Overload: Telephone Switchboard Operation and the Disability History of 0s and 1s

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Mara Mills is Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University and founding co-director of the NYU Center for Disability Studies. She is also a founding editorial board member of Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience. She is recently co-editor of Testing Hearing: The Making of Modern Aurality (Oxford 2020), Crip Authorship: Disability as Method (NYU 2023), and a forthcoming special issue of Osiris on "Disability and the History of Science" (2024). Upcoming publications include the NSF funded edited collection How to be Disabled in a Pandemic (NYU Press), a coauthored book with Jonathan Sterne on time stretching, and an NEH-funded collaborative research project with Michele Friedner on "The Global Cochlear Implant."

Her talk will look at the impact of workers' compensation law on pre-employment health screenings and the exclusion of disabled people from telephone switchboard operation. At the same time, technical and management innovations led to increased workloads and new disability claims among those who were hired. She argues that disability played a significant role in the automation of switchboards beginning in the 1920s—a key episode in digital history and an early moment in the ongoing workplace automation wave.

Rebecca Scales/Corinna Schlombs
Event Snapshot
When and Where
November 02, 2023
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Room/Location: LBR A205

This is an RIT Only Event

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deaf community
interdisciplinary studies
student experience
technology, the arts, and design