This year's International Women's Month theme #BreakTheBias calls the public to picture a world where differences are valued and celebrated.
Photo via TikTok (@anissa.jailani)
We are living in a world where women are forging change via technology and sustainability in communities. This includes leveraging on the leading destination short-form mobile video, TikTok, to allow viewers to get a glimpse and be part of the world of the hearing-impaired community through sign language.
As a platform that celebrates diversity, TikTok has become home to inspiring creators who advocate for the hearing impaired using hashtags like #deaftiktok and #signlanguage. These hashtags have garnered over 1.1 billion and 3.1 billion views respectively to date and reflects the bridge that is being built between the communities.
In Malaysia, 24-year-old TikTok creator residing in Perak, Anissa Jalani, or more fondly known as Cik Nis, dedicates her platform to work towards a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination by educating viewers on how to sign and communicate with others using the Malaysian Sign Language or better known as Bahasa Isyarat Malaysia (BIM).
Being an individual with hearing impairment, Cik Nis understands first-hand how it can affect many aspects of life, such as education and employment opportunities, social isolation, and emotional distress. This is because society perceives them as disabled due to their unique communication needs.
Determined to break this misconception, Cik Nis saw the opportunity to make communication a breeze between the hearing and hearing impaired community by helping them communicate with each other by first teaching them greetings, salutations, and verbs that are commonly used in daily life such as "Hi", "Good afternoon", "Thank you", "Durian", just to name a few.
Once her TikTok community became accustomed to learning simple words, they started reaching out to Cik Nis having her teach them more complex words and sentences based on their daily happenings, such as self introductions, "Can I have a plastic bag?", "Yummy", "I love my family", and many more.
"My dream has always been to be able to communicate freely with everyone despite my hearing impairment. I'm glad that TikTok has become an avenue for me to express myself through my content and enabled me to engage with various generations of users and share my knowledge on BIM.
"I hope that with more people aware of BIM, the hearing-impaired community will be more understood and included in society and in turn have better job opportunities and a better future," said Cik Nis.
TikTok has continued their effort into investing in products and tools to help make the platform accessible to everyone. This includes their introduction of auto captions to help people who are deaf or hard of hearing better use and enjoy TikTok.
These auto captions automatically generate subtitles, allowing viewers to read or listen to one's displayed content.