As a student, I love when things I learn in school become relevant in the real world. I'm happy to say that I am able to apply the things I learned in class multiple times a day. The course content I think most often of is from the equity and social justice class I took last semester. That class opened my eyes to so many things: the concept of privilege, the difference between equity and equality, various equity lenses, and how to take action when issues of inequity arise. I learned the importance of raising awareness about inequities. People fear what they don't understand, and you can't support a cause without knowing what it is.
Today I saw awareness of a cause raised in such a powerful way that I immediately opened a Google Doc and started writing this post. The awareness came from Tyler Oakley's latest YouTube video: 'Flirting in Sign Language' with guest Nyle DiMarco. Nyle won America's Next Top Model, and is currently on Dancing With The Stars. He is deaf, and in the video he teaches Tyler how to communicate using sign language.
It was already awesome enough to see Tyler, who close captions all of his videos because he believes accessibility is important, so eager to learn sign language: and the positivity of the video didn't stop there. Towards the end of the video, Tyler and Nyle introduce Nyle's DoSomething.Org campaign which aims to "fight the stigma against disability". By visiting this website, you can print out a template to share your best ability with the world. They have created the hashtag #WeAreAble to start a social media movement as well (yay for 21st century social justice!)
"I believe everyone should have access so that way they have equal opportunities in everything." - Nyle DiMarco
Everyone has a best ability, and I love that this video and campaign promote that. I can't remember exactly what inspired me to start doing this, but I strive to say "differently abled" instead of disabled. No one is lacking in ability - they just have a different ability. Unfortunately, in our society, there is still a stigma towards different physical and mental abilities. The thing is, though, that ability is a range. Everyone is different, and there is no "normal" ability. There's just your ability, and that's the only one that should matter.
The fact that Tyler Oakley and Nyle DiMarco are spreading the word about this is so amazing. Like I mentioned earlier, I truly believe that raising awareness is the first step towards creating positive change. The next step is acting on the positive changes that you are now aware of - and the #WeAreAble campaign is a great way to start on this.
The campaign is also really empowering: even if you feel that you are privileged in the way of ability, you still have a best ability to share with the world. I think my best ability is being positive, and I am positive that this is a campaign that could make a big difference in erasing the stigma around different abilities. What's your best ability?