Image Source: Rolling Stone

It becomes challenging to be a part of the society where despite being normal like others, one is ostracized from the society and often face rejection due to the communication barrier. To tackle this challenge, 25-year-old Hassan Ahmad, who is hard of hearing, took to social media to break this barrier by educating people about the use of sign language.

To educate people about sign language, Ahmad has emboldened many people that success doesn’t rely on your physical abilities but your dedication. Ahmad, who has lived 25 years of his life in this society, indicates all the challenges that hard of hearing face.

From the most common words to communicating at the workplace, Ahmad, through his videos, has helped recognize the existence of sign language in Pakistan. He started off with his YouTube channel, where he uploaded videos like other Vloggers, but the only difference was signs instead of words. To help the people not familiar with the signs, he used captions to explain and educate people.

Slowly but effectively, he got his message delivered and made the hard-of-hearing community feel included and well connected. Starting his YouTube channel in 2017, Ahmad now has 3380 subscribers, whereas he could get 19000 followers on Instagram. The quickest and most effective platform for Ahmad turned out to be TikTok.

Ahmad, who joined TikTok in April 2021, gained 125000 followers and around 1 million likes on his videos in just two months before TikTok was banned July 20, 2021, in Pakistan by Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA), reasoning the “continuous presence of inappropriate content on the platform and its failure to take such content down.”

Ahmad reached the mass audience on TikTok and was gaining followers multiple times faster than on the other social media platforms. TikTok is often wrongly criticized for only featuring dance and lip-sync videos in Pakistan. It has allowed Hassan to gather a mass audience and support the deaf communities of Pakistan.

After getting famous, Ahmad got his first show on a local TV channel and became the first Deaf TV host. Later, he also became the brand ambassador for Deaftawk, working for the Deaf to break the communication barrier.

The short-form video app TikTok, in recognition of Deaf Awareness Month, is spotlighting the creators who uplift this community on TikTok. Under TikTok’s initiative to make the app more accessible, it introduced the auto-captions feature that automatically generates subtitles, allowing viewers to read or listen to content.

The platform also encourages the user to use auto-captions as when content is more accessible, it helps reach a larger audience because more people can enjoy the content.

Ahmad is a prime example on this platform, who makes short videos to educate people about the different challenges deaf people face. He highlighted the challenges faced by deaf people at the workplace with a solution on how the people at work can help the deaf people using sign language.

He also educates the viewers about the most common words used in communication to help deaf people understand. From a few Islamic Azkar in sign language to occasion wishes, days, animals, birds, time, and songs in sign language, Ahmad also highlights how the people hard of hearing want to be called or engaged.

When social media is the primary source of reaching the mass audience, Ahmad TikTok seems to be the most effective tool to get the urban population and the rural population too due to the extensive popularity of the platform.

TikTok has faced several bans and restrictions in Pakistan without even knowing about its importance. The content making and creativity of TikTok users are astonishing, keeping in mind that this creativity was one of the ways for middle-class people to mitigate poverty and improving life outcomes.