Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 107–118 | Cite as

Rethinking disability in Amartya Sen’s approach: ICT and equality of opportunity

  • Mario TobosoEmail author


This article presents an analysis of the concept of disability in Amartya Sen’s capabilities and functionings approach in the context of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Following a critical review of the concept of disability—from its traditional interpretation as an essentially medical concept to its later interpretation as a socially constructed category—we will introduce the concept of functional diversity. The importance of human diversity in the capabilities and functionings approach calls for incorporating this concept into the analysis of well-being and quality of life in persons with disability—aspects in which ICT currently plays a major role. When one contemplates these technologies, it becomes clear that factors such as accessibility, design for all, and user participation in development and implementation processes are key strategies in promoting equal rights and equal opportunity for persons with disability in the different environments of the information society.


Accessibility Amartya Sen Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities Design for all Disability Functional diversity ICT Medical model Social model 



This article is a result of the research project “Filosofía de las tecnociencias sociales y humanas” (FFI2008-03599) of the Spanish R&D Plan 2009–2011, and the CSIC Intramural project “Discapacidad, envejecimiento y calidad de vida” (200810I218).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tenured Scientist at the Department of Science, Technology and Society, Institute of PhilosophySpanish National Research Council CSICMadridSpain

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