Accessibility as Professional Practice


Session Abstract/Description: 

Accessibility is often represented as a problem of conditions. Bodily, material, and institutional, these conditions supposedly represent the lived experiences of marginalized communities. But to theorize mere conditions, we argue, is to theorize the atypical burden of atypical others. Some of C&W’s dearest theories, among them the potentialities of multimodal design, work in service of a norm. We can see this norm operating in our many professional spaces, from the Kairos webtext without alt tags to the C&C Online video without captions to our C&W gatherings, which assume able, conversant, socially assured scholar-attendees.

Our roundtable asks the following question: What if we consider accessibility as a practice? How might such a shift in focus transform the faces and spaces of our field? Despite our extensive training in learning to identify the affordances, influences, and cultural dynamics of the digital, we often fail to recognize the practices we participate in that create and sustain these normalizing conditions. The important lesson is that the normalizing conditions that are often unrecognized are precisely those that we have some ability to control. Rather than retrofit, we can work to transform the conditions themselves through practice. Our roundtable, then, seeks to further these conversations, to offer ways of thinking, tinkering, and practicing that go beyond the mechanical, the normal, and the conditional.


Dunkle 324

Building Location: 


Session I

Sunday, June 9, 2013 - 8:30am to 9:45pm