Forging a digital identity for learning disability campaigning

Forging a digital identity for learning disability campaigning

How can healthcare workers and people with a learning disability best collaborate to co-produce an online presence, for the purpose of campaigning to reduce stigma and discrimination?  Well I’m not entirely sure. But we’re going to have a go at it.

Our Get Me? campaign was developed when people with a learning disability joined forces with statutory and voluntary sector partners and in a shared mission to try and shift public attitudes. We had a simple idea – create a short film with people with a learning disability talking about stuff they like and enjoy – sport, food, socialising, reading the paper, listening to the radio and so on. Get Me?-  get a better understanding of learning disabilities is our message.

We’ve created posters, postcards and a website which will include stories from people who participated in the film. But all this is a bit static. So we started thinking about how we might use social media to get conversations going about the campaign and expand our engagement.

We recently had a great workshop with Abhay Adhikari, who is @gopaldass on Twitter, about digital identities onlin,e and we are using his formula to help us work through our ideas. We plan to create an online eco-system of people we can engage and influence who will be interested in our campaign sharing the messages more widely (for example campaigners, parents, family members, teachers etc.).

Our digital solution is a Facebook fan page. Firstly, we want to go where most people are. Secondly, we want to be able to post lots of photos and pictures (for example, photographs of stuff which is good in the city and stuff that isn’t so good if you have a learning disability). Thirdly, we want to be able to share content about things going on which are relevant to the campaign. Fourthly, we want to share updates about the campaign itself and get people having a conversation with us about the issues.

Our learning disability services at @leedsandyorkpft have a fabulous involvement team with a big open plan office that people with a learning disability can come along to, hang out and get involved. It’s a small step to have a laptop set up for people to create status updates. And staff are on hand to help and advise.

Our next step is to run a workshop for participants to think through how they want to make it work together. And agree some simple rules to keep everyone safe.

We have searched for social media sites run by people with a learning disability but haven’t found any. If you know of any or are involved yourself, I’d love to hear from you. We’re also very happy to share our learning and experience as it develops.


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  1. Great Idea – challenging stereotypes is always worthwhile.
    So when I read about a film about “stuff they like and enjoy – sport, food, socialising, reading the paper, listening to the radio and so on” I was a bit disappointed. When I see this list, i see the list that could have been written before we closed down the big hospitals and supported people to live independently. I don’t see a list of of stuff that gives people’s life an edge, a tang of belonging and exclusion, of triumph and disappointment.
    What about the contribution people make through their work, their experiences of recruiting and employing others? The brilliant and crap relationships people have, they care and support people offer to others, their kids, the carnival troupes that get organised, the campaigns, the bands people play in and the getting pissed at the weekends? The fights against disability hate crime, crap transport, and services that worry about people going on holiday alone? Or having complicated relationships that others disapprove of?
    I’m not calling you out, and visibility is visibility. And in an absence of mainstream media representation (Glee notwithstanding) anything feels like progress. I just wish our ambitions (I’m speaking as a service provider) kept up with those people who we’re supposed to be working with.
    As for social media types who also have a learning disability,I bet @petelg knows a few, as might @smclrk. I know individuals, I don’t know sites.
    Good luck with this, and I hope it builds momentum. But raise your sights. Get some bolshy people with a learning disability in the mix.
    The people who sorted out the taxis in Bradford
    The people who are protesting about the cuts in Leeds
    The people [with learning disabilities] who are providing leadership by standing up and being counted

    • Thanks for your comments Jon – really appreciate your thoughts and your suggestions. Did you check out the film itself? if not I’d urge you to do so and would value your thoughts on it. There are a real mix of people in the film, some of them campaigners, and they talk about a wide range of stuff (not just shopping and socialising). It is a safe and it is a gentle film and I think has a place in building a shared sense of empathy. It contains the things that people chose to share about themselves – some of them ordinary and some of them extraordinary. At the Film to Change night, as part of the Leeds International Film festival, a range of films were shown made by people with a learning disability. I agree that we need more stuff out there across the range from gentle to bolshy that show diversity and challenge the mainstream. ps. if you fancy getting involved in the campaign do give me a shout – I’d love it if you put a bit of challenge and left-field thinking in to raise the bar 🙂


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