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Disability Advocacy and Twitter: Why Use it?

Disability Advocacy and Twitter: Why Use it?

This article is aimed at youth with disabilities who will be attending the My Future, My Vote Summit organized by Yo! Disabled and Proud and the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers on May 25, 2016, Sacramento, CA. Alice Wong, Gregg Beratan, and Andrew Pulrang will be giving a presentation about #CripTheVote and a portion of our talk will focus on usage of social media.

Other folks who are curious about Twitter and disability advocacy may be interested as well.

Introduction

#CripTheVote is an online campaign that uses Twitter to have conversations about voting and disability issues. We also have blog posts and a Facebook group where we publish information about our upcoming events and news.

Social media is term that’s used a lot–you might hear about Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram as examples. Broadly speaking, social media are websites or apps that allow users to post information (text, photos, audio) and share it to the public or within a specific network of friends/colleagues.

This article will give a describe the pros and cons of using a social media platform such as Twitter and how to get started for first-time users.

Pros and Cons

Here are a few pros of using social media if you are a person with a disability and interested in disability issues:

  • Most accounts are free*
  • You can connect and find others with similar interests from all over the world
  • You can learn about things that are happening in real-time
  • You can learn about things that challenge you and make you think differently about disability issues  
  • You can share your thoughts widely to the public and they can influence and impact other people
  • It can help build relationships, both in-person and online
  • People can report/document what’s happening around them

It’s very trendy and can be fun but social media not everyone’s cup of tea. And that’s ok! Here are a few cons and limitations to social media:

  • Although technically free*, some social media sites have ownership of the content you post, collect data on your usage, and feature advertising that you cannot opt out of
  • Not everyone has access to the Internet, a smartphone, or a computer
  • Not everyone is comfortable learning how to use social media
  • Not everyone likes talking with people you can’t see face-to-face
  • It can be a huge “time suck,” taking you away from other things important to your life
  • Like “real life,” there is the potential for bullying and harassment on social media which can be a serious problem
  • Accessibility issues continue to create barriers to some users with disabilities

For more pros and cons: http://socialnetworking.procon.org/#pro_con

Why does #CripTheVote use Social Media?

With all the cons and drawbacks to using social media, we decided that #CripTheVote will be an online campaign that takes place primarily on Twitter for several reasons:

  • It takes a lot of resources and energy to organize in-person events
  • We can have conversations with a wide swath of people with disabilities by using the #CripTheVote hashtag and having organized Twitter chats on specific issues
  • It’s relatively easy to use social media and doesn’t require any special training or preparation (just practice!)
  • For three people who don’t do this for a living or with any professional connections to the political world, Twitter is one way to insert ourselves into the broader policy/election discussion without any interference

 

We understand that our campaign will not reach everyone, but there are many other campaigns that are not online with similar goals. There’s something for everyone and there’s no wrong way to be an advocate.

What is a “Twitter Chat?” And while we’re at it, what’s a “hashtag?”

A Twitter Chat is a public discussion that uses a hashtag as a virtual meeting point on twitter. A hashtag is a way of making tweets more easily searchable. By using the hashtag (in this case #CripTheVote) one can find all of the tweets on a particular subject in one place by either clicking on the hashtag or using twitter’s search function. For an example of what a Twitter chat looks like, check out this example by Ruti Regan. It’s very helpful explaining the elements of a typical Twitter chat: https://storify.com/RutiRegan/examplechat

For more about #CripTheVote and frequently asked questions: http://disabilitythinking.com/faqs

To give you a sense of the kinds of Twitter chats hosted by Gregg Beratan, Andrew Pulrang and Alice Wong (the co-partners of #CripTheVote) check out this recent link that summarizes their recent chat on voter accessibility:

https://storify.com/SFdirewolf/cripthevote-chat-on-voter-access-suppression

You can find all of our chats here:

https://storify.com/SFdirewolf/

Getting Started on Twitter

If you are curious and want to try Twitter for the first time, the first thing you need is an email address. Here are a few links that’ll help you get set up:

Signing up with Twitter

New user Frequently Asked Questions

Getting started with Twitter

Using Twitter

This 2012 article also gives useful tips on using Twitter for beginners: http://mashable.com/2012/06/05/twitter-for-beginners/#0tlbAHJfqEq7

You can be as involved or uninvolved on social media. Here are some things you can do with Twitter:

  • Follow different organizations and people and read their tweets
  • Send tweets to specific individuals when you use their Twitter handle (that is, their username/account)
  • Re-tweet (share) any tweets that you like
  • Look at various conversations happening in popular culture or current events such as #BlackLivesMatter or #AbleismExists
  • Tweet links of articles or websites that you like
  • Tweet messages or images you want to share
  • And much more

Checking out #CripTheVote without Twitter

You don’t need a Twitter account if you want to follow the conversation happening in real-time. At any time, you can check this link: http://twubs.com/CripTheVote. This link will show all the tweets that use the CripTheVote hashtag and you can scroll up and down to read all the comments.

