White Rose University Consortium logo
University of Leeds logo University of Sheffield logo York University logo

A short history of powered wheelchairs

Woods, B. and Watson, N. (2003) A short history of powered wheelchairs. Assistive Technology, 15 ( 2). pp. 164-180. ISSN 1040-0435

Full text not available from this repository.


This article recounts some early findings on a history of powered wheelchairs in the 20th century from an analysis of archival materials, oral accounts, and secondary sources. The primary goal of this article is not to provide the definitive history of powered wheelchairs, but rather to further our understanding of wheelchair innovation through a historical analysis. The paper sheds light on some of the richness and complexities involved in powered wheelchair innovation, highlights the nonlinearity of that process, and explores the roles of and the relationships between social and technological change. Although it is evident that powered mobility has revolutionized the life experiences of many disabled people, enabling independence, social interaction, and even the facilitation of socio-psychological development, few have charted the social and technological topography that brought this revolutionary change about. In partially mapping the history of powered wheelchairs, this paper draws attention to the idea that wheelchairs are not simply technical devices, but also social and political machines entwined with socio-political conditions and expectations.

Item Type: Article
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > Science and Technology Studies Unit (SATSU) (York)
Depositing User: York RAE Import
Date Deposited: 18 Aug 2009 10:29
Last Modified: 18 Aug 2009 10:29
Status: Published
Publisher: RESNA
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/5666

Actions (repository staff only: login required)