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Disability and Technology in Uganda from Local and Global Perspectives

 

The project seeks to analyze the role, impact and potential of technologies for the lives of people with disabilities in Uganda. Focusing on three major problem fields – transport, communication and rehabilitation – the project addresses the urgent issue of disability and technology in developing countries to propose feasible local solutions with global reach.

​​About the project

Background

Today it is commonly assumed that Western technological aid for people with disabilities in developing countries leads to an improvement of their situation. Assistive technologies like hearing aids, wheelchairs or artificial limbs as well as for example sanitation or computers, must be seen as important factors influencing the daily lives of people with disabilities. While such technologies are seemingly widely distributed, they are not accessible for all. Actual appropriation and use of technologies – developed for people with disabilities in Western countries and exported to developing countries – frequently leads to unforeseen consequences, such as secondary disabilities or social exclusion. Furthermore, existent competences of people with disabilities in dealing with technologies are usually disregarded, hindering people with disabilities’ social, economical and political participation and emancipation and therewith leaving potentially highly promising solutions unutilized. Focusing on three major problem fields – transport, communication and rehabilitation – the project hypothesizes that technologies are too often inappropriate and insufficiently embedded within the social and physical environment on site. Within a holistic perspective of disability the project focuses on the interactions of body, society and environment and seeks to analyse the role, impact and potential of technologies for the lives of people with disabilities in Uganda.

Objectives

The projects aims to propose innovative, locally applicable and sustainable ways of enhancing the use of technologies and thereby have a positive impact on the lives of people experiencing disability through careful scrutiny of cases of local disability cultures in view of alternative technology application concepts. The main objectives are: To produce knowledge about how different kinds of technologies in the field of transport, communication and rehabilitation are appropriated or rejected and affect the social, economic and personal opportunities of people with disabilities in Uganda. To develop new theoretical and applicable concepts and models of local technology integration for global development strategies. To enhance the competences of people with disabilities in using technologies to their full potential and develop an accessible environment. In cooperation with stakeholders, research-based intervention strategies will be conceptualized.

Relevance

The overarching aim of this project is to enhance competences of people with disabilities in view of progressing towards further equalization and participation opportunities and therewith towards the reduction of poverty in the respective target group. In connection with this impact, subsequent changes in the field of policies concerning their adjustment and bridging of implementation gaps, as well as positive attitudinal changes, are expected. The project intends to enhance competences of people with disabilities through improved services of the stakeholders based on three criteria: the availability of appropriate technology, a proficient appropriation and use of technology, and an accessible environment for the technology use. Research will identify societal, institutional, technological and environmental factors that complicate or facilitate the enhancement of competences of people with disabilities.

Geographic scope

  • Uganda

Research consortium

Gran​tees 

  • Prof. Dr. Mareile Flitsch, Ethnographic Museum, Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Zurich 
  • Dr. Herbert Muyinda, Child Health and Development Centre Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda 
  • Dr. David Kyaddondo, School of Social Sciences Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda 

Part​nerships 

  • Ugandan Society for Disabled Children (USDC) 
  • National Council of People with Disabilities ​
  • Action on Disability and Development (ADD), World Vision 

Project website and link to P3

 

 

Further information on this content

 Contact

Prof. Dr. Mareile Flitsch Universität Zürich Völkerkundemuseum Pelikanstrasse 40 CH-8001 Zürich +41 44 634 90 50 flitsch@vmz.uzh.ch