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Access and tinkering: designing assistive technologies as political practice–A discussion with Zeynep Karagöz, Thomas Miebach and Daniel Wessolek

Tom Bieling (HAW Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany)
Melike Şahinol (Orient-Institut Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey)
Robert Stock (Humboldt University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany)
Anna–Lena Wiechern (ICAM, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Lüneburg, Germany)

Journal of Enabling Technologies

ISSN: 2398-6263

Article publication date: 30 August 2022

Issue publication date: 16 November 2022




This contribution shows perspectives of experts from different disciplines and professional backgrounds in order to elaborate on maker approaches such as do-it-yourself prosthetics and collaborative tools. As a result, aspects of open source practices related to medical and assistive technologies will be critically reflected upon. In addition, implications of heterogeneous interests, economic implications and everyday achievements of social material assemblages produced through participatory design research are discussed.


In order to address an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary perspective on the relationships between body (differences) and technology, it is necessary to bring together studies from both Science and Technology Studies (STS) and crip technoscience as well as approaches from participatory design research and practice. This challenge was addressed by a roundtable organized as part of the third network meeting of the Dis/Ability and Digital Media Research Network on 16 September 2020.


Against the backdrop of “crip technoscience” DIY and collaborative open source practices are not only understood as valuable alternatives to standardized medical prosthetics and assistive devices. These bottom-up approaches which draw from the expert knowledge of disabled users (Hamraie and Fritsch, 2019) also facilitate devices that defy categories such as “prosthetic” or “medical aid” not only aesthetically but semantically, too.


The Network Dis/Abilities and Digital Media intends to integrate media and technology studies with disability studies on a theoretical level. This round table discussion delivers proof of how – on the practical level – technology and dis/ability need to be thought of as relational and co-constitutive (Mills and Sterne, 2017).



The authors thank the research students Maximilian Mohr of Leuphana University and Celine Keuer of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin for their support in preparing the transcript for publication.

Funding: The roundtable “DIY-Prostheses, Toys and Remote-Prototyping” was part of the online workshop “Access and Tinkering: Designing Assistive Technologies as Political Practice” (16–17 September 2021) organized by the research network “Dis/Abilities and Digital Media” funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), project number 439948242.


Bieling, T., Şahinol, M., Stock, R. and Wiechern, A. (2022), "Access and tinkering: designing assistive technologies as political practice–A discussion with Zeynep Karagöz, Thomas Miebach and Daniel Wessolek", Journal of Enabling Technologies, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 231-242.



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