Born in Kuwait to Sikh parents, Virdi lost her hearing at age four to bacterial meningitis. By age six, her working-class family immigrated to Toronto, Ontario where she would later attend a school for deaf and hard-of-hearing children. A product of “mainstreamed” education, Virdi learned to lip-read and rely on her hearing aids. She attended public high schools, then received her Bachelors’ degree in the philosophy of science from York University. After graduation, she worked in marketing and fashion merchandising before deciding to return to school for graduate study. She received first her masters, then her doctorate, from the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto, focusing on the history of medicine and technology.
Virdi is currently working on multiple projects. Her second book, Medicalizing Deafness: Aural Surgery in Nineteenth Century Britain (McGill-Queen’s University Press) traces the efforts of British aurists (ear specialists), examining how their attempts to define a professional identity influenced educational, progressive, and eugenicist programs to eradicate deafness. She is co-writing Setting Standards: Phyllis M. Tookey Kerridge and the Science of Disability in Interwar Britain (Johns Hopkins University Press) with Dr. Coreen McGuire on a study of the historical roots of scientific research on disabilities–such as deafness and breathlessness–and the role of women scientists. Focusing on Phyllis Kerridge’s work, this book examines how scientific instruments were used by women to demonstrate the value of their research against criticism and to assert control over disabled subjects. Virdi’s fourth book, Designing the Hearing Aid incorporates history of science perspectives to examine how the engineering and calibration of 20th century hearing aids were informed by design adaptions made by deaf people. In addition, Virdi is writing An Invisible Epidemic, a study of endometriosis based on her own experiences with the disease within the context of gender bias in medicine.
A seasoned public speaker, Virdi has delivered keynotes on histories of medical inequities, social injustice, disability rights, and contemporary issues of technological accessibility.
Hearing Happiness: Deafness Cures in History
History of Assistive Technology
Roots in Resistance: A Social History of Captioning
Gender, Disability & Art
For more information on Dr Virdi’s keynotes and discussions, please contact email@example.com