Hi, my name is Ashley Shew, and I manage this website, which developed in the context of a course on the subject of Technology and Disability. I serve as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society at Virginia Tech, where I focus on issues in philosophy of technology. I am a faculty affiliate of the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought (ASPECT) program and a board member of the Society for Philosophy and Technology.

Current Research

Four images atop and below a blue stripe with the name and author. The pictures feature a chimpanzee with a stick tool, a spider sitting in a web, a beaver dam, and the side of a raven black bird's head.

My current research agenda focuses on the representation of disabled bodies in technological imagination and coincides with research themes of my Technology and Disability course.

My first book, Animal Constructions and  Technological Knowledge (2017), was published with Lexington‘s series in Postphenomenology and Philosophy of Technology. Animal Constructions and Technological Knowledge situates the use of tools by non-human animals in the context of theories about technological knowledge and argues that the material work of animals has significance for philosophy and epistemology of technology.


I am co-editor (with Joseph C. PittSpaces for the Future: A Companion to Philosophy of Technology (Routledge 2017). This agenda-setting volume, filled with all new pieces in contemporary philosophy of technology, seeks to anticipate pressing and enduring issues in phil-tech research and features many fresh voices. My own work on the place of animals in philosophy of technology is featured in the volume.

a book cover, blue with a starfield and the words Spaces for the Future in white, edited by Joseph C. Pitt and Ashley Shew

While I have long enjoyed incorporating topics in technology and disability in my teaching of ethics, controversies about technologies, and philosophy of technology, the topic now plays an even larger role in my life and in my research. I became multiply disabled during 2013-2014 as I was treated for an aggressive form of bone cancer called osteosarcoma. A hard-of-hearing, chemobrained amputee, I am now disabled – and working on a new project about new legs, walking, techno-optimism, techno-ableism, and the lived experience of disability.


two feet on a sandy beach wearing purple tevas, one foot is white flesh and the other is fake and painted blue with wary looking googly eyes that seem to gaze cautiously at the coming tide

In 2016, I had the pleasure of giving invited talks and getting valuable feedback about some of this work (“We Can Rebuild You: Disabled Bodies and Technological Imagination”) at Cal Poly and Old Dominion. I also presented at the IEEE Ethics 2016 on “Up-Standing Norms,” slides  here. In November 2016, I participated in a panel the Philosophy of Science Association Meeting, where I presented on the quantification of walking, slides here. I also had the opportunity to present two papers on themes in technology and disability during the June 2017 Society for Philosophy and Technology conference in Darmstadt; my slides from a presentation on phil-tech pedagogy in Technology and Disability can be found here.

Papers Currently Under Construction:

  • “The Minded Body in Disability and Technology” (rough first version slides here) –  presented at both the SEPOT Workshop in September 2017 and the American Philosophical Association Eastern Division in January 2018
  • “Ableism and AI” – first draft currently under review for an edited volume
  • “Transmobility: Possibilities for Cyborg (Cripborg) Bodies” with co-authors Mallory Kay Nelson and Bethany Stevens – a creative scholarly fun journal article about our cripborg bodies

Extra-curricular Work

Aside from my academic work, I’ve been writing a few first-person essays; some of these have been published over the past year and are available online:


My other roles include:

disability alliance and caucus at VT logo - rainbow infinity dragged by stylized action wheelchair user image

  • Faculty advisor, Disability Alliance at Virginia Tech
    • You can also find us on Facebook and as a VT Google Group with low-volume listserv!
  • Treasurer, Disability Caucus at Virginia Tech
    • We often meet in conjunction with the Disability Alliance, solidarity on campus disability issues.
  • Chair, Board of Directors, New River Valley Disability  Resource Center
    • Proud to serve my region’s newish Center for Independent Living!