Against Technoableism: Rethinking Who Needs Improvement

Ashley Shew

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. more

NonfictionDisabilityTechnologyEssaysSociologyAudiobookPoliticsScienceDisability StudiesSocial Justice

160 pages, Hardcover
First published W. W. Norton & Company

4.38

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608

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123

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Ashley Shew

5 books 13 followers

Ashley Shew is an associate professor of science, technology, and society at Virginia Tech, and specializes in disability studies and technology ethics. Her books include Against Technoableism, Animal Constructions, and Technological Knowledge and Spaces for the Future (coedited). She lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.

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Jung
405 reviews
63 followers
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As a paraplegic/double amputee with spina bifida who is now also dealing with bladder cancer, I found myself captivated by Ashley Shew's passionate and well informed disability manifesto "Against Technoableism: Rethinking Who Needs Improvement. " Just today, I was having a conversation with my supervisor about internalized ableism and my tendency, especially since my cancer diagnosis, to apologize for my disability within the work setting. Ugh. At less than 200 pages, "Against Technoableism" is a relentless, breathlessly paced, and well structured exploration of exactly why we need to eliminate technoableism - "the harmful belief that technology is a “solution” for disability; that the disabled simply await being “fixed” by technological wizardry; that making society more accessible and equitable is somehow a lesser priority. "Quoting many of the top voices in disability, including many of whom I consider friends, Shew has crafted an invaluable resource and introduction to disability expertise that considers mobility devices, medical infrastructure, neurodivergence, and the crucial relationship between disability and race. more


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Jennifer
507 reviews
27 followers
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[3. 5 stars] Essays from a disabled and neurodivergent professor that complicate the rise of technology as a solution to the existence of disability and impairment. In general, I think this book has some solid central theses: Disability exists in the future. Efforts to eliminate physical, mental, intellectual, or developmental disability are rooted in ableism and eugenics. Technology and science are not and should not be used or relied upon to control, decrease, or eliminate the prevalence of disability or neurodivergence, especially by non-abled people and society. more


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Morgan
132 reviews
86 followers
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By focusing on disability as an individual problem, not a social one, abled people often focus on disability technologies as the "solution" to eliminate the disability altogether. But what do disabled people think. This insightful (and compact) overview of disability, ableism, and the role of tech in the lives of disabled people is a real eye-opener. Though many disabled people may rely on tech to help them live their lives, they take a different approach to the tech, aware of the many unresolved concerns about those technologies and learning to piece together different types of technology appropriate to different needs and situations in their lives. This book really helps to unpack the various ways ableism prevents us from seeing how tech might or might not be beneficial to disabled people, and it stresses the point that the experts on disability are the people who experience it -- and that we need to listen to the voices of disabled people to address the ways they still feel left out of society today. more


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Charlotte
308 reviews
19 followers
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*4. 5Against Technoableism is a fantastic read for anyone who wants a good introduction to ableism as well as how society sees technology as a way to "fix" disabilities. I really enjoyed Ashley Shew's straightforwardness but I do wish the book had slowed down a bit with its pacing. more


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Morgan Rohbock
436 reviews
29 followers
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A must read in disability literature that looks at every aspect of society and it’s role in technology being made to “fix” us while never really even being marketed to or accessible to us for a variety of frankly unfair and arbritrary reasons. A lot of this has to do with societies perception of disabled people as a whole, but includes other factors like race and gender. if you know someone with a disability, physical, sensory, mental ect, please read this book instead of asking me why I don’t qualify for SSI. 😂. more


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Bailey
945 reviews
65 followers
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4. 5⭐ on 🎧One of those short books that packs a punch in thinking about how much technology, treatment and other "solutions" for disabled people are designed assuming they must normalize into society and adhere to its standards compared to celebrating the amazing community, culture and skills the disability community has created and thrives today. Read this to be a better person in the world to all fellow humans. more


