Rebecca Rosen has an interview in The Atlantic with Sara Hendren, creator of the blog Abler. "All bodies are getting assistance from technology all the time," Rosen notes, "yet some [assistive technologies] are stigmatized:"
You have written and spoken extensively about the idea that “all technology is assistive technology.” What do you mean?
Scholars working in disability studies have called attention to this as a redundancy in technical terminology before me, and I’m trying to bring it to tech journalism: What technology would not be called assistive?
Indeed, the whole point of technology is to be assistive: there are no everyday technologies that don't help us do things, extend our physical abilities, augment our memories, etc. But we classify (and sigmatize) some technologies as "assistive," while placing others on the side of just plain old technology. As Hendren writes elsewhere,
Honestly—what technology are you using that’s not assistive? Your smartphone? Your eyeglasses? Headphones? And those three examples alone are assisting you in multiple registers: They’re enabling or augmenting a sensory experience, say, or providing navigational information. But they’re also allowing you to decide whether to be available for approach in public, or not; to check out or in on a conversation or meeting in a bunch of subtle ways; to identify, by your choice of brand or look, with one culture group and not another.
The boundary between assistive and "normal" technologies isn't solid. In my lifetime, eyeglasses have gone from being signs of nerdishness and weakness (when I was a kid in the South in the 1970s), to being fashion accessories (my son just ordered a new pair of Oakley prescription glasses). In the 19th century, canes were fashion as well as functional: now, unless you're a hiker who lives near a bespoke wood-turner with exquisite taste in driftwood, your cane options tend to look like props out of late-night infomercials about mail-order vitamin supplements.