Technology as a Freedom Tool in a Disabling Society: The Ambiguous Relationship between Disabled Users and Technology in Accessing Autonomy
Amanda Leckner, Hannah Jane Upson, Daniela Pereira
Date: April 25, 2023
How is technology as a freedom tool and an ambiguous concept for disabled users? Technology has been dominantly viewed as a means to save and cure disabled body-minds. A disabling society is one where the built environment rejects disabled bodies. The current dependence on technologies upholds the glorification of normalcy of the body. Alice Wong describes how the concept of technology for disabled people is fluid. When technology breaks down it exposes that the once provided freedoms were reliant on technology and are now no longer accessible for disabled people. Disabled people have been silenced in their relationship with technology by dominant media images. This study counters oppressive societal structures and instead views disabled people as users, experts, and creators of technology, offering a radical vision of the future where disabled people are actively incorporated into the public discourse surrounding technology.
In examining the first-hand narratives of disabled people through memoir, blogs, poetry, and more we find that: 1) how disabled people use and access technology as a freedom tool is dependent upon their built environment 2) disabled people’s relationship with technology as a freedom is culturally influenced. 3) Universal design actively breaks down some disabling facets of society.
About the Speakers
Amanda LecknerAmanda Leckner is a junior at Virginia Tech under the Department of Political Science, majoring in National Security and Foreign Affairs. She is a Coelho Law Fellow at The Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy and Innovation. Her research interests include the intersection between disability, multiculturalism, and migration politics. LinkedIn | Email
Hannah Jane Upson
Hannah Jane Upson is a senior at Virginia Tech majoring in Political Science with a minor in Medicine and Society. She is on the board of directors for the New River Valley Disability Resource Center. Her interests include ethics in public policy, disability culture, and reproductive justice.
Daniela Pereira is a junior at Virginia Tech majoring in Clinical Neuroscience with minors in disabilities studies, and medicine and society. She is a Fralin Undergraduate Fellow researching healthcare inequities in relation to disability. Her interests include socially-situated neuroscience research of mental illness, science outreach, and healthcare policy.
- Division of Information Technology (DivIT), University of Maryland
- The Graduate School’s Office of Graduate Diversity and Inclusion (OGDI), University of Maryland