Hi everyone! After seeing all these great blog posts, I wasn’t sure what to say—so many interesting people doing so many different interesting projects! So let’s see…
My name is Allison, and I’m a second-year PhD student in the Composition & Cultural Rhetoric program at Syracuse University. I’m also pursuing a Certificate of Advanced Study in Disability Studies (SU is home to the nation’s first disability studies program).
Lately, I’ve been drawn to the intersections of composition and dis/ability—how students with diverse abilities access sites of composition (writing center spaces, classroom spaces, etc.) and how they compose themselves as rhetorical beings. Last year, I spent a lot of time thinking about how multimodal pedagogies—that account for students’ different learning needs, incorporate different modalities, and encourage the use of different technologies—parallel with principles of universal design. I’m really interested in the parallels between UD and multimodality because, in many ways, multimodal pedagogies are more accessible to students with diverse backgrounds, literacies, and bodies—at the same time, though, discussions of multimodality don’t seem to explicitly address issues of accessibility.
My interests in access(ibility) heavily influence my interests in DH. This year, I’m working on a few different projects relevant to DH. First is a digital archival project that archives texts that came out of the Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers. The FWWCP, based out of the UK, consisted of different groups of “ordinary” working class people—across lines of gender, race, and ability—who wanted to share their stories with others. The Fed Archive is an attempt to protect these narratives from falling to the wayside and to contextualize the project itself.
Another project I’m working on is “This We Believe.” Influenced by the work done by the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) during the Great Depression, this project (FWP 2.0) is an attempt to continue discussions of democracy and how we shape and re-shape our cultural understandings of “America.” This is a digital project that gives students, teachers, and everyday citizens opportunities to record their own brief (2-minute) narratives about what democracy means to them.
And finally, an ongoing project is how we can universally design both teaching and tutoring practices. With tutoring, in particular, I’m exploring ableist assumptions and inaccessible tutoring practices within writing center sessions. Even though writing center practices value students' different knowledges and composing processes, we often default to practices framed for students with particular abilities. The standard read-aloud model, for example, privileges able-bodied students who hear, speak, and can focus for long periods of time. Students who do not respond to these practices, then, are treated differently. What I’m interested in exploring are different strategies and practices that account for students’ different bodily experiences. My guess, although technology certainly isn’t a save-all, is that there are some particular technologies and digital practices that can make writing center (and classroom) interactions more accessible to students.
An example of how accessibility is not just a physical but also a pedagogical concern (via crippencartoons.co.uk)
I look forward to reading more of your all’s blog posts, and I'd be very interested to know of particular strategies (especially tech-based) that you all use for creating more accessible pedagogies.