At TikTok, we're inspired every day to see the strong, diverse communities that are forming and building connections. This includes the deaf and hard of hearing community, and with September recognized as Deaf Awareness Month, we're spotlighting some of the creators who are sharing their unique perspectives and making a positive impact.
Meet @bree.k.jones (Bree Jones), @scarlet_may.1 (Scarlet May), and @slntwrlddd (Otis Jones). These three creators are using their creativity, voices and platforms to advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing community both on and off TikTok.
Get to know more about each creator below, including their tips for making your content more accessible!
Meet the Creators
@bree.k.jones (Bree Jones)
Bree is an ASL interpreter, producer and writer. She is passionate about educating the hearing world about the culture and language of the deaf community, so that hearing people can recognize and act upon things that they may not have known about deaf people. Because many are also unfamiliar with the interpreting field, she also spends time shining a light on how the field operates. Bree’s hope is to one day see a world where the deaf and hearing community are intertwined with each other to the point where accessibility will become second nature for society.
I'm proud of this video because these terms (especially hearing impaired) are still commonly used to refer to the deaf community. I was proud that so many people learned that the deaf community as a whole only wants to be labeled as deaf or hard of hearing. Because of their new found knowledge, I believe they are actively doing their best to change their vocabulary.
@scarlet_may.1 (Scarlet May)
Scarlet Watters is a 20-year-old deaf creator. She makes videos on TikTok that vary from comedy, to educating on the deaf community, to ASL covers and more. Over the past year she has amassed a following of 4.4 million followers on TikTok.
I'm proud of this video because it has opened many peoples eyes to not being accessible and I feel it has helped the platform in a way -- people started captioning their videos. I’m all about making a change for the better so I’m proud I was able to spread awareness.
@slntwrlddd (Otis Jones)
Otis Jones is a creator from Atlanta, Georgia. He is the only deaf person in his family and went to Berkmar High School, fully mainstreamed with an interpreter. Otis wears a Cochlear implant and a hearing aid and enjoys performing music with the art of ASL intertwined. Otis teaches ASL classes during his free time and has a passion for hearing people to learn ASL with respect and courtesy for the deaf community.
My favorite TikTok is, of course, the video with my beautiful mother signing along with me.
Bree, Otis and Scarlet's Tips on Making your Content Accessible
What advice would you give to someone using the auto captions feature on TikTok for the first time?
@bree.k.jones: Please be sure to make edits to your auto captions -- go through your video, make sure what you really said matches what the captions say.
@scarlet_may.1: Definitely use the auto captions feature. But if that is not available to you I would recommend typing out your own captions as well if you want everyone to be included!
@slntwrlddd: My advice would be not to be nervous but to be appreciative because by putting on auto captions, you are making your content accessible to a new audience. With auto captions you are gaining more respect and love from the deaf/hard of hearing community. It is really that easy.
What guidance would you give to a creator to help them make their content accessible?
@bree.k.jones: Caption all your videos. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing want to enjoy your awesome content as well. Caption everything, not some of the things.
@scarlet_may.1: Definitely use the auto captions feature. But if that is not accessible to you I would recommend typing out your own captions as well if you want everyone to be included!
@slntwrlddd: Before, you had to type in your captions, which now, looking back can be hard to do. Now you can click auto captions on your video! This gives you no excuse on why your content cannot be accessible for the deaf/hard of hearing community. Also, always spotlight deaf creators when you do anything that is related to the deaf community’s culture.
If someone who would like to learn ASL or BASL, where should they start?
@bree.k.jones: BASL is not as commonly known as it used to be. There's a rich history behind it, so if you're interested, please research it.
Check out your local community college and take up ASL classes there if they offer it. Once you take up those classes, take advantage of going to deaf events and meeting members of the deaf community. Another thing that can be done is following deaf creators on TikTok who teach ASL such as @deaffamilymatters, @slntwrlddd, @shaheemsanchez and @itscharmay. Once you start interacting with one page, more pages will begin to pop up on your fyp, giving an advantage of learning more signs and phrases. Another thing that can be done is researching deaf groups on FaceBook that are in your local area.
@scarlet_may.1: Don’t give up, and make sure to socialize yourself with the deaf community! You will pick it up faster that way and also make friends within the deaf/hard of hearing community. There’s websites online, classes online/in person, books so many ways to learn! But make sure you’re learning from a deaf person! Overall we appreciate your willingness to learn for us!
@slntwrlddd: Put yourself in a deaf environment where their language is exposed to you. That way, you will pick up even faster, learn slang, and see the diversity in how each deaf person signs. Also, always follow deaf creators content and always learn from a deaf person who knows the culture, struggles as a deaf person, and of course, the language itself more than a hearing person would.
What you Can Do to Be Inclusive
We encourage all creators to add auto captions to their videos, to make their content more enjoyable for everyone. To turn them on, select auto captions in the editing page after you have uploaded or recorded a video. Text is automatically transcribed and displayed on your content.
At TikTok, we stand with all of our diverse communities, including our users who are deaf or hard of hearing. We hope you enjoyed learning more about some of the creators using their platforms to inspire change and lift others up - be sure to follow @bree.k.jones, @scarlet_may.1, and @slntwrlddd on TikTok!