What looked to most like an outrageous invention found an ally in the disability community. While many Twitter users were quick to deride a wearable exoskeleton chair, the disability and chronic illness communities pointed out how useful a traveling chair could be — and highlighted the ableism of those who said the device was only for “lazy” people.
The buzz started Wednesday when Tech Insider shared a video of the LEX exoskeleton wearable chair on Twitter. Created by the company Astride Bionix, the product is lightweight and folds down to create two legs for sitting and easily folds up out of the way for walking. Marketing materials sell the LEX as perfect for travel, work or commuting, any time you’re waiting in line.
This wearable chair could change how we work and travel pic.twitter.com/KO8QoUcrut
— Tech Insider (@techinsider) September 18, 2019
Twitter users were quick to make fun of the wearable device, saying it solved a problem that didn’t exist, was best for “lazy” people and other ableist comments. Those with disabilities and chronic illness who use mobility aids or are always on the lookout for products and devices to make life a little more comfortable, however, saw the LEX from a different perspective.
“I so often need a place to sit & can’t find one in public places. I don’t necessarily need or want a wheelchair all the time,” Esmé Weijun Wang wrote on Twitter. “I feel like the disability community is always reminding everyone that laziness is not the only reason for various inventions.”
I so often need a place to sit & can’t find one in public places. I don’t necessarily need or want a wheelchair all the time. I feel like the disability community is always reminding everyone that laziness is not the only reason for various inventions.
— Esmé Weijun Wang • 汪蔚君 (@esmewang) September 18, 2019
Others echoed Wang’s comments, saying the LEX could be really useful for some people while calling out the ableism or calling the product “lazy.”
So bummed to see so many people I respect being ableist in the comments. I know that sometimes it's hard to see things from a different point of view, and I partially blame the marketing, itself, but damn.https://t.co/Bj59mmwCE3
— Perpetually Exhausted (@nephthys0xa) September 18, 2019
This would be fantastic for me, a disabled person who requires mobility devices and can't stand for a long period of time without severe pain that would send most people to the hospital.
— Dorian ????️???? (@manamachina) September 18, 2019
wow, that would be a lifesaver for my bad days from spine injuries
— n_pedersen (@mbDunningKruger) September 18, 2019
Really disappointing to see how ableds cannot see the benefits of something like this. Just because you do not need it does not mean it isn't beneficial for someone else.
— rachel (@wander_luzt) September 18, 2019
The LEX exoskeleton device is currently only available for preorder for $399. It comes in four colors — black, red, blue and orange — and three sizes, including small, medium and large. It is expected to ship in December 2019.