Can Inventors Please Stop Focusing on Trying to Make Paraplegics Walk?

Published: Sep 18, 2017

I’ve seen a lot of videos going around that showcase new inventions designed to help paraplegics stand or walk instead of having to use a wheelchair:

(I showed my wife this video and said the thing was originally designed for having wall sex)

Some TV shows have even gotten in on the action:

“ Thanks Guys! With this, I won’t need to sue the school for a lack of accessible bathrooms! You’re the best! ”

I, for one, am a little tired of seeing crap like this for a number of reasons:

These Devices are all Fundamentally Impractical

These videos love to show how their invention helps paraplegic users navigate the world by making them “less disabled”. However, you will never see a video for one of these products demonstrate:

  1. What happens when it runs out of power.
  2. Just how little of the cost insurance (public or private) would cover.
  3. The hernia this would give anyone if they tried to put it in a vehicle without a chair lift.

They Try to Solve the Problem of An Inaccessible World By Negating The Disability

These devices attempt to make the user more acceptable to the world instead of making the world more accepting (and accessible) to the user. While I feel that these devices are being created from a genuine desire to help disabled people lead more active and inclusive lives, I feel like they often miss the point when it comes to what disabled people are actually advocating for when they demand that things be made more accessible.

They Don’t Really Represent What Paraplegics and Disabled People Want

In my experience, there’s a core list of things that paraplegics want to see in the world / from the medical and scientific community:

  1. Universal design incorporated in public and private spaces.
  2. A society that doesn’t demonize, deify, or infantilize people with disabilities.
  3. Normal sexual function
  4. Normal bowl and bladder control.
  5. The proven inventions and technologies we have today (e.g, wheelchairs) to be made lighter, stronger, and more affordably.

You may have noticed that “super cool cyborg legs” were not on that list. Inventors should be focused less on turning us into robots and more on making the world accessible to everyone, not just those who can afford it.