Call for participants in new Twitter and communication disabilities study

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Wednesday, 28 January 2015 14:35pm

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.

Left hand holding a smartphone with the Twitter logo, map in background representing communication around the world

The study, being run by the University of Newcastle, Australia, 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.

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

Commenting on the study, Media Access Australia’s resident web accessibility expert, Dr Scott Hollier, said further research into social media and accessibility would complement existing work in the area—such as Media Access Australia’s own Sociability report.

“With Twitter significantly improving its accessibility, people with disabilities have new opportunities to contribute and participate online,” Dr Hollier said. “This study has great potential in finding out more about this area. Any additional research that illustrates how technology—such as social media platforms—can increase access for people with disabilities is always welcome.”

If you want more information about the study, or wish to participate, you can email Dr. Bronwyn Hemsley at the University of Newcastle or phone on (02) 4921 7352.

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