Piracy and the Impaired Cyborg: Assistive Technologies, Accessibility, and Access


This paper examines software piracy in the Global South from an accessibility lens, using the bio-technical metaphor of the cyborg. Drawing on qualitative interviews with people with visual impairment (VI) from India and Peru, the paper interrogates the intimate relationships that users have with assistive technologies (ATs). It outlines the effectiveness of ATs in allowing users to actively control and shape their own lives and identities, and describes the various modalities that regulate the human body, technology, and human body-technology linkages. The paper argues that software piracy, when looked through the lens of the cyborg, is an act of self-making that is motivated by a desire to gain autonomy and independence, i.e., it can be understood as a way to overcome the barriers that undermine access to the technological self. Further, software piracy allows a shift in the distribution of power from those who control and regulate the assistive technologies to the cyborgs themselves.

Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction