Often, accessibility is—as Jay Dolmage and John Slatin have argued—a retrofit or add on. That is, it is often not an integral part of our theoretical conversations, classroom spaces, and technologies. It is this attention to technology, though, which focuses this forum and can—in many ways—begin to centralize dis/ability. For example, clear online accessibility guidelines developed by such initiatives as The Accessibility Project and WebAIM bring diverse user experiences to the forefront of web design. Assistive technologies, and even everyday technologies (like the iPad and mobile device apps), offer resources and opportunities for dis/abled users to communicate and participate in new ways. Indeed, new media seems to be invigorating academic interest in accessibility—as evidenced in articles about accessibility and the digital humanities and conferences such as THATCamp Accessibility 2012.
Converging at the intersections of disability theory, pedagogy, and media studies, this forum intends to harness both theoretical and praxical discussions. We are interested in sharing ideas about how disability theory can positively intersect with our larger understandings of accessibility and the potentiality of technologies and multimodality. We are interested in classroom practices—the practical strategies folks have developed for increasing accessibility and centralizing issues of dis/ability as both material condition and social construct. We are interested in the everyday ways that we—as scholars and researchers and teachers—take up (or don’t, for various personal or institutional reasons) the challenge of creating more accessible physical and digital spaces for learning, teaching, and researching.
- What strategies do you use in your classrooms to increase accessibility or even to cater to or accommodate particular disabilities? What challenges have you faced making your classroom more accessible? Have some strategies backfired? Are there particular issues that have prevented you from making accessibility-related changes?
- What technologies are people using (whether assistive technologies or broader tech like YouTube & Twitter) to meet the needs of students? What technologies are used to create and/or support online disability identities?
- How can our own scholarly research be more accessible? I mean this both in terms of wider availability (open access publishing, perhaps) and in terms of ensuring that a range of people with various physical differences can access our new media projects. How might accessibility enhance a digital or multimodal project?
- How does disability theory intersect with technology, particularly in relation to race & resistance studies; “assistive” technologies; innovation, hacking & appropriation; and gender & queer studies?
Video of Meryl Alper's Ignite Talk: Making Space in the Makerspace: Building a Mixed-Ability Maker Culture
Photo caption: A square image of 8 disability icons, clockwise (from top-left): wheelchair access, telephone typewriter tty service, assistive listening systems, sign language interpretation, closed captioning, Braille, low-vision access, volume control telephone.
Hosted by HASTAC Scholars:
Allison Hitt: Composition & Cultural Rhetoric, Syracuse University
Meryl Alper: Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California
Melissa Helquist: Technical Communication and Rhetoric, Texas Tech University
Stephanie Rosen: Department of English, University of Texas at Austin
Jay Dolmage: Department of English, University of Waterloo
Alan Foley: Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation (IDD&E), School of Education, Syracuse University
Mara Mills: Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, NYU
Cyndi Rowland: Center for Persons with Disabilities, Utah State University