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Open AccessArticle

Assistive Technologies: Social Barriers and Socio-Technical Pathways

Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), 76131 Karlsruhe, Germany
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Societies 2020, 10(2), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc10020041
Received: 8 January 2020 / Revised: 24 May 2020 / Accepted: 25 May 2020 / Published: 31 May 2020
Against the background of recent international regulation, the role of assistive technologies in the fields of independent living, education, and employment is analyzed in this article to propose a future strategy for a socio-technical perspective on their further development processes. Based on qualitative expert interviews at the European level, the role and scope of ATs in these fields are described for three types of disabilities: visual impairment, hearing impairment, and autism spectrum disorder. The findings show that digitalization processes entail major opportunities and challenges for ATs in all three fields and that further measures are needed to bring technical opportunities to their full potential in adverse social contexts. Regarding future technology development, the authors propose a development strategy focusing strongly on the social context of the devices. Only in this manner, relevant “unintended consequences”, as well as social or ethical concerns, can be identified and addressed. View Full-Text
Keywords: assistive technologies; disability; independent living; employment; education; socio-technical system; responsible research and innovation; technology assessment assistive technologies; disability; independent living; employment; education; socio-technical system; responsible research and innovation; technology assessment
MDPI and ACS Style

Nierling, L.; Maia, M. Assistive Technologies: Social Barriers and Socio-Technical Pathways. Societies 2020, 10, 41.

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