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Danielle
455 reviews
20 followers
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This was such a great, short book that gets to the point about disability technologies and who exactly benefits from what is currently available, and asks us to imagine different disabled futures. I really enjoyed learning about the amputee technologies, as that's something I haven't had experience with in my work or close relationships. The chapter about neurodiversity and autistic technologies was so well said and managed to be concise while also fully fleshing out the many arguments against our current systems (namely ABA "therapy") that endeavor towards normalcy in the eyes of the allistics, at the cost of autistic personhood. Overall, a really great book that I would recommend for people who are new to disability studies/disability justice, as well as those seasoned in the topic. more


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katherine ⚢
56 reviews
1 followers
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The sort of book I wish everyone would read. Our biases around disability run very deep, to the extent that we rarely question why we encourage disabled people to utilize technology to fit in to the existing built world and not the other way around. This book provides an essential paradigm shift in an approachable way. more


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Bailey
116 reviews
3 followers
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just so good . more


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Jude
35 reviews
13 followers
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Lots to like here, and lots of information to digest. Strongest points include the fact that disabled people are the true experts on their disabilities; the fact that attempting to eradicate all disability is deeply ableist and rooted in eugenics; and that experiencing disability at some point in our lives is a foregone conclusion for most of us. Shew’s voice is super engaging, and the audiobook narration was well done. I wish there was more of a deep dive on some of the topics she covered, and the ending felt a little abrupt. All in all, I think this is a really important read and I recommend it for anyone wanting to be a better, more informed ally to disabled people. more


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Elizabeth Schmidt
72 reviews
3 followers
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This book is an excellent introduction to disability justice as a whole with a bit of a deep dive on technoableism. It's fairly short and concise while still being full of information. One thing that the author expressed over and over again is that tech for disabled people needs to have input from disabled people along every step of the way. The book really helps express why that needs to be and gives some very good examples of what happens when the disability community is not consulted about the things they themselves will use. It also talks about access to tech for disabled people, barriers to that (including financial barriers), and how it doesn't really matter what tech we have if we can't access it. more


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Fiona
37 reviews
1 followers
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I agree with her premise and some of her arguments. However, the book’s structure detracts from the thesis. The author includes lots of information, but it’s very disorganized. It’s disappointing, because I think her message is incredibly important. . more


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Tutankhamun18
1004 reviews
16 followers
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I would recommend this to anyone who isn't disabled- gave a really good point of view of how technology has become so normalized for 'fixing' disabilities. more


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Mackenzie Marrow
267 reviews
5 followers
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“Before they will listen to the rest, they need the story, need to find out how inspired they should be. ” This short book is a really great introduction to disability, ableism and the medical and social model of disability and the role of technology in assisting with dosability and how technological solutions are to a large extent individualising solutions that do not address environmental and social causes of disability. “Disability, which today is a category of understanding, is actually a historical concept that developed relative to work, employment, and edu-cation. Historical and social factors underpin how disability is defined and how people are grouped. ”“So many of our stories about technology and disability are about technologies as redemptive, as having the power to normalize disabled people, to make us "overcome" our disabilities. more


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kostas
4 reviews
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An incredible and accessible manifesto of the quiet (and sometimes loud) ways that ableism creeps into our technological "advances". I was already pretty well versed in the technoableism that deaf and hoh people experience with hearing devices and cochlear implants, but Shew opens the conversation up even further to robotic prosthetics, wheelchair adjustments, space travel, and more. Shew isn't necessarily harping against advancements to help disabled people interact with a world not made for them (especially if they are a willing part of the process)- but her focus is looking more at, why should disabled people have to change when we could just as easily change our basic structures and culture to be accessible by default. "Not everyone can use stairs but everyone can use a ramp" argument. I appreciated Shew taking the time to talk about technoableism and how it affects neurodivergent people as well. more


