On September 17 the premises of the Academy of Sciences were the venue for the closing event of the Ethics and Health – Education beyond Normalising Appreciation – project. What does it mean to be normal? And what are the effects of new technologies on the relationship between man and medicine, or on the lives of older people? For two years, schoolchildren, teachers and scientists addressed these questions intensively. The results were also presented in book form.
Prototype shoe for the visually impaired
Special highlights of the event included the "WalkAssist" developed by the Mistelbach Higher Technical College, shoes specially designed for visually impaired people, or the research by Karin Seper on the topic of sexuality in old age. The WalkAssist is a very good demonstration of how user views are integrated in the development of assistive technologies – the shoe flashes and emits sounds as soon as the installed sensors recognise an obstacle.
Sexuality in old age – a taboo
According to Seper, a graduate of the Bachelor's degree course in health and patient care at the hospital of the Brotherhood of Compassion in Vienna, there is still little discussion about the topic of sexuality in old age. The lack of acceptance triggers a greater dilemma amongst men than among women, since hardly anyone talks about this topic.
Giving everyone a voice
Julia Lichtenwallner and Tobias Haas, Bachelors in health and patient care at the Vienna University of Technology, conducted an experimental research process within the framework of the project. The aim was to focus on ethics as a central aspect and to include the dignity of people with handicaps or chronic illnesses in all stages of the development of technologies. Katharina Pecher and Alina Vojacek, a teacher and a graduate of the grammar school at Parhamerplatz in Vienna, addressed the topic of standards in teaching literature. They were looking for alternative content that also addressed young people with a different cultural or social background.
The deputy director of the ITA, Walter Peissl, was involved in the organisation of the event. Doris Pfabigan and Sabine Zelger of the University of Vienna presented the results of the two-year research work in their book “Mehr als Ethik. Reden über Körper und Gesundheitsnormen im Unterricht.” (Vienna, facultas wuv 2012). The Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture was represented by Kurt Nekula, who spoke about the challenges facing the teaching of ethics