How Do Advancements in Mobility Aids Cause Disability Erasure?

Jul 06, 2018

Anonymous asks, quote:

This is concerning your most recent post about disability inventions! I'm super curious about this as a fellow person with a disability. When wheelchairs were first invented, they were really impractical and uncomfortable. What is the difference between current assistive/mitigating devices and ridiculous future ones? I understand how they should also focus on current tech, and how invasive surgery/gene therapy erases disabled identity, but I see standalone devices as options, not erasers.

end quote.

Quick clarification: when I was talking about the “erasure” problem, I meant to say it in terms of “instead of making the world more accessible, let’s create complex devices that sort of make stuff better for the individuals who can afford them instead of the world as a whole”

Take the “wheelchair that can go up stairs”. It exists. It does what the name suggests. It’s electric, extremely heavy, and expensive.

The solution to “the stairs problem” lies in the stairs, not the wheelchair that can’t go up them. I feel like these inventions are solving the wrong end of a very real problem.

These inventions aren’t trying to improve upon the wheelchair, they’re trying to go around it and doing a terrible job.

What happens when that thing breaks? How does it handle rain or snow? How do you charge it? How do you get it in a car? Show the guy going into a nightclub with this thing.

These videos never address these issues because they want us to focus on the whole “we made a cripple guy walk!” thing.

For most physically disabled folk, the problem with being disabled lies not in our mobility devices but in how the world treats us in regards to our mobility devices.

I’ll be much more excited for these kinds of videos when they start demonstrating the latest innovations in universal design and how the world is being made better for everyone.

Side note: I have no problems with gene therapies or other medical procedures that improve the lives of the disabled. If they ever invent a brain surgery that can fix me (guaranteed), I’d be there.