Research call-out: people with communication disabilities who use Twitter

A new Australian study into the ways in which people with communication disabilities use the social media platform Twitter for information exchange has been announced.

The study, being run by the University of Newcastle, but also involving researchers from Deakin University and the Australian National University, has several research goals:

  • To discover how Twitter is currently used by people with communication disabilities and the nature and extent of any problems experienced in learning to use Twitter.
  • To test an online training module for people with severe physical and communication disabilities to access and use Twitter to exchange information.
  • To evaluate the use of Twitter by people with severe physical and communication disabilities.

To understand how Twitter is used in overcoming communication disabilities the study’s researchers are seeking 400 adults with lifelong disabilities who experience communication difficulties —such as from stroke, cerebral palsy, motor neurone disease or spina bifida—who are able to give their own consent and can talk about their use of Twitter.

To better understand the development of training on Twitter use, the study is also seeking 36 adults who are interested in learning how to use Twitter, and who will also be interviewed afterwards about their training and Twitter use.

UON researcher Bronwyn Hemsley explain the the process, “First we collect participant’s tweets from Twitter, then we send them a visualisation (graphic) of their Twitter data  to show their network and tweets sent to other Twitter users. Then, we invite them to participate in an interview about their Twitter experiences, and any barriers or facilitators to their use of Twitter. We hope that this information will help us to teach others about Twitter to improve their connection with others and gain information and support.”


Participants are being offered gift vouchers in exchange for their time.

For more information about the study, or wish to participate, you can contact Dr. Bronwyn Hemsley on (02) 4921 7352 or via email Bronwyn.Hemsley@newcastle.edu.au.


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