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Carina Stopenski
206 reviews
5 followers
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as a disabled person in tech, this was the book i needed. Ashley Shew’s Against Technoableism presents key questions for non disabled and disabled readers alike: who is disability tech for, who is left out, and what does a disabled future look like. covering topics near and dear to her while bringing in expertise for experiences outside her own, shew covers a lot of ground with care and passion. the structure of the book being faster paced really gelled with how i read and think about different topics. i appreciated the statement that it could be read non-linearly. more


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Lindsey
490 reviews
25 followers
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thank you to netgalley for the arc of this title. this interesting little nugget of autotheory is a must-read for any scholar of disability studies, bodyminds, or transhumanist thought. shew seamlessly blends the experiences of disabled individuals, herself included, with accessible data and qualitative information to create a text that does remarkable work delineating the current move to cyborgism in the technologizing of disabled bodies, and does so in a way that is compelling and can evoke empathy from an abled reader. reading this as a disabled person, not only did i feel incredibly seen, but i feel shew articulates her arguments in a way that even non-scholars can understand, truly showing that disability studies is for everyone. . more


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Abby Shade
59 reviews
1 followers
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This is a fantastic and quick read that I would recommend for literally anyone. New to nonfiction. Read this book. Think you're already familiar with the topic. Nah, read this book. more


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Shana Zucker
188 reviews
23 followers
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Super readable & concise intro or maybe “201” level to disability justice. I honestly wish it was a little longer and went more in depth on specific topics rather than bouncing around trying to cover such a wide array of topics and themes, but still enjoyed it. It took me back to the Disability Justice class I took in college and was a good reminder of all of the infinite ways this community overlaps/intersects with other justice movements. . more


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Jane
82 reviews
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A marvelous primer that clearly delineates ways in which ableism is omnipresent and primes the reader to begin to imagine ways we can dismantle these systems and restructure our world for the better by utilizing the strength that comes from disability. I especially appreciated the notes on amputee fittings as I was unfamiliar with the numerous associated challenges. . more


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Rhiannon
219 reviews
35 followers
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Asks questions everyone should be thinking about. Important for its cautious references to universal design, ADA and building code. Great footnotes as well. “Disabled ecologies” will stick with me for a while. more


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Lucy Corkran
2 reviews
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An insightful, straightforward look at the biases behind technoableism that centers disabled people and their experiences. This book is quick and clear, and does a great job at highlighting the ableist biases in our society and the issues that come from seeing disability as an individual "obstacle" to be overcome through technology and optimization. more


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Abigail
886 reviews
34 followers
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Extremely important for disabled and able bodied people to read and understand. It highlights how important disabled perspectives and how necessary they are in actually helping make the world more accessible. I hope people who read it understand that disability is not something to be fixed. more


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blannah
67 reviews
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Great timing for me to read this as my family is just starting our journey of understanding my husband’s disabilities. This book is top of my recommended for 2024. . more


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Todd Zeke
24 reviews
1 followers
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Anytime I think I’ve started to grasp the impact of capitalism & our economic systems on our lives, I get humbled and learn a lot more. Really accessible, with loads of concrete examples and places to read to on. more


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Risa
90 reviews
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an absolutely necessary disability justice primer . more


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Kara Estelle-Powers
21 reviews
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I can tell she is interested in space which I appreciate because I am also interested in space. Also this was great. more


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Lindsey Sullivan
160 reviews
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3. 5 stars. Worth a read for a good overview/introduction on an important topic. There was a fair amount of redundancy, especially for something so short, and a few places where I thought the point got a bit lost. more


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Dani
59 reviews
2 followers
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Excellent quick read about how disability isn’t something to be fixed. Great stuff. more


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So, I am the exact audience for this book. Like, really, if the author was writing a book just for me as a human, it would be this book. I'm a disabled mother of two disabled kids. We all use technology in different ways for our disabilities. I'm a trained self-advocate who just finished a comprehensive disability justice advocacy training program that has changed how I think about disability and myself as a member of the disabled community. more


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