From ‘disabled’ to ‘different’

a very mechanical looking wheelchair with a metal person with skinny spiderlegsPerceptions are often culturally constructed and are therefore open to being transformed. DeeDee Bennett explores how the perception of ‘disability’ may be transformed to ‘differing abilities’. Using the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction, the author suggests a way to shift societal culture of disability and consequently cause a significant shift in policy and ethical consideration of the future. You will need institutional access for a free read of Scientific eventuality or science fiction: The future of people with different abilities, published by Science Direct. It is good to see the topic being approached from this perspective.

Abstract: Consider this, we are living in a future [in-part] imagined over 30 years ago – in science fiction film and books. We may envision that 30 years from now we could live in a future with technology developed from the concepts we see in science fiction today. In this paper, the concepts of disability are challenged in the future based on the technologies imagined in the science fiction genre of the present and past. Focused on the sub-genre, Cyberpunk, current mainstream, as well as new emerging technologies inspired by science fiction are reviewed. Future disability is reimagined dependent on continued support and acceptance of the emerging technology. If our past is any indication, our future may lie in the conceptual and slightly implausible figments of our science fiction-based imaginations. However, the cultural shift will significantly impact our laws, regulations, and policies, as well as introduce new societal concerns.

Image sourced from Pinterest: Stephane Halleux’s “Wheelchair telefunken”