Changing the relationship between disability and technology

A major new research project is harnessing a diverse range of disciplines to examine how technologists can learn from people with disabilities – and support them in the future.

Led by the University of Leeds, Imagining Technologies for Disability Futures will for the first time bring together expertise in arts and humanities, design, engineering and robotics to increase understanding of how disability is currently represented, and ways in which technology can enhance lives in the future.

Funded with a flagship Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award in Humanities and Social Sciences, the £1.5m five year project will begin in January 2020. A variety of disability groups across the UK will be closely involved in shaping the project, which includes researchers from the universities of Sheffield, Dundee and Exeter and international partners in the US, Japan and Sweden.

Principal Investigator Professor Stuart Murray said:

“From care and companionship robots to sophisticated assistive speech technology systems, well-designed technology that fully takes account of users’ needs can be a great force for positive change.

“This is a unique project, bringing together researchers across the world from very different backgrounds. Our aim is to better understand how disability and technology interact and how that interaction could develop in the future, with an ever-increasing rate of technological change.”

Dr Raymond Holt from the School of Mechanical Engineering is a co-investigator. The project – the first to be funded by Wellcome at Leeds through the Collaborative Award scheme – draws together several of the University’s research and innovation strengths, including medical humanities, healthcare technologies and robotics.

Further information

For interviews and further details, contact University of Leeds Media Relations and Communications Manager Gareth Dant via or +44(0)113 343996.

The Wellcome Trust exists to improve health by helping great ideas to thrive. It supports researchers, takes on big health challenges, campaigns for better science, and helps everyone get involved with science and health research. It is a politically and financially independent foundation.

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