Screenshot from TWUBS.com that shows the live feed of #CripTheVote tweets on Twitter happening in real-time
Screenshot from TWUBS.com that shows the live feed of #CripTheVote tweets on Twitter happening in real-time

Logging in to Twitter: App for smartphone or desktop

If you use a smartphone, you’ll need to download the Twitter app. This is what you’ll see from an iPhone when you go to the App Store and search for “Twitter”:

Screenshot of the App Store on an iPhone showing the Twitter app
Screenshot of the App Store on an iPhone showing the Twitter app

 

If you want to tweet from your computer, you can log in here, at https://twitter.com/

 

Screenshot of a desktop computer open to the main page for Twitter.com
Screenshot of a desktop computer open to the main page for Twitter.com

 

Once you log in with the account that you created, you will see this (example of Alice’s Twitter account on her computer):

 

Screenshot of the main page of @SFdirewolf's account on Twitter
Screenshot of the main page of @SFdirewolf’s account on Twitter

Read the various tweets people are sharing.

In the search box at the upper right side of the Twitter website or app, type a hashtag, a name, a keyword of whatever you’re looking for. If you enter #CripTheVote, you’ll see this page:

https://twitter.com/search?q=%23CripTheVote&src=typd

 

Screenshot showing the Top Tweets tab for tweets using the #CripTheVote hashtag on Twitter
Screenshot showing the Top Tweets tab for tweets using the #CripTheVote hashtag on Twitter

You can Read ‘Top’ tweets that are most popular and shared. ‘Live’ tweets show the most recent ones, and other tabs that with News, Photos, and Videos.

Tweeting with the #CripTheVote hashtag: Selfie edition

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to tweet a photo or message using the #CripTheVote hashtag. Totally up to you, but it might be a fun first-step in connecting with people with disabilities who are interested in voting and current events.

 

Visibility of people with disabilities is important. Selfies/photos are a wonderful way to share a brief message and say, “Hey, I’m here and this is what matters to me!” Saying who you are and what you care about is a form of advocacy that can lead to a broader community.

Take a photo!

Photos or short videos can make powerful statements. If you’re at the Voting Summit, feel free to complete the sentence, “I vote because…” and take a photo of you with a sign that will be available at the event (or use any piece of paper).

You can take one during the Yo! Voting Summit or afterward. You can use the Twitter app or their desktop version.  Here is Alice’s photo from her iPhone:

Image of an Asian American woman in a wheelchair holding a white piece of paper that says, "I Vote because...the Medicaid poverty trap needs to end."
Image of an Asian American woman in a wheelchair holding a white piece of paper that says, “I Vote because…the Medicaid poverty trap needs to end.”

Tweet Your Photo with a Message!

This is a step-by-step for iPhone users. It might be different for Android or other phones.

Step 1: Open your Photos on your phone

Screenshot of an iPhone's Photo library with an image of an Asian American woman in a wheelchair holding a white piece of paper that says, "I Vote because...the Medicaid poverty trap needs to end."
Screenshot of an iPhone’s Photo library with an image of an Asian American woman in a wheelchair holding a white piece of paper that says, “I Vote because…the Medicaid poverty trap needs to end.”

Step 2: Select the photo you want to post on Twitter by clicking on it

Screenshot of an iPhone's photo app with one image selected among a row of other photos. Below are options to share the image on various apps, via text, email and other sites.
Screenshot of an iPhone’s photo app with one image selected among a row of other photos. Below are options to share the image on various apps, via text, email and other sites.

 

Step 3: Below your selected photo, you can see the options you have for sharing your photo. Swipe left or right until you see the Twitter icon and select it.

Screenshot of an iPhone's photo app with one image selected among a row of other photos. Below are options to share the image on various apps, including Twitter.
Screenshot of an iPhone’s photo app with one image selected among a row of other photos. Below are options to share the image on various apps, including Twitter.

Step 4: A small window will open that is connected to your Twitter account (and app). Type your message. Remember, you can only type a message no more than 140 characters (including spaces). Be sure to use the #CripTheVote hashtag

Screenshot of an iPhone that selected a photo to post on Twitter. A small window appears with a keyboard underneath
Screenshot of an iPhone that selected a photo to post on Twitter. A small window appears with a keyboard underneath

 

Step 5: After you type your message, click ‘Post’ on the upper right-hand corner of the window. Below is an example of Alice’s photo. She typed the same message on her sign so it’s accessible to all users.

Screenshot of a window with text written in a Tweet that says partially, "#Medicaid poverty trap needs to end." Below are a series of hashtags: #crip #CripTheVote #CrippleTeam #CrippingTheMighty
Screenshot of a window with text written in a Tweet that says partially, “#Medicaid poverty trap needs to end.” Below are a series of hashtags: #crip #CripTheVote #CrippleTeam #CrippingTheMighty

 

When you type your message, sometimes you’ll see different hashtags that match the one you’re about to type. For example, when Alice started typing the hashtag, #CripTheVote appeared in a list. You can select it without typing the whole thing.

