ABSTRACT: Disability and Technology in Urban and Rural Settings
Technologies designed for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) are meant to enhance the quality of their lives, improve livelihoods, and enable access to transport, education, health services, water, and sanitation. The aim of this panel is to explore the appropriation and translation of technologies, as well as the organizational and legal structures to which they are linked, and the institutional, epistemic and normative assumptions they imply – always in light of practical and everyday experiences of living with a disability. The panel focuses on three broad and interrelated thematic areas: rehabilitation, transport and communication. Technologies include sign languages, braille, community-based rehabilitation, mobility aids, electronic devices and more.
Technologies are differently available and appropriated in urban and rural settings. Wheelchairs, hearing aids and other assistive technologies are associated with the urban world and its global connections. Livelihood possibilities, appropriate physical infrastructure, as well as organizations and institutions for PWDs are linked to cities. Yet the boundary between rural and urban settings is often blurred.
The panel explores how different technologies are experienced by PWDs in urban and rural settings. How does the use of different technologies (re)shape their lives in specific settings? How are competences and skills facilitated or frustrated by technologies? How are artefacts translated in order to become technologies? What are the socio-political forces – involving the state, (non governmental) organizations and institutions – that underlie processes of distribution and access to technologies and services, and the production of knowledge about them?