Inside #NewTwitter at #HCID2011

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The affects of changing social networks on people with motor disabilities


When: 19 April 2011 at 1PM – 1.40pm

Where: HCID Open Day 2011 at City University London

Free tickets: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/1365743977/estw

Today, social networking websites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter have emerged as leaders and draw in hundreds of millions of international users. In the UK 49% of Internet users are using social networks however these websites are often directed at persons without disabilities. Existing HCI literature suggests that social networks have the potential to help people with cerebral palsy to overcome their mobility, access and communication limitations to enable communication independence.

Considering an exploratory interview study that explored the experiences and challenges faced when people with cerebral palsy use social networks (see: http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1878852 for ASSETS’10 paper). It identified that abrupt and frequently changing social networks were the most challenging often slowed down or prevented use. Such changes can often affect assistive technology resulting in users re-learning the number of clicks when using switches. Statements like :

“Carer: with the switch she knows how many times she is going to click and press there and there … they are changing she has to learn new … it makes time slow because they keep changing. User: yes” which are often reported by users and reiterated by their carers.

These issues often make interacting with social networks time-consuming. In spite of this, the study recognized social networks as a vital way for these people to communicate and would continue to play a crucial role within their lives. To further explore the effects of abrupt and frequent change within social networks a qualitative study that explored Twitter.com change approach from #OldTwitter to #NewTwitter was carried out. Almost 1 million tweets mentioning #NewTwitter were posted between September 2010 to February 2011. However this presentation will focus on the pilot study that analyzed 600 tweets based on discrete occasions. The study identified the change approach used by Twitter.com, global peaks, moreover the change acceptance among its users, together with positive and negative aspects of #NewTwitter. The findings from the pilot study formed the basis for a main study were a further 18,100 tweets were examined. The purpose of this research is to develop a change approach for social networks that has minimal affect on users with cerebral palsy.

During the presentation Makayla Lewis will briefly provide a background of her PhD research; findings from exploratory interview study; social media monitoring tools; the role of the qualitative analysis approaches and software and pilot study findings. She will end the presentation by listing solutions to challenges faced when researching users with motor impairments.

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