Technology training and empowerment: Aspiration and employability for the disabled in Latin America


Much recent work has looked at the various ways in which access to computing has impacted empowerment for people with disabilities, though such research discusses conditions in the global North. We present here work from primary research among technology training centers for people with disabilities in Mexico, Ecuador, and Venezuela to explore the manifestations of empowerment that these services offer. In framing empowerment from two perspectives—those of ‘coping’ and ‘transforming’—we find that the two most important areas within this realm where technology seems to have an impact are in employability and aspiration. We find that although employment-generation has been slow through such training centers, a number of users
cite the need of basic technology training as a threshold minimum for employment and other benefits including a strengthening sense of community and a positive impact on self esteem. Supporting past work on ICTs and aspiration, our research finds that technology, especially when adapted to the specifications of disabled people, can increase both external aspirational horizons—for example in the types of jobs or education levels deemed
accessible—and interior measures of self-worth and capacity. By focusing on aspiration and self-perception, our goal here is also to recast the discussion on disability and technology towards an empowerment frame. The research presented here is intended as a starting point for such a discussion in what has been a domain within both Development Studies and Information Studies.

Recommended Citation

Neff, P., Pal, J., & Frix, M. (2009). Technology training and empowerment: Aspiration and employability for the disabled in Latin America. Paper presented at the Community Informatics Conference 2009: Empowering communities: learning from community informatics practice. Prato, Italy, October 2009.


ICT training, accessibility, aspiration