Twitter can now help people with communication disabilities share information and feel more included. Australian researchers have revealed how micro-blogging website Twitter can help people who have experienced strokes, cerebral palsy, autism, motor neurone disease and traumatic brain injury to find a 'voice'.
Lead researcher and speech pathologist Bronwyn Hemsley from University of Newcastle said, "We are seeing that Twitter can not only provide a 'voice' for people with communication disabilities, but also an 'audience' - and this helps them to feel empowered and in control of their own lives."
The researchers suggested that many people with communication disabilities who use assistive technologies already knew how to make their communication short and succinct and, therefore, tended to flourish on Twitter. Often, people with little or no functional speech find that listeners often try to finish their sentences for them or speak on their behalf.
Hemsley said, "They are used to crafting short messages carefully. Where other users might be at a disadvantage by 140 character limits, people who struggle to speak might have had lifelong practice in making every word count. In many ways, Twitter might level the playing field, liberating users from stereotypes and enabling self-advocacy."
The research team will soon embark on the second phase of the three-year project to investigate the benefits of online Twitter training, how networks develop and how people with communication disabilities experience Twitter over a period of six months.