Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

Guest Editor's Page

Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

Guest Editor's Page

Article excerpt

As a 21st-century vision rehabilitation professional, it is my responsibility to use all of the social media tools at my disposal to reach as large an audience as possible. At present, my preferred social media outlet is Twitter. I Twitter everyday at , have 1,200 "followers," and am rated as "highly influential" in the Twitter universe (or Twitterverse, as I call it).

Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read short messages known as "tweets." Tweets are diminutive posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author's profile page and delivered to the author's subscribers, who are known as "followers." Created four years ago, Twitter now has 105 million users across cyberspace--that is, any corner of the world with an Internet connection--and delivers 55 million tweets everyday.

Because of its ability to disseminate information so rapidly, Twitter has also become a way for individuals to receive customized news and information. My 1,200 followers receive a daily stream of links to the most interesting, cutting-edge, up-to-date news items about blindness, vision loss, and vision research. Twitter's immense reach, however, also provides a platform for one of its greatest weaknesses: nothing is filtered, everything is equally important, and, as a result, a great deal of untested, erroneous, and stereotypical information is disseminated via Twitter. This is especially the case for tweets about blindness and vision loss: "New cure for blindness!" trumpeted a headline last week. "Amazing blind man can navigate like a bat!" announced another. "New eye drops dissolve cataracts like magic!" "Blind people can now go on vacation like anyone else!" And so it goes, 55 million tweets each day.

In the face of this prolific amount of misinformation, it is encouraging and timely, therefore, that this month's issue of the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB) contains several significant research articles that strengthen the knowledge base of our profession and debunk untested and stereotypic notions about blindness, visual impairment, and the capabilities of people with vision loss. …

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