This paper proposes an analysis of sound and voice technologies for speech-impaired people as sites of knowledge production about disability. It will focus on the case of Google’s project to reunite speech-impaired users with their voices using voice cloning technology, an evolution of speech synthesis which allows for the reconstruction of the sonic and timbric characteristics of an individual person’s voice. Addressing both the narratives and representations – which reveal a medical model of disability as an external flaw to be cured through technology – and the material practices and operations enacted by those technologies – which highlight epistemologies of human variation, embodiment and accessibility built into the software – the paper argues that disability as a social construct is co-constituted between those levels. In this regard it proposes a socio-technical model of disability theorization which unites techno-scientific knowledge, cultural values, images of the user, material operations and organizational practices. From this perspective the paper argues that the study of disabilities would benefit from the contribution of organization studies and media studies, in order to reveal the constructedness of disability and able-bodiedness, and the role of media technologies, institutions, and representations in producing and upholding – as well as potentially challenging – such constructions.

Reuniting speech-impaired people with their voices: Sound technologies for disability and why they matter for organization studies

Napolitano, Domenico
2021

Abstract

This paper proposes an analysis of sound and voice technologies for speech-impaired people as sites of knowledge production about disability. It will focus on the case of Google’s project to reunite speech-impaired users with their voices using voice cloning technology, an evolution of speech synthesis which allows for the reconstruction of the sonic and timbric characteristics of an individual person’s voice. Addressing both the narratives and representations – which reveal a medical model of disability as an external flaw to be cured through technology – and the material practices and operations enacted by those technologies – which highlight epistemologies of human variation, embodiment and accessibility built into the software – the paper argues that disability as a social construct is co-constituted between those levels. In this regard it proposes a socio-technical model of disability theorization which unites techno-scientific knowledge, cultural values, images of the user, material operations and organizational practices. From this perspective the paper argues that the study of disabilities would benefit from the contribution of organization studies and media studies, in order to reveal the constructedness of disability and able-bodiedness, and the role of media technologies, institutions, and representations in producing and upholding – as well as potentially challenging – such constructions.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12570/24353
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