I’ve been trying to research on guidance for people with special or differing needs on how to best use Twitter. Bottom line of it is that there doesn’t seem to be any at all. By differing needs I mean communication issues mainly, like Aspergers or Autism. But I guess I am also thinking of people with other communication issues, such as extreme shyness, social phobias, mental health issues and depression – anything that makes communication difficult. Twitter ought to be a good place to communicate because it lacks the stress of physically meeting people, but at the same time, it can be an absolute nightmare if you have these issues. I’m not aware there is way for people who have sight difficulties to Tweet.

It’s also difficult for those of us without any communication difficulties to understand that the person they are tweeting with have issues. If we knew, surely we’d react more appropriately. And yet, having to flag that you have a difficulty seems all wrong as well. Twitter can be such a bonding place that I’d really love to see some kind of system in place where we can be more understanding and embracing to those who find communication difficult and yet it seems so insulting to ask people to flag up their differences.

Since I’ve been on Twitter I’ve corresponded with people with severe mental health issues, whose Tweets appear on the surface to be inappropriate, but because I knew that it was the issue speaking and not the person, I was able to respond accordingly, or at least ignore the inappropriateness. But when you don’t know – that’s when you just think you are Tweeting with someone rude or aggressive. I’m also in regular correspondence with someone with a communication difficulty and it’s a very rewarding Twitter relationship. Not everyone can see past the difficulty though, and that is just heart-breaking to see. It’s tough enough to have an issue without ending up having to apologise every five minutes because what you said wasn’t said in the right way for the recipient.

I’m a strong advocate for special needs integration and equality and also strongly believe that Twitter is a place for everyone; it’s such brilliant reflection on real life – yet important members of real life community, those with special needs – just aren’t catered to in any way. I don’t know what the answer is – a mentorship scheme, maybe – but I really wish there was one. Any ideas?

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