Abstract Information


Human Rights and Access to Technology by People with Spinal Cord Injury

1Bryden A, 1Gran B, 2Anderson K, 1Moynahan M
1Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA; 2Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, Miami, FL, USA

People with spinal cord injury (SCI) experience limitations that challenge physical, psychological, and social health. Interventions for remediating the effects of SCI are evolving. Unfortunately, such interventions can be financially prohibitive or available only in small clinical trials, often leaving important health needs unmet.

The human rights of people with SCI are inarguable from a moral perspective. Rights to technology are mandated extensively in the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ranging from communication technology to mobility aids. The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights articulates the right to benefit from scientific progress and its applications. Yet, persistent gaps between research and commercialization prevent those with SCI from benefitting from technology.

This course will explore the challenges and opportunities in making important technology aimed at reducing disability universally available to people with SCI. Human rights are universal, inalienable, and designed to promote equality. It is a violation of human rights to prevent access to technology that can enhance freedom of movement and foster independence. Specific issues surrounding access to technology for an orphan population such as SCI within the context of human rights will be discussed, including the responsibilities, risks and costs of constituents involved in technology development.

Seeking solutions for technology access from a human rights perspective also has potential value as a model for improving access to broader, specialized, rehabilitation interventions by people with SCI. Interactive discussion will be facilitated with the goal of effecting meaningful avenues for social action and ultimately, policy change.


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