“One Size Does Not Fit All”: People with Communication Disability in Twitter


Twitter was launched in 2006 but really began to gain popularity around 2012. Here’s a cool infographic timeline for Twitter, “From Egg to IPO.”

Early Twitter adopters saw exciting potential in this new way of communicating in 140 characters or less. Doubters saw it as part of a growing threat to internet privacy posed by social media as a whole, and a disturbing trend toward over-sharing that was bound to create an unlocked window into private lives. Others took the attitude of “why bother?” as they viewed a friend’s dinner plate online.

Some in the AAC world were quick to see something much more interesting and useful. They saw Twitter as a new way for people who use AAC to share and connect, and to leverage available and developing resources to create a truly global AAC community.

Some recent Twitter research by Bronwyn Hemsley, Stuart Palmer, and Babak Abedin is located on “Inclusion of People with Communication Disability in Twitter,” a summary of resources well worth checking out. When you do, you might find yourself agreeing with Babak Abedin in his 2018 article at the top of the list: that the online AAC community created by Twitter users is “more like chocolate than cigarettes”: it can be healthy or unhealthy depending on how you use it. And you can see what happens when people who use AAC are taught to use Twitter – like many things, in using social media platforms, “one size does not fit all.”

Professor Bronwyn Hemsley, who recently joined the Graduate School of Health, at the University of Technology Sydney, will be presenting at ISAAC 2018 on “Learning to Use Twitter Strategically and Safely: An Evidence-Based Training Workshop.” The workshop is scheduled for Thursday, July 26, 11:00 a.m. – noon.

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