In Spain there are almost four million people with a disability, according to the Survey on Disability, Personal Autonomy and Dependency Situations (AGE). In order to end discrimination against people with disabilities, activism emerged anti-capable. This fight has found in social networks a space to spread, educate and vindicate. On TikTok alone, videos about disabilities add up to more than a billion views.
“The disabled have been locked up and humiliated and now they treat us like superheroes”
Artemis, called Diverse Realities in social networks, she is an activist anti-capable and social work student who tries to make visible and educate about disability. “We have created a support network where we are learning, fighting and disseminating, which is the objective,” she says about the community generated.
Among the four million people with disabilities, more than half have significant mobility difficulties, according to data from EDAD. One of them is Oyirumactivist anti-able, body-positive and feminist. With more than 50 thousand followers on TikTok, the content creator uses social networks as a way to inform, humor and share her experiences as a person with a disability. “We forget that not everyone can leave home to claim. I remember the phrase that you can’t change the world from the sofa, but thanks to social media that’s no longer true”, says Oyirum.
“Activism saved my life,” says Oyirum, whose social networks are flagged with the motto Crippled Pride. “I had many ballots to have a bad time between being fat, disabled and belonging to a humble family, to be vulnerable before the world. When I found activism, I realized that I could also claim and change certain things, ”she relates. And he adds: “For me, fighting so that the one who comes after already has it fought justifies in part the pain I’ve been through. I invest the pain in changing things.”
Artemisa emphasizes that the existence of referents is a lever in favor: “Activism in social networks allows us to spread and make disability known. Sometimes, people who have just discovered their disability or mothers of children with disabilities have told us that we are a figure of reference. I wish I could have had a role model with a disability”.
“Activists with disabilities are the reflection that it can be done, that there is a future and resources,” agrees Oyirum. “I like to think that I have been an example for some people,” she says.
Both coincide in claiming the right to accessibility, to speak, to recognition, the right to assistance, to decent and quality work. “Let there be braille, let us be told, even healthcare is inaccessible. there are still many things to change”, says Artemisa. Another of the demands is to end infantilization: “We are infantilized in many areas, such as health or sexuality.”
Artemisa has dedicated several spaces on social networks to talk about the name of the group. “If we change how people with disabilities are talked about, we can go step by step and get more freedom,” she reflects. “In the academic field, there is a lot of insistence on using functional diversity. Personally, I don’t like it. Let everyone choose the term they prefer. We should think that we are the ones who live it and not the academics, ”says the activist.
Both Diverse Realities and Crippled Pride have spoken on some occasions about the importance of intersectionality between movements. Artemisa emphasizes that “it is time for disability to become pride”: “We need a voice that is ours. We need to be taken into account within the LGBT community.” “There are very few disabled people coming out, we still have that lack of information,” she says.
Young people are the main consumers of content on TikTok, the network used by Artemisa to spread the word. “Young people are very curious and interested”; “The new generations want to learn and if we work with it, we will also reach the elderly,” the two activists affirm. “In traditional media there is no close vision to the public, but thanks to social networks we can adapt the message, make it close and reach the public better”, comments diverse realities.
Social networks facilitate the adaptation of the message, but also direct interaction with the public. “I think it’s very important that people keep asking. Make people curious”, says Artemisa. “Social networks are a double-edged sword: videos that make people morbid or curious tend to go viral, but this also helps your message to get through,” adds Oyirum. “Although they have negative things, social networks have been the key for our message to be heard,” she says.
Artemisa invites people without disabilities to join the movement anti-capable: “You can support without losing your voice, denounce the lack of accessibility, protest so that the streets are fixed, ramps are put in…”. “The fight against disability is not incompatible with those who do not have it.” Crippled Pride agrees: “The revolution is collective. We need all hands to make things better.”