Against Technoableism: Rethinking Who Needs Improvement (A Norton Short) (Hardcover)
A manifesto exploding what we think we know about disability, and arguing that disabled people are the real experts when it comes to technology and disability.
When bioethicist and professor Ashley Shew became a self-described “hard-of-hearing chemobrained amputee with Crohn’s disease and tinnitus,” there was no returning to “normal.” Suddenly well-meaning people called her an “inspiration” while grocery shopping, or viewed her as a needy recipient of technological wizardry. Most disabled people don’t want what the abled assume they want—nor are they generally asked. Why do abled people frame disability as an individual problem that calls for technological solutions, rather than a social one?
In a warm, feisty, opinionated voice and vibrant prose, Shew shows how we can create better narratives and more accessible futures by drawing from the insights of the cross-disability community. For the future is surely disabled—whether through changing climate, new diseases, or even through space travel. It’s time we looked closely at how we all think about disability technologies and learn to envision disabilities not as liabilities, but as skill sets enabling all of us to navigate a challenging world.
About the Author
Ashley Shew is an associate professor of science, technology, and society at Virginia Tech and specializes in disability studies and technology ethics. With support from the Mellon Foundation, she is developing a Disability Community Technology (DisCoTec) Center in collaboration with UNC-Charlotte and Virginia Tech. Her previous books include Animal Constructions and Technological Knowledge and Spaces for the Future. She lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Against Technoableism reveals design justice not only for those with disabilities but for everyone who labors and lives with technology. It's an outstanding book.
— Stephen Kuusisto, author of Have Dog, Will Travel: A Poet’s Journey
This is a crucial book. Authorative, witty, thoughtful, and unafraid to throw a punch, Ashley Shew pushes us headlong toward a much-needed world in which disabled people are seen as experts in their lives, curators of their stories, and vibrant, essential, generative parts of our collective future.
— Ed Yong, author of An Immense World
This book is a really big deal. This is the kind of book that—decades from now—people will still talk about. This book marks a before and after. Before the word 'technoableism' and after the word 'technoableism.' People will say: We did not know what to call it. And then Ashley Shew named it. And then we understood the profound effects of technoableism on our lives. And when I write 'people,' I do not mean disabled people only. I mean all people who have anything to do with technology. This book is for us.
— The Cyborg Jillian Weise, author of The Colony
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