Mid-Semester Post

So far this semester, the following activities and discussions have been introduced —

Field Trips to the library to learn how to measure bathrooms to ADA Title II specifications with Mike Kutnak and to the Assistive Tech Lab with Christa Miller.

Pam Vickers, ADA Coordinator, and Mike Kutnak came to our class to tell us about the ADA and their work.

Josh Earle, class participant, led us in discussion and reflection on the history of eugenics.

We’ve talked about the social model of disability, inclusion v. compliance, transhumanism, eugenics, social resistance to new technologies, media depictions of disability, social meanings of mobility technologies, pre-ADA retrofit, the policing of disability, and identity issues as they relate to technology choice.

Technologies we’ve looked at in particular include ones aimed at hearing, mobility and walking, online access, and infrastructure.

I’ve been pleased by the engagement of the class. Many of your adventure plans are looking great, and I’m excited about our last three classes of presentations about the work you are developing. Thanks for playing along!

First week

Thanks to you all for your participation during the first week of class. I’m even more excited about the semester.

Please be reminded that Adventure Plans are due September 10th. Can’t wait to see what future of project grading you will be inventing for me! Please contact me (shew at vt dot edu) if you have any questions or just want to bounce some ideas around.

First Post & Introduction

Welcome to the Course Site for Fall 2015’s “Technology & Disability” course. While the semester has not yet begun, I’m setting up a structure to fill with content during the coming semester, so please bear with the current disorganization!

I’m Ashley Shew, course instructor, page admin, and assistant professor in STS at Virginia Tech. I’ve published work on nanotechnology & society, am engaged with the interdisciplinary graduate education program on Regenerative Medicine at VT, work in the area of philosophy of technology, and am an amputee.

I’m interested in when, how, and why technologies are adopted or fail to be adpted when they are made. Now at the outset of a project on the intersection between philosophy of technology and disability studies, I am so excited to learn with this class. My book project, which I’m calling Human Again: Technology, Enhancement, and Disability, will offer readers an introduction to philosophy of technology and disability studies. By placing primacy on the lived experience of disability in the context of technological enhancement and in the context of assumptions about the nature of technology and disability, I hope to highlight the tensions we all often feel about any technology – the seduction of the new, the tug of the familiar, the incorporation of identity into the things we use, and the way identity and perception set up around technologies.

With a focus on the lived experience of technology and body, I invite students to develop and deepen their own specific research interests in line with the course theme. We will engage with the course theme through a variety of mediums – academic articles, memoirs and personal reflections, field trips to engineering labs that focus on assistive technologies, relevant documentaries, and a variety of guest speakers. This class requires a “hands-on, minds-on” approach, and I cannot wait to dig into the content with class participants!