With a global addiction to social media that is transforming the way in which we interact with each other, the deaf community stands to benefit more than most in this digital revolution.
Thanks to visuals, captions, and easy accessibility, social networks boost how the hard of hearing interact online for the better.
How Social Media Continues To Transform The Way The Hearing Impaired & Deaf Communicate
Not so long ago, the only way the profoundly deaf could interact would be via letter or face to face using sign language. Deaf clubs were a place to come together and connect with the community, helping to stave off feelings of isolation. These days, the clubs have been overtaken by online chatrooms and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, where visual communication makes the ability to hear irrelevant.
With a wide variety of social forums and interesting news pages to browse, social interaction can be found without having to leave the comfort of your home. We know more about each other than ever before, yet arguably talk less, now that information is freely available on the web.
So, what are the advantages of social media as a channel of communication for the hard of hearing and deaf?
Expanding Social Connections
There are no evident communication restrictions online - you can reach out and re-connect with friends, family, work colleagues and old school chums. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter are all popular social media platforms that enable you to respond immediately to what is going on around you.
Facebook groups and Twitter lists have become vital for the hard of hearing to find likeminded people. These groups help users share thoughts and experiences with others in similar situations. Helpful articles and opinions are valued and new people join these groups every day.
There are plenty of hearing loss groups you can join. Why not try the HearingLikeMe community-a group of people who talk about their experiences of being hearing impaired or deaf? Then there is #HearingLossHour - a monthly chat on Twitter or #deafiscool - a site designed to educate and inform. You can even find groups based on location or find pages that share captioned news articles.
Social Media: A Universal Language
You aren't defined or excluded because of being deaf online. You can generate a wide social network with no evident restriction. Like your hearing friends, you can communicate via video or the written word. Subtitles and video captioning have become commonplace.
Quoted in Social Media Today, Ryan Commerson, a media strategist for Communication Service for the Deaf,believes "Social media has changed the way people interact, and their notions of how they relate to each other," he goes on to say "And more people prefer texting over talking on the phone, which is definitely advantageous for me and other deaf people".
Removing Social Isolation
Loss of hearing can make you feel cut off from the world around you. According to John Hopkins Medicine, hearing loss can contribute to social isolation:"You may not want to be with people as much, and when you are you may not engage in conversation as much." As a visual tool, social media enables deaf users to actively participate and form friendship groups with confidence.
Available 24-hours a day, new friendships can be formed not just within your hometown, but from around the world, all with a few clicks of a button. Social media frees us to reach out, give and receive support from others regardless of geography. We can share posts and find common ground despite our differences. The smallest of social interaction with our online network of friends can make you feel less alone.
Write Your Own Story
Social media helps to give millions of us a voice online. For those who love writing, it is possible to use social media as a platform to reach out to others and challenge any misconceptions. Why not create your own blog, so you can share insights and experiences? Ellie Parfitt, a profoundly deaf writer created Deafie Blogger,where she discovered her love of writing and connected to others who could identify with her.
According to socialmediatoday.com,the new corporate mission statement from Facebook is "To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together". Thanks to Facebook and other social platforms, the deaf and hard of hearing community are now able to raise awareness, educate and interact on an even footing with the rest of the hearing world.
A Word of Caution...
Of course, we must not forget the importance of personal interaction. As the BBC News article warns, "A more general concern is that Facebook's popularity could lead to more deaf clubs closing, and fewer opportunities for people to meet and sign with each other face-to-face". Although communicating face-to-face is still enormously important, it is widely agreed that overall, the benefits of social media outweigh the risk. We are left to find a balance, between real life and our online presence - after all, we must embrace change. With the growth of digital technology, who knows what will come next!
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