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Journal Issue: Children with Disabilities Volume 22 Number 1 Spring 2012

Emerging Technologies and Their Impact on Disability
Paul H. Wise


Childhood disability cannot be fully understood without a clear appreciation for the power and machinery of technical innovation in the modern world. Technical progress in both preventive and therapeutic interventions is constantly reshaping the character and prevalence of childhood disability and therefore its essential challenge to both the health and education communities. Yet technical innovation is also generating remarkable new prospects for enhancing the capacities of affected children and optimizing their quality of life. Indeed, the nature and cadence of technical innovation are likely to set in motion profound changes in the meaning of disability for affected children and their families, particularly as the use of technology becomes more deeply integrated into the common tasks and routines of daily life for everyone.

As technical capacity expands, so too does the burden on society to provide this capacity to all children in need. Here, the essential challenge to practitioners and policy makers is the link between technical innovation and equitable provision, without which technological innovation will likely expand disparities in child outcomes rather than reduce them. While transforming human capability and disability, technical innovation also constantly reshapes our collective commitment to equality and social justice, and, in so doing, to the aspirations and promise of childhood.