Healing Disjuncture through Synthesizing Disability Theory with Engineering Design
APHA 139th Annual Meeting & Exposition
In concert with the conference theme of healthy communities promoting healthy minds and bodies, this session discusses and illustrates the interdisciplinary synthesis and research application of disability studies and state-of-the art engineering to improve communities, public health, and advancement of full participation. We focus on the use of smart robotics to “heal disjuncture” and decrease disparities in health, fitness, work, and social life. Disjuncture defines disability as the interactive ill-fit of atypical bodies and environments. Thus, through this theoretical lens, interdisciplinary solutions to improve the fit between bodies, environments and the function of individuals can be complex, contemporary, and creative. We begin the presentation with a discussion of how disjuncture theory guides the marriage of diverse thinking for innovation. We then illustrate with two research projects (ServiceBot and RRE) in which robotics, smart technology, and contemporary design were used to conceptualize, construct, and test innovative approaches to enhance fitness and social participation. Servicebot replicates the human motions of reaching, grasping, transporting and placing items for use or consumption. RRE (Robotic Rowing Exoskeleton) addresses critical barriers to full participation in and realization of the extensive benefits of fitness and sports activity. For people who need or want such assistance in order to participate in fitness activity, RRE augments movement, coordination, and strength necessary to use a typical rowing machine in any public fitness facility. We conclude with the outcome research and implications for future efforts guided by disjuncture theory and inquiry.