SciAccess 2024 Speakers

The Science Accessibility Conference

Dr. Ashley Shew

Dr. Ashley Shew

Disability Advocate, Author, and Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society.
Lachi

Lachi

Award-winning recording artist, GRAMMYs Board Governor, and Founder/CEO of RAMPD.org

Additional speakers to be announced soon.

Portrait of Ashley Shew

Ashley Shew

Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society at Virginia Tech

Ashley Shew is an Associate Professor in Science, Technology, and Society at Virginia Tech, where she participates in the STS PhD program, Medicine & Society minor, and Disability Studies minor; she’s the current director of the Bioethics graduate certificate, and a longtime executive committee member with the Integrative Graduate Education Program on Regenerative Medicine. Her current research is about disabled expertise and disability-led narratives about technologies (in contrast to the tropey stories in dominant media). She’s working on open educational resources on Technology & Disability with Hanna Herdegen, Damien Williams, and a team of undergraduate research assistants, made possible through NSF Grant #1750260 (2018-2023). Her book Against Technoableism: Rethinking Who Needs Improvement came out September 2023 with Norton. Shew is lead investigator in an Andrew W. Mellon grant on Just Disability Tech (2023-2025) aimed at starting a regional Disability Community Technology Center, fostering disabled-led research consulting, disability justice-oriented artist residencies and education, and community-building game play.

Ashley’s past work has been in philosophy of technology with particular interest in technological knowledge, animal studies, and emerging technologies. She is a current co-editor-in-chief (with Kirk Besmer) of Techné, the journal of the Society for Philosophy and Technology. She is sole author of Technological Knowledge and Animal Constructions (2017) and co-editor of three philosophy of technology volumes: Spaces for the Future (with Joe Pitt, 2017), Feedback Loops (with Andrew Garnar, 2020), and Reimagining Philosophy and Technology, Reinventing Ihde (with Glen Miller, 2020). Shew believes in cross-disciplinary, cross-disability, and public-facing scholarship: she has written for IEEE Technology & Society, WIRED, Nursing Clio, Nature, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Inside Higher Ed. She is a grateful participant with her local disability advocacy and activist community in the Disability Alliance and Caucus at Virginia Tech and the New River Valley Disability Resource Center (a CIL). 

Lachi

Lachi

Award-winning recording artist, GRAMMYs Board Governor, and Founder/CEO of RAMPD.org

As a globally touring performer, charting recording artist and award-winning social entrepreneur, Lachi—born legally blind—uses her platform in music, storytelling and fashion to amplify identity pride and Disability Culture to mainstream discussion. From walking the New York Fashion Week and Barbie Premiere carpets with a bejeweled cane to belting ballads on the TEDx stage, Lachi incorporates her disability identity into all aspects of her art, and art into all aspects of her activism. Her work has been lauded in the New York Times, Billboard, Forbes, Good Morning America and USA Today, where she was named a 2024 Woman of the Year.

Lachi is Founder of the U.N.-recognized organization RAMPD (Recording Artists and Music Professionals with Disabilities), which—through collaborations with firms like Netflix, SONY Pictures Entertainment, TIDAL and more—brings disability-inclusive programming to the industry and career opportunity to music professionals with disabilities, neurodivergence, and chronic and mental health conditions. RAMPD partners with the GRAMMYs and other notable concerts, festivals and events on high-visibility accessibility and inclusion. In 2023 RAMPD received Ford funding, a Music Business Association award, and a Borealis Philanthropy award for working to bridge the inequality gap for hundreds of music professionals.

Lachi also governs on the GRAMMYs New York Chapter Board and advises on the National Independent Venue Association, Songwriters of North America and Audio Engineering Society DEI Committees.

As an artist and personality, Lachi partners with international artists and brands, touring globally, to bring her positive spin on disability to international audiences through purpose-driven projects. Her 2023 pop track “Lift Me Up”, celebrating American Sign Language and disability community, peaked at #29 on the national Adult Contemporary Radio charts, airing on BETSoul, MTV.com, and receiving millions of streams across platforms in its first week. She has twice appeared on PBS, hosting segments amplifying disabled rebels, voiced audio-description for Netflix's Kanye West docu-series, published her NYU study assessing accessibility in the recording industry at the 2023 Audio Engineering Society convention, and regularly holds discussions with top music entities on actionable accessibility and inclusion strategies.

Outside of this, Lachi consults or keynotes and performs at festivals, national firms, nonprofits, universities and cultural centers globally to advance disability, identity and culture. She's done so with the White House, UN, the BBC, CNBC, Lincoln Center, Julliard, Google, Amazon, FOX corp and many others. 

Named a "dedicated foot soldier for disability pride" by Forbes, Lachi’s been featured in Essence, Vogue and LA Times for her advocacy work. She has been listed in Cranes Business 40 Under 40, received a Social Justice Award from New York City Nightlife United, was honored in 100 Women to Know presented by JPMorgan / Chase, named a 2023 Leading Woman by Adage and recognized by both GRAMMY.com and LinkedIn as a go-to voice in disability inclusion.