,' coined the phrase algorithmic authority, that basically means if everyone is focused on the same thing, it must be significant. Utilizing social media is an incredible opportunity to connect research to practice and connect local grass-roots efforts with a worldwide network to help improve the quality of life of individuals with disabilities.
There are, however, difficulties with accessibility on some of these popular social media websites. According to the Social Media Accessibility Review, Twitter does not list any formal accessibility policy. To register for an account on Twitter, there is a visual verification device that ensures that automated systems cannot register. As an alternative, a small print audio option is available, but may pose difficulty for individuals with vision impairments. Mouse use is required for replying to a tweet, making a tweet a favorite, and deleting a tweet. Twitter also does not allow resizing of text and this may be an additional barrier that must be considered. If you have useful information or experience with assistive technology, we urge you to visit Accessible Twitter at http://www.accessibletwitter.com/ to assist in resolving some of these issues. Additionally, Facebook has partnered with the American Foundation for the Blind to make the social network more accessible to the blind and visually impaired. Social media only gets better as more people use it. Seek out opportunities and engage in your right to communicate on this highly effective medium!
Compared to other social networks, there is a lack of disability-related groups on engines such as Facebook and Twitter. Let's get the word out on disability and get connected with others all over the world! Sign up now to post disability-related topics and help increase awareness, inclusion, and opportunities for people with disabilities!
If you need more proof of the media convergence that has occurred in the last decade, check out this infographic from the Economist, 'Did You Know?'
Facts that you will view include such numbers as:
- '10 million - the number of unique visitors that ABC, NBC, and CBS get every month collectively. These businesses have been around for a combined 200 years.'
- '250 million - the number of unique visitors that My Space, YouTube, and Facebook get every month collectively. None of these sites existed 6 years ago.'
Pretty amazing! So how can you put this new medium to work for you? Please sign up to 'follow' or 'become a fan' of The National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability (NCHPAD) and the Inclusive Fitness Coalition (IFC) to begin building your online social network.
- Go to the search page and type in 'Inclusive Fitness Coalition' or 'NCPAD,' then click 'become a fan'.
New NCHPAD YouTube Videos!
Go to http://www.youtube.com/user/ncpad to check out new video clips directly from NCHPAD as well as view some of our favorites from other sources. New on YouTube, we currently have the following clips available, but add us as one of your favorites and you'll be updated with the most current releases!
- Cerebral Palsy Assistive Devices
- Manual Muscle Test
- Range of Motion
- Evaluation Of A First Time Client With Cerebral Palsy
- Golf, Business Leaders And Golfers With Disabilities Talk About Golf Inclusion
For comments and feedback, please feel free to contact Amy Rauworth at firstname.lastname@example.org.