Imagery of Disabled People within Social Robotics Research

  • Sophya Yumakulov
  • Dean Yergens
  • Gregor Wolbring
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7621)


Social robotics is an emerging field, with many applications envisioned for people with disabilities. This paper explores these applications and the portrayal of people with disabilities within the social robotics discourse. Our review of social robotics literature revealed that social robotics mainly portrays disabled people through a medical/body ability deficiency lens, namely identifying deficient abilities, and then proposing how a certain robot can fix them and give the individual “normal” functioning. However, within the Disabled People Rights Movement, the academic field of disability studies, and existing legal documents, a second narrative is evident which focuses less on ‘fixing’ the person to the species-typical norm, and more on increasing the participation in society of that person the way they are. We submit that the second type of narrative and its way of defining problems and solutions needs more visibility within the social robotics discourse and in the vision of possible products.


Social robotics people with disabilities normalization diversity ability expectations imagery narrative 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sophya Yumakulov
    • 1
  • Dean Yergens
    • 1
  • Gregor Wolbring
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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