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date: 01 July 2022

Abstract and Keywords

The interplay between assistive technology and disability has received scant attention within disability studies, in part because of the assumption that any consideration of prosthetic technology must represent support of the medical model of disability. In this chapter, the authors challenge that assumption by demonstrating that an understanding of the lived experience of prosthetic use or nonuse can reveal crucial social influences that affect modification or rejection of prescribed technology. Invisible disabilities that are revealed primarily through the addition of body technology provide poignant examples of the crucial role of stigma in the decision to reject or modify technology to “pass” as “normal.” This chapter explores historical failures of assistive technology as failures to understand the subjective experiences of the disabled. By prioritizing a phenomenological understanding of nonuse, the authors explain the lack of fit between prosthetic designs and user experiences and advocate greater user involvement in healthcare design.

Keywords: stigma, technology, assistive technology, adaptation, breathlessness, oxygen therapy, hearing aids, phenomenology, illness experience, ambulatory oxygen

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