Tiktok is one of the most referred social media platforms in the world at the moment. Its videos are shown on almost every other platform like Instagram, while Tiktok itself is getting more and more daily users. Like with any other social media platform, Tiktok then has its downsides too, especially when it comes to exposure of videos in certain languages. This usually means that minor languages and dialects tend to get lost as bigger languages take the floor – encouraging native speakers to use only the one or two most used languages in order to get thousands of followers and viewers.
In comparison to those minor languages struggling to get viewers on Tiktok, sign language is unfortunately still a very hidden area for many. This has been slowly changing after Black American Sign Language, BASL, has been getting exposure thanks to a popular 22-year-old Tiktoker, Nakia Smith, whose videos have gone viral around the world, getting more that 400K followers.
As with any other language, there is not just one stardardised sign language for its users, but the language varies between dialects, regions and countries. This can then cause misunderstanding among people using sign language, even if they come from just different regions.
Thanks to Nakia Smith, social media users have been given a chance not only to learn more about BASL and sign languages, but also to see how well Tiktok and other platforms have become more accessible for more people.
In her videos, Smith deals with BASL’s historical development and its importance for American sign language culture. She also acknowledges herself too that many people have heard about BASL for the first time through her videos. With her videos, Nakia also shows what it means to be Black and deaf.