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Twitter liberates adults with no speech

Twitter liberates adults with no speech
Photo: Twitter liberates adults with no speech
Twitter levels the playing field for adults with no speech including those who have had a stroke or motor neurone disease, say researchers.

People with communication disabilities tend to flourish on Twitter.

While other users might be disadvantaged by 140 character limits, many people who struggle to speak have had lifelong practice in making every word count, say Australian researchers.

The first part of a University of Newcastle study suggests the social networking website can help them share information and feel more included by giving them a "voice".

They found Twitter is an important tool for adults with speech disabilities from stoke, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, autism and motor neurone disease.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Bronwyn Hemsley said many of them who use assistive technologies already knew how to make their communication short and succinct and therefore, tend to flourish on Twitter.
"Often, people with little or no functional speech find that listeners try to finish their sentences for them or speak on their behalf," she said.

"They're used to crafting short messages carefully.

"In many ways, Twitter might level the playing field, liberating users from stereotypes and enabling self-advocacy."

The study's second phase will focus on the benefits of online Twitter training, how networks develop and how people with communication disabilities experience Twitter over a six month period.

People wanting to take part can email Bronwyn.Hemsley@newcastle.edu.au

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