Carleton Researchers Publish a Wheelchair History of Disability in Canada

Carleton University researchers have released a project entitled A Wheelchair History of Disability in Canada. The team sought to answer questions such as:

  • Can we learn more about disability through an interdisciplinary approach?
  • Can we use an assistive device to see relationships between technology, societal attitudes, professional claims of knowledge and the goals of the person using the device?

Quick Facts

  • This interdisciplinary project brings together Carleton experts in the fields of engineering (Adrian Chan), social work (Roy Hanes) and history (Dominique Marshall and Doctoral candidate Dorothy Smith) to explore the history of disability in Canada.
  • The exhibit is intended to encourage the public and specialists to explore the connections between technology, society, and the experience of disability.
  • Carleton experts partnered with Canadian museums to create the virtual exhibit.
  • The Canada Museum of Science and Technology was a key partner in giving access to the full range of wheelchairs and information in their collection.
  • Smith researched and developed an exhibit on one assistive technology – the wheelchair – as a means of examining the interplay between technology, society, medical and rehabilitation professionals, and people with disabilities.

Quotes: 

Old wheelchairs tell extraordinary stories about the people who used them, made them and lived around them. Dorothy collected their images and the information about them, determined to rescue from the past the beliefs, actions, hopes and hardships that surround these artifacts.  We hope that the website will generate as many questions and surprises as we shared during the year of the making of this project.” Dominique Marshall, professor and chair of the Department of History.

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