There's no escaping the fact that we live in an age in which social media plays a large role in many aspects of our daily lives. For many in the disability community, online communication can lessen some of the physical and attitudinal barriers that are ever-present in the real world and provides a new level of access and influence for self-advocacy. One only needs to look at the numerous Facebook pages devoted to self-advocacy, online support groups, or the success of initiatives such as the Ice Bucket Challenge to see the immense advocacy opportunities that lie within our everyday social networking experience.
In the spirit of using social media to unite and inform the disability community, the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council (FDDC) has partnered with the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida (OPFF) to create the Florida Disability Resource Network, or FDRN. The FDRN is a Facebook-stationed source of aggregated news and information intended to raise awareness and support advocacy surrounding important issues facing persons with disabilities. Housing the network on Facebook is intended to encourage sharing and cross posting of information. FDRN chooses a monthly focus: October’s theme was employment in support of Disability Employment Awareness Month. November’s theme is veteran’s issues.
According to Kayla Sutherland with the OPFF, both organizations are eager for those within the disability community, and in particular self-advocates, to play an active role in the resource network’s continued development and implementation. Though OPFF currently manages most of the day-to-day operations of the FDRN Facebook page, the ultimate hope of the project would be for the network’s content to come directly from members of the disability community, such as self-advocates.
One can immediately advance the mission of the network by heading over to the FDRN's Facebook page and then “Liking” it. From there, visitors are encouraged to engage the content by commenting and sharing links. Both organizations would like to see the Facebook page become a place in which stakeholders and the public at large feel comfortable coming together to contribute their respective viewpoints.