Assistance – On the History of Assistive Ensembles (2nd Meeting of the network “Dis-/Abilities and Digital Media”) 17-19 March 2021 #ststwitter

The category of assistive technologies is often discussed as a political category (Alper 2017), as they invoke connotations such as “in need of help” with respect to the respective users (Mills 2015; Kotsch 2012; Ott 2014). At this meeting, the concept of assistance will be historically situated and questioned. The aim is to problematize the question of what meanings have been attributed to the concept of assistance in the context of dis/abilities in the history of digital media and what place the term takes in current debates about bodies with varying abilities.

The tensions between specific possibilities and barriers posed by digital assistance technologies will be the core issue of the meeting. Therefore, the interaction of discourses on assistive devices and practices with assistive devices will be considered from different perspectives and disciplines. We approach the topic based on empirical studies ranging from the history of computers to contemporary practices of augmentative communication via speech computers, and propose to discuss the significance of ensembles of assistive technologies. By exploring the interactions between different areas of life in which assistive technologies are developed and used in everyday practice, we hope to gain a broad understanding of the socio-political significance of assistance.

Please find information and details about the online meeting of the network “Dis/Abilities and Digital Media ” on 17-19 March 2021 on the website.

We are happy to have Merly Alper (Northeastern University) as keynote speaker.

Note that the public discussion on assistive media, access and academic exchange on 17 March will be in German only. Please contact Maximilian Mohr to receive the link for the Zoom video conference to join the public discussion and keynote.

Email: shkmedas [at]