Elizabeth DePoy

M.S.W. University of Pennsylvania
Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania

Elizabeth DePoy is professor of social work, interdisciplinary disability studies, and cooperating faculty in Mechanical Engineering. She also holds an appointment as Senior Research Fellow. Ono Academic College, Research Institute for Health and Medical Professions. Kiryat Ono, Israel. A theorist and researcher, she is best known for her work in methods of inquiry, humanness and infrahumanization of disabled populations, and disjuncture theory. Building on legitimacy theory and her previously Co-authored with Stephen Gilson, DePoy analyzes the role of the legitimate body, behavior and human experience in bestowing or challenging notions of human essence.

Applying an interdisciplinary theoretical synthesis to healing disjuncture, DePoy has engaged in two collaborative research agendas.  The first is the development of aesthetically pleasing, highly functional mobility equipment.  Her ongoing research with Gilson and Vince Caccese, applies engineering, electronic surveillance and monitoring, human centered co-design and robotic science to the creation of juncture. The first product, the AFARI (http://mobility-tech.com), a three wheeled aesthetically designed mobility support for outdoor walking, jogging and running is now commercialized and is now part of the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt Design Museum Collection.  Current research and development in progress in progress in this agenda include adaptive mobility supports for X-Country skiing, and a modular mobility system with automated braking and electronic gait monitoring.  Depoy’s second research agenda examines adaptive strategies used by aging farmers including innovations and unmet needs.

In her most recent writing in press, DePoy, with co-author Gilson, applies design and branding theories and practices to the analysis of diversity categories, their membership, and their maintenance. She asserts that current approaches to understanding and responding to diversity as essentialist categories are grand narratives that advantage the market and professional economy, and urges professionals to rethink and revise these conceptualizations if profound social change within a 21st century global context is to be accomplished.

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