A key aim of the European Union is the development of an inclusive, reflective and innovative society. This aim also includes people with disabilities. If conceptualized and used in the right way, Assistive Technologies (ATs) can be a key enabler of the participation of people with disabilities in society in general and in education and employment in particular.
The aim of this project is to anticipate how ATs might or might not increase the inclusion of people with disabilities all over Europe by 2050. Emerging technical developments – which might also play themselves out depending on how they are governed and used – are e.g., brain to text, sign language to speech, brain computer interfaces, social robots or self-driving cars.
Whether in the areas of education, employment, health or general living assistance, the importance of the development of ATs for people with disabilities will continue to grow. The definition and meaning of what an assistive technology is, is still very much contested in the academic but also political debate. Therefore, a sound foresight analysis of the state of the art as well as future trends of ATs is needed to evaluate societal and political options that would properly address the needs of people with disabilities, enable a positive perception of people with disabilities, and thus support the inclusion of people with disabilities in Europe’s society.
ATs for the inclusion of disabled people in society, education and jobs will be investigated for three different types of disabilities (subject areas):
- Deaf and hard of hearing
- Blind and visually impaired
- People with autism
In terms of methodology, the approach follows the Scientific Foresight method that STOA tailored to serve the European Parliament. Next to a literature review, qualitative and quantitative empirical research will also be performed by means of interviews and an on-line survey. The focus will be on the needs and perceptions of assistive technologies, by disabled and non-disabled people. As a result, four narrative scenarios will be created, discussed at the European Parliament, and visualized as a short video.