OrbiTouch: Social Media and the Next Generation of Advocacy

It’s no secret: Here at orbiTouch, we are huge advocates for providing communication technology to individuals with special needs.  We try to do our part by raising awareness through our business, but getting involved with a worthy cause—whether it is disability related or not—is easier than ever.

In the past, there was no other option besides picking up a sign and picketing the front lines if you wanted to be heard.  Nowadays, in the advent of social media ubiquity, it’s as easy as clicking the “Like” button.

Social media advocacy campaigns are often criticized because of the little effort they require.  Naysayers claim participating in social media to promote a cause is an extension of Gen Y’s ambivalence towards charity work.  In fact, the term “slacktivism” has been recently popularized, describing the tendency to half-heartedly interact with a cause online rather than actually volunteering or donating.

However, the slacktivism argument, in my opinion, is a short sighted.  Social media is a great way to engage people on a non-invasive level.  It’s the first rung on the ladder of engagement.  First, you get people’s attention through social media.  Then, you compel them to take the next step, whether it is signing a petition, volunteering, or donating.

In a recent article on Mashable.com, Ben Rattray, the founder of Change.org (i.e. the organization responsible for the successful viral Internet campaign for President Barack Obama), says, “The goal here is social change, it’s not to make things difficult. It may be really difficult to go protest in person, but it might be more effective to mobilize a hundred other people using the web to simultaneously send letters to a single target.”

As I said, orbiTouch’s main focus is providing means of communication for people with disabilities, and social media has been a great way for us to reach out to new groups.  A couple of months ago when I started doing social media on behalf of orbiTouch, I found the Warrior Transition Battalion in Ft. Bliss, Texas, a center that teaches disabled veterans computer skills, through a Facebook group interested in helping wounded soldiers.  I thought their program was a great fit for our company, and after exchanging Facebook posts and emails, our company ended up donating an orbiTouch Keyless Keyboard for them to try out.  I have since learned that there is a sizable population of wounded veterans stationed in Ft.Bliss who now have access to this technology and are already having success with using our keyboard.  If we hadn’t been able to start the conversation through a mutual interest Facebook group, we probably would never have crossed paths.

So, how do you get involved?  That’s up to you.  If you are interested in working with special needs or wounded veteran groups, please visit our Facebook page,http://www.facebook.com/orbitouch, for information on accessing a variety of worthy causes.