Step 6: This is what the tweet looks like that’s ready to post. Click “Post.”

Screenshot of a window with a Tweet that says, "I Vote because...the Medicaid poverty trap needs to end. #CripTheVote" Next to it is a photo attached w/ the image of an Asian American woman in a wheelchair holding a white piece of paper with the same message.
Screenshot of a window with a Tweet that says, “I Vote because…the Medicaid poverty trap needs to end. #CripTheVote” Next to it is a photo attached w/ the image of an Asian American woman in a wheelchair holding a white piece of paper with the same message.

Step 7: After clicking “Post,” open your Twitter app on your phone.

Screenshot of an iPhone with a six rows of various icons indicating apps and other functions of a smartphone.
Screenshot of an iPhone with a six rows of various icons indicating apps and other functions of a smartphone.

Step 8: This is what it looks like from Alice’s Twitter account. Now it is public for all to see. If you click on the tweet, you can see the entire image.

Screenshot of a Twitter app that's open showing a tweet by Alice Wong, @SFdirewolf Screenshot of a window with text written that says "I vote because the #Medicaid poverty trap needs to end #CripTheVote" Including an photo of her holding a sign with the same text.
Screenshot of a Twitter app that’s open showing a tweet by Alice Wong, @SFdirewolf Screenshot of a window with text written that says “I vote because the #Medicaid poverty trap needs to end #CripTheVote” Including an photo of her holding a sign with the same text.

 

If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can now add descriptions (alternative text) to any images you post using Twitter: https://support.twitter.com/articles/20174660

Instagram

If you’re more into Instagram, you can do the same thing and share on Facebook or Flickr at the same time. The steps are similar–just follow these step-by-step images.

Step 1: Open Instagram

Screenshot of an Instagram app for Alice Wong, @alicatsamurai. Below are small images of her instagram images.
Screenshot of an Instagram app for Alice Wong, @alicatsamurai. Below are small images of her instagram images.

 

Step 2: Select the middle button in blue at the bottom of the screen. Select an image from your photo library (from your phone).

Screenshot of Instagram with an image open from the phone's Camera Roll showing a photo of an Asian American woman in a wheelchair holding a white piece of paper that says, "I Vote because...the Medicaid poverty trap needs to end."
Screenshot of Instagram with an image open from the phone’s Camera Roll showing a photo of an Asian American woman in a wheelchair holding a white piece of paper that says, “I Vote because…the Medicaid poverty trap needs to end.”

Step 3: Type your caption. Instagram is great because you can write longer messages. Don’t forget the hashtag!!

Screenshot of Instagram with a message window open and a small keyboard below. There's a photo of an Asian American woman in a wheelchair holding a white piece of paper. The caption for the Instagram post: "I Vote because...the Medicaid poverty trap needs to end. #CripTheVote"
Screenshot of Instagram with a message window open and a small keyboard below. There’s a photo of an Asian American woman in a wheelchair holding a white piece of paper. The caption for the Instagram post: “I Vote because…the Medicaid poverty trap needs to end. #CripTheVote”

 

You can tag your friends on Instagram or post the same image and caption to other social media sites connected that you might use such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr.

Note: I don’t select Twitter when I use Instagram because the image doesn’t appear on Twitter, just a link back to Instagram.

Step 4: When you’re done, click “Share.”

Instagram window that says, Share To. Below is the image, the caption, and several options of tagging people, adding location, and posting directly to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Flicker. Below is a Share button.
Instagram window that says, Share To. Below is the image, the caption, and several options of tagging people, adding location, and posting directly to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Flicker. Below is a Share button.

 

Ta-da!

Here’s the same message I tweeted on Twitter, but this time on Instagram using the same hashtag. No matter what social media site you use, people can find similar posts on under this keyword.

Screenshot of a recent Instagram post by user alicatsamurai showing a photo of an Asian American woman in a wheelchair holding a white piece of paper that says, "I Vote because...the Medicaid poverty trap needs to end." The caption below the message has the same text in the sign.
Screenshot of a recent Instagram post by user alicatsamurai showing a photo of an Asian American woman in a wheelchair holding a white piece of paper that says, “I Vote because…the Medicaid poverty trap needs to end.” The caption below the message has the same text in the sign.

 

Conclusion

Have fun with social media if you already use it or are interested in trying it! There’s no wrong way to do it and you’ll get the hang of it eventually. If you’re shy, you can post message without a photo.

It’s up to you how much you want to reveal. You are in control.

Don’t Be a Stranger!

We’d love to hear from you! Feel free to email us: DisabilityVisibilityProject@gmail.com

Or if you’re on Twitter, you can follow Andrew, Gregg, and Alice:

@AndrewPulrang @GreggBeratan @SFdirewolf

One thought on “Disability Advocacy and Twitter: Why Use it? Leave a comment

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