Before and after the availability of the Internet:

Before the availability of the internet, people had the wrong idea of disabilities. For example- Before society became aware of what Autism really was, Autistic people were/ are socially victimised due to myths built around Autism

. For example- Before society became aware of what Autism really was, Autistic people were/ are socially victimised due to myths built around Autism

More than 3 in 10 autistic adults have been bullied at work 

However now with information, things are changing slowly.  with the easy access to information people became aware that  Autism has nothing to do with a person’s intelligence, in fact, Autism is not even a  learning disability.

“Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them”.This highlights that even though autistic people lack social skills, they can excel academically.  These labels and misconceptions  affected the self-esteem of people with learning disabilities,

Lucy Williams, from Wrexham, has Asperger’s and said for years she thought “there was something quite weird about me”.

Through the internet,  people have raised their voices and got a platform to get accurate information which has redefined the way people look at disabilities as people have become aware. By clearing these myths about learning disabilities are accepted and normalised by society and it has shaped the perceptions of people.

Today’s world is surrounded by knowledge and data available online. This reminds of my personal experience when I joined University. I explained to one of my university teachers about my learning disability. He researched about my disability on the internet to become more aware so he could guide me effectively. The only way he could access that information easily was because of the information available on the internet.

 The contribution of Social media :

when my article had first got published,  the response  from people I typically got ” I did not even know such a thing exists .” However, after I posted it on my social media accounts, suddenly people  became more aware of Turner Syndrome which is why engagement with social media is becoming increasingly important

A platform on the internet that helps in creating awareness is social media. .The internet and social media together help in establishing a person’s social identity, in the virtual world. People with disabilities of all ages are seen using different social media platforms;  Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. A lot of them use it in order to express themselves. They share their experiences and concerns such as education and employment not being available for people with disabilities.

Social Media has contributed to building a network. With social media, people with disabilities have slowly realised that they are not the only ones. There a lot of people who are going through the same experience as them. The internet has helped in providing a platform for creating an online community. It has given us the ability to connect with like-minded people.  It can be considered a safe space where they can share and relate to each other’s problems. People are able to connect with each other as they know the first-hand the struggles and challenges of living with a life-altering or psychological condition they go through. A sense of solidarity develops amongst these online communities as mediums such as Facebook and Twitter are key tools for people with learning disabilities to stay connected and engage with the world. Technology is becoming an ever-present part of our lives and if we do not support people with learning disabilities to safely use these tools then they will miss out on opportunities.

Interview with  people from the ‘Heart n Soul’company:

To explore the impact of social media, journalist Justin Spooner met two important people from Heart n Soul.  an award-winning creative arts company believe in the talents and power of people with learning disabilities.  His aim was to understand the impact of social media on people with learning disabilities. They explained that whenever they would create a Facebook page for a specific event like the Beautiful Octopus Club Festival. It is a multimedia club festival which celebrates learning disability culture held at the South Bank Centre. People who attend the event and make the initiative to converse with each other find each other on the event page and connect on social media so they are able to coordinate to meet again.  They said

“One simple Facebook page has been transformed into a  digital community for likeminded people to feel more understood and less lonely.”

This platform to socialise and network that the internet has provided is important for people with disabilities as it builds on their social skills. After events, people have even asked them to create a private Facebook group for them to connect, so that when there are aren’t events happening people can still talk to each other.

Importance of Social Media:

Though there have been cases of people with learning disabilities being mistreated or taken advantage of online. The truth is these things can happen to any of us, people with, the potential risks and learn how to avoid them just have to be reinforced and emphasized upon for people with learning disabilities. It is important to recognize the benefits of engaging with social media and understand how vital it is for people with learning disabilities to be able to connect with the world around them.

With so many people coming out with their disability stories, people have realised that having a learning disability is common and should be accepted and talked about and the internet gives you that platform. People have redefined their disability for themselves not letting it define them, it is something very inspiring to see.

Even though in the video below the speaker has a physical disability, I think what she is trying to convey is equally important and relevant to people with learning disabilities so please watch it !.