The Explosive Power of Video as a Human Rights Tool

Knowledge-sharing, one of the oldest evolutionary tools, has gone even more global for humans through video. With nearly 65% of the population being visual learners, and with almost 7,000 different languages around the globe, videos have blown open the doors of communication. Cultures previously cut off from the rest of the World by location, language, disabilities, and even poverty are now being empowered to tell their stories. Pictorial and oral history have been the human species main veins of communication and story telling between generations and cultures. With the extensive spread of technology, video is able to overcome some of the most basic barriers, and is evolving into a tool for human rights advocates, environmentalists, and groundbreaking news globally.

The Language Barrier, Overcome

Language, including spoken, written, and physical forms, is one of the unique and complex evolutions of the human species. In some cultures the written language is irrelevant to their way of life, and in others the language spoken is only known to a very small group of individuals, yet one thing the majority of the World has in common is the ability to comprehend visual images without any written or spoken assistance. This is where video steps in to transform communication, knowledge sharing, and learning into a global event. Since the majority of complex subjects are best understood through visual aid, video offers a more universal solution.

Information Sharing Made Easy

Now if you speak one of the major languages around the World, you will find technology, computers, the internet, and literature in your language. If you do not, then you are at a severe disadvantage to learning 21st century tools like the computer. Since video cameras contain fewer buttons, that are typically color-coded, they are more universal for learning purposes. They also do not have the extensive functionality and options that a computer, iPad, or smartphone has, keeping its purpose clear and easy to comprehend. This allows cultures exposed and unexposed to technology a more simple medium for communication.

This can lead to some incredible information sharing. For instance, the non-profit WITNESS has leveraged video as an explosive tool for human rights. They empower citizens in areas with high levels of pollution, severe violations of ethical work standards, and other impoverished areas. Video transforms their stories from myth to reality, and let’s the people share their experiences and perspectives in place of filtered views from media.

The Logistics Conundrum

With the incredible power video holds for individuals and communities previously without global voices, it also has its setbacks. The logistics can be videos own largest barrier. First, individuals must have access to a video camera, electricity to charge the equipment, and some form of access, through computers or external people, to the Internet to share their stories. Second, individuals must be trained to use and upkeep the video equipment, which requires an outside individual. Lastly, the disposal of unused or broken equipment can result in unwanted e-waste. Electronic waste is a growing issue worldwide, and since third world nations are known to take the brunt of the toxic waste, it would be contradictory to empower them with video and then leave them to their own devices for its disposal. They have no prior knowledge of the internal, not to mention relatively toxic, workings of such technology. Especially since the majority of such components are mined from portions of the earth that require extensive equipment to extract.

A Tool for Social Advocacy

So although there are no perfect solutions to extending and sharing the voice of those all over the World, video can serve as an important tool to help leverage their stories. Whether individuals are illiterate, speak a little known language, or live in the most remote village in the world. Video can help share their stories and illuminate the diversity of culture around the World. It can also be a critical tool in providing voices to those who suffer, and inspire all of us to help improve social and ecological conditions worldwide.

For more information about video as a tool for human rights and social advocacy, please visit WITNESS or on their video Hub.

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