I would venture to say that for the disabled people of the world, most spaces could do more as far as accessibility.
Abled people don’t spend enough time considering the needs of those who grow up with different experiences, and the result is spaces that don’t work as well as they should for every single user.
19-year-old Scarlet Waters has 3.6 million TikTok followers, and like other successful Gen Z influencers, her account is full of comedy sketches, dances, front-facing camera rants, and plenty of trend hopping.
Unlike many other successful influencers, Scarlet is deaf in both ears. She uses a cochlear implant to help her hear, and she’s one of the few hearing-impaired social media users who speaks up about how difficult it can be.
Scarlet signs through all of her TikToks, for her hearing impaired viewers, but it was a post titled “Deaf Ears in a Hearing World” that became one of her most viral hits – it’s racked up more than 30 million views so far.
In it, Scarlet takes us with her on an average day of running errands, going to school, etc, and along the way, we witness her having to constantly explain her disability or find ways around not being able to hear like the average person.
The TikTok is completely silent, and that’s what seems to be really getting most people’s attention.
One top commenter wrote “This silence is LOUD,” while others said the video opened their eyes, or made them more appreciative of their own, less complicated existence.
Scarlet told Buzzfeed News that she wanted to make the video because there seemed to be so many people who really don’t understand the need for better accessibility.
“The most surprising aspect for me was how many people didn’t truly think about what it means to be deaf. I feel like a lot of people knew, like, OK we can’t hear.
But I don’t think they realized how much they depend on their hearing for little things and the fact that we’re not able to do those things.
…Especially things we all do on a daily basis, such as simply scrolling through social media. “
Her goal is to get the big tech companies to take the needs of people like her more seriously.
“The most popular apps are not accessible to us: YouTube does automatic closed captions, but they’re not correct and the words will be all over the place. Instagram does not provide closed captions, so think of all the educational videos you guys see.
We miss out on the important events daily. TikTok, the most popular app out right now, has nothing!”
Let’s take a look.
Scarlet hopes, too, that she’ll be an inspiration or a role model for other young influences with disabilities of some kind.
Here’s hoping people begin to listen, and that more young influences begin to see their can use their reach for good, as well as just likes.