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The impaired body, the technology of the wheelchair and the environment

Mariela Gaete-Reyes , King's College London
Co-author(s): Mariela Gaete-Reyes


There is scarcity of research on the interrelationships between impaired bodies, technologies, and the environment. In seeking to redress this lacuna, this paper focuses on the relationship between the impaired body, the technology of the wheelchair and the environment. The paper first engages with discourses on the relationship between impaired bodies and technologies. Then, drawing on empirical material from a study with twelve women wheelchair users living in England, the paper explores the meaning of the wheelchair as a micro-space of ontological security. It does so in relation to the influence of the wheelchair in the construction of the meaning of places, and the enabling-disabling experiences of disabled women wheelchair users when interacting with the environment. The paper concludes that while the wheelchair has potential to 'mark' disabled people out, and in this sense can be disabling, it provides a context of/for security for some women wheelchair users and enables them, potentially, to have a more independent life.

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