Imagining technologies for disability futures

Amelia DeFalco, Luna Dolezal, Raymond Holt, Stuart Murray (Lead / Corresponding author), Graham Pullin

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

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Abstract

Imagining futures for disabled people is frequently seen in terms of technological change. For example, in 2019 the Royal Society published iHuman: Blurring Lines Between Mind and Machine, a report that examined the potential of innovative neural and brain–computer interface technologies. Although science will drive such developments, it is the ways in which technological developments interact with cultural imagination and social realities that animate broader ideas of future bodies and minds. For people with disabilities, this can be a complex and often wearisome process. Excitement about the potential of technology and treatments is tempered by issues such as access, prohibitive costs, and the demands of consultation and assessment. Just a few months before the Royal Society report, journalist Frances Ryan published Crippled: Austerity and the Demonization of Disabled People. In her study, Ryan outlined a very different idea of disability futures, noting that “the active, deliberate and persistent maltreatment of Britain's disabled people has gone beyond critical levels”. For Ryan, the future is one not of gleaming biohybrids, but cuts to services and a lack of technological development. The technologies to come may well be in the realm of the marvellous, but disability experiences are frequently everyday encounters with barriers to inclusion and inadequate access to basic assistive technology. These problems are even more pronounced in low-income and middle-income countries where health services may be constrained.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1772-1773
Number of pages2
JournalThe Lancet
Volume399
Issue number10337
Early online date5 May 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2022

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