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Mace & Crown | May 25, 2017

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The Disability March: Employing Social Media to Get the Word Out

Audra Reigle
Assistant Technology Editor

Over the weekend almost 500,000 people in the Women’s March shook Washington, D.C. There were also several affiliated marches in cities across the U.S. and around the world, including one in Norfolk. For those whose disabilities prevented them from making it out to one of the marches, a Disability March was created so that everyone could have a voice.

The Disability March was started by Sonya Huber, Sarah Einstein and Andrea Scarpino, among others. It was started to allow those whose physical or mental disabilities prevented them from attending the march in Washington on Jan. 21.

Those that were interested in participating in the virtual march were asked to submit a photo and information about themselves, according to Mashable. A post from the Disability March said that they “had 1,654 entries published, and thousands more we could not process” as of 7 p.m. on Jan. 21. They have encouraged those interested in keeping up with the Disability March beyond the initial event that coincided with the Women’s March on Washington to sign up for their mailing list.

Volunteers are the force behind the Disability March, and it is a co-sponsor of the Women’s March on Washington, according to Mashable. Some testimonials were posted prior to Jan. 21, but many were saved for the big event on Saturday. Those behind the Disability March are trying to continue making an impact beyond the Women’s March on Washington by “coming up with activist-oriented tasks for participants, designed with various levels of ability and comfort in mind.”

In addition to their WordPress blog, the Disability March also maintains a Facebook page and Twitter account, so interested participants can stay engaged with the March’s activities.

The Women’s March on Washington was organized by Teresa Shook following the Nov. 8 election, according to Wired. Her Facebook event received approximately 10,000 responses by the following morning in a clear example of how much influence social media can have on protests and movements, because an estimated 470,000 people marched, according to the New York Times. The initial event by Shook started many sister marches across the U.S. and around the world.

While the Women’s March on Washington encouraged those attending to march for a variety of causes, organizers have let their non-profit partners take over in organizing marches for specific issues. A Planned Parenthood protest is scheduled for Feb. 11. This protest is to support the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Their website contains information on how to set up and promote an event via Facebook. The national team organizing the protest is even planning to share those Facebook events on the website so they can gain even more attention.

The use of social media allows people to spread the word about their events much more efficiently. When one person sees the event, they have the option of sharing it with their friends. Their friends can share it with their own friends and the cycle continues. Through the internet, protests and marches can be shared with others around the world and allow for those who are unable to be at the big event to organize their own smaller events and show their support.