The role of enabling technologies for employment of people with disabilities


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Against many policy initiatives, people with disabilities still face lower opportunities for participation in all life domains. Participation in labour appears to be particularly important for improving life chances. The current transformations in the word of labour and digitalisation could be a chance for increasing inclusion and overcoming barriers as well as being a source for new assistive technologies. But the current transformations also create new barriers and produce new opportunities for exclusion. Will innovations in the world of labour improve or worsen participation?

This special issue focusses on the triangle between employment, people with disabilities (in the notion of the ICF <>) and enabling technologies as well as innovations for participation within this triangle. We seek examples of enabling technologies fostering labour market participation as well as innovations in the use of enabling technologies for employment or other forms of labour market participation (e.g. supported work, internships or occupational education or rehabilitation). 

The aim of the special issue is to cover different international and interdisciplinary perspectives on the possibilities of inclusion in the work context through enabling technologies. Through a variety of theories, methods, and disciplinary perspectives, this special issue intends to improve the understanding of the relationships between labour market participation, people with disabilities and enabling technologies. Thereby, this special issue will cover the heterogeneity of the group of people with disabilities as well as different work contexts and different technologies. Similarly, transition processes from different institutions to the labour market should be studied. Individual and structural conditions for successful use of technologies should be addressed. Likewise, we encourage researchers who do not have their focus on marginalised groups to apply the lens of inclusion to their research at the intersection of work and technology.

On the one hand, the central originality of this special issue will be the innovative focus on the topic from an interdisciplinary perspective at the intersections between rehabilitation science, sociology of work and Human Factors/Ergonomics. On the other hand represents the labour/work centered perspective on people with disabilities a topic of increasing interest to both practitioners in the industry as well as researchers - in Europe not to the least due to the European Accessibility Act that is becoming part of EU member-states’ national legislations in the next few years (e.g. in Germany from July 2025). Both aspects provide us with the opportunity to present empirical and theoretical contributions that speak not only to a multitude of scientific communities, but also industry practitioners with the clear potential to foster inter- and transdisciplinary discourse on responsible innovation in the field of enabling technologies for inclusive workplaces.

The issue understands "disability" in congruence with the UN's International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health (ICF) "as a result of an interaction between a person (with a health condition) and that person's contextual factors (environmental factors and personal factors). In other words, disability is not seen as an individual's intrinsic feature but a result of interaction in an environment. The interaction of the same person with the health condition may yield different functioning level in different environments. (..) Disability covers a spectrum of various levels of functioning at body level, person level and societal level. Disability denotes all of the following: (a) impairments in body functions and structures, (b) limitations in activity, (c) restriction in participation".

This issue is open for theoretical contributions as well as empirical studies and cases. Information on submission types can be found in the author guidelines.


List of topic areas

Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Discourses on the difference between "enabling technologies", “assistive technologies” and "mainstream/everyday technologies". 
  • Technologies/technology design and workplace innovation for improvement of labour market participation of people with disabilities 
  • Influence conditions for technology in labour market participation and inclusive workplaces (e.g. personal, organisational, structural, legal/societal conditions)
  • Can the use of everyday technologies help overcome the 'othering' of people with disabilities by using assistive technologies?
  • Interrelation between people with disabilities, labour and technology
  • Embedding of technologies into the tasks/work process of individuals (task-technology-fit) and/or mitigation strategies such as workarounds to ensure workability
  • The role of innovation as a driver for labour market participation


Guest Editors

Bastian Pelka,
Technische Universität Dortmund, Germany,
[email protected]

Frauke Mörike,
Technische Universität Dortmund, Germany,
[email protected]

Lena Hünefeld,
Technische Universität Dortmund, Germany,
[email protected]


Submissions Information

Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available by clicking the button below.

Submit your paper here!

Author guidelines must be strictly followed.

Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to “Please select the issue you are submitting to”. 

Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.


Key Deadlines

Opening date for manuscripts submissions: 18 September 2023
Closing date for manuscripts submission: 31 January 2024    
Email for submission queries: [email protected]