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What difference does tech make? Conceptualizations of Disability and Assistive Technology among Kenyan Youth: Conceptualizations of Disability and AT

Colour profile image of Dr Giulia Barbareschi, a caucasian woman with brown hair

Dr Giulia Barbareschi

Researcher in Assistive Technology

DOI

Abstract

Most research which investigates stigma towards with people with disabilities and the use of Assistive Technology (AT) are based in the Global North and focus on the experiences of people with disabilities and the consequences that stigma has on choices surrounding AT. However, stigma is a societal construct rooted in the attitude and beliefs that people without disabilities hold on disability and AT. Furthermore, the portrayal of people with disabilities and AT is dependent on the social context. In this paper, we examine how young Kenyans without disabilities view people with disabilities and AT users. Findings show that while the portrayal of disability is often shaped by negative emotion, participants felt that many of the barriers affecting people with disabilities were created by society. Perceptions of AT differed –devices were not only seen as a mark of disability but also as a sign of access to resources. Therefore, what we see is an emergent picture where social barriers can be reinforced by poverty, and where poverty reinforces social barriers faced by people with disabilities. We conclude that access to appropriate technology alongside societal interventions tackling incorrect beliefs about disability can help to overcome the stigma faced by people with disabilities.

To cite this article:

Giulia Barbareschi, Norah Shitawa Kopi, Ben Oldfrey, and Catherine Holloway. 2021. What difference does tech make? Conceptualizations of Disability and Assistive Technology among Kenyan Youth: Conceptualizations of Disability and AT. In The 23rd International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS '21). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Article 18, 1–13. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3441852.3471226