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Bionic vision, social work, and community development: a research participant's reflections
journal contributionposted on 2018-02-01, 00:00 authored by Dianne Ashworth
This article discusses bionic vision through the author's experiences as Australia's first research participant in an early prototype bionic eye trial. During her two-year participation, she drew on various theoretical perspectives, including critical and community development approaches that not only influence her professional social work perspective, but extend to her personal worldview. In a rapidly emerging biotechnological age, this article contributes a holistic perspective, bringing into focus theory and practice; issues of human experience, human rights, and oppressive relationships; tensions between agency and structure (particularly relating to disability from a social model of disability and the medical model); and practical applications of artificial vision. Beyond its practical applications, illuminated is the relevance of community development values and principles such as a sense of connectedness, participation, and empowerment, which are understood in terms of an antioppressive perspective. The article concludes by recognizing the potential benefit of bionic vision for vision-impaired and blind people in their everyday lives.