Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Increasing Participation of Persons With Intellectual Disabilities With Smart Socio‐Technical Arrangements

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Abstract:  “Smart devices” and “smart applications” open up a wide range of opportunities for the individual. Today, the vast majority of the population in Europe uses electronic devices with a multitude of “smart applications” as an aid in everyday life. One part of society that could arguably benefit more from these types of technology is that part comprised of persons with disabilities. Statistics show that persons with disabilities, especially those with intellectual disabilities, own and use fewer electronic devices than other parts of the population. Several authors have addressed this issue, referring to it as the “digital divide.” In this argumentative article, we advocate a social‐relational understanding of disability and conceptualise “smartness” as an attribute for situations (and neither for devices and applications nor for people). Through what we call “smart socio‐technical arrangements,” persons with intellectual disabilities potentially gain a higher level of activity and more independence. It appears that an individualised technology environment can contribute to the enablement and increase of participation of each person. The article links up with an applied research project analysing the establishment of socio‐technical arrangements not only for, but also with persons with intellectual disabilities. Our main question here is how to adequately conceptualise the “smartness” of situations for persons with intellectual disabilities. We argue that the use of devices as components of socio‐technical arrangements can optimally lead to smart situations in which persons with intellectual disabilities are more active and less restricted in their activities and participation. “Smartness” then is a synonym for functioning and an antonym of disability.

Keywords:  intellectual disabilities; participation; smart applications; smart devices; smart situations; smart socio‐technical arrangements; smartness; technology use



© Verena Wahl, Florian Kiuppis. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.