Tag Archives: ability

Progress Vs. Ableism Revisited: The case of the “Bionic Woman”

Claire Lomas, promoted by the media as the “Bionic Woman” just made history and sparked inspiration by completing the London Marathon in 16 days.  Averaging about two miles per day, this woman with below-chest paralysis walked her 26.2 miles to finish proudly in 36,000th place. She did so with the help of a ReWalk suit, a supportive family, and the goal of raising money for spinal cord injury research.

The ReWalk suit resembles closely the Ekso suit that I wrote about previously and raises similar questions. They both enable people with spinal cord injuries to stand and walk. They are heralded by the companies as tools to enhance rehabilitation, mobility, and dignity. They also both leave me with the same uncomfortable uncertainty: is this progress or ableism? (See link above for a full delineation of this uncertainty and a lengthy discussion in the comments section). (more…)

Progress versus ableism: The case of Ekso

Eksobionics, a company dedicated to the augmentation of the human body, recently developed Ekso—a “bionic exoskeleton that allows wheelchair users to stand and walk.” In this post, I pose a question to which I honestly do not have a definitive answer: Does this development represent human progress or does it further perpetuate the subordination of physically impaired bodies?

I begin with a brief background on the company and a description of the product. I then present arguments for both progress and ableism. Finally, I question —but ultimately defend—the validity of this dichotomy. (more…)