Web Standards and the Majority World / Rhetorical AccessAbility: Out Now!


Front cover of Rhetorical AccessAbility edited by Lisa Meloncon
Front cover of Rhetorical AccessAbility

A new book Rhetorical AccessAbility: At the Intersection of Technical Communication and Disability Studies, edited by Lisa Meloncon at the University of Cincinnati is out now!

I penned a chapter for this book in collaboration with Henny Swan, Senior Accessibility Specialist (iPlayer and Mobile) at the BBC. Together we consider ‘Web Standards and the Majority World’, taking a socio-cultural look at the values that web standards convey to a global audience.  In particular we were interested in examining the ways in which Web Standards can export Minority (that is developed/Northern/post-industrial) notions of disability to the Majority world, with potentially counter-productive results. We make our arguments by attending closely to Web Standards as a form of technical writing through the lens of critical disability studies and research. Disability scholars might be interested to know that aspects of this chapter were informed by MMU‘s inaugural Disability and the Majority World conference, an event (now with accompanying journal Disability and the Global South) developed by Dr Shaun Grech that seeks to globalize disability studies.

Rhetorical AccessAbility is published as part of Baywood’s Technical Communications Series (Edited by series editor Charles H. Sides). The publishers’ book summary follows.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Rhetorical Accessability is the first text to bring the fields of technical communication and disability studies into conversation. The two fields also share a pragmatic foundation in their concern with accommodation and accessibility—that is, the material practice of making social and technical environments and texts as readily available, easy to use, and/or understandable as possible to as many people as possible, including those with disabilities. Through its concern with the pragmatic, theoretically grounded work of helping users interface effectively and seamlessly with technologies, the field of technical communication is perfectly poised to put the theoretical work of disability studies into practice. In other words, technical communication could ideally be seen as a bridge between disability theories and web accessibility practices.

While technical communicators are ideally positioned to solve communication problems and to determine the best delivery method, those same issues are compounded when they are viewed through the dual lens of accessibility and disability. With the increasing use of wireless, expanding global marketplaces, increasing prevalence of technology in our daily lives, and ongoing changes of writing through and with technology, technical communicators need to be acutely aware of issues involved with accessibility and disability.

This collection will advance the field of technical communication by expanding the conceptual apparatus for understanding the intersections among disability studies, technical communication, and accessibility and by offering new perspectives, theories, and features that can only emerge when different fields are brought into conversation with one another.

Intended Audience: Scholars and practitioners of technical communication, disability studies, rhetoric, and usability/user experience. Suitable for advanced undergraduate and graduate classes in: web design; document design/information design; topics courses in technical communication and disability studies; cultural studies courses in internet or digital culture; introduction to the field of technical communication; research methods; and rhetorical theory.

Further details include the following reviews in praise of the book.

Rhetorical Accessability is an important book, not only because it elucidates a range of critical work being done at the intersection of technical communication and disability studies, but, more importantly, because it demonstrates convincingly how work in these areas—which some still consider highly specialized concerns—directly affects every one of us, every day, whether we know it or not. By foregrounding the productive interplay of theories from disability studies and technical communication, the authors highlight how issues of inclusive content, accessible design, medical discourse, and technological embodiment are at work in all of our daily lives. In so doing, Rhetorical Accessability represents a major step toward a broader field of writing studies, toward work on crucial issues in writing that span personal, academic, civic, and professional discourses, that unite scholars of rhetoric, composition, technical communication, literacy studies, linguistics, and other fields.

Paul Heilker, Director of the PhD in Rhetoric and Writing, Virginia Tech.

On every page, this groundbreaking collection—the first of its kind in the field of technical communication—reminds us that disability studies deserves to play a central role in our pedagogies, workplace practices, and scholarship. Lisa Meloncon has assembled an excellent, wide-ranging collection of chapters from both established experts and new scholars. The topics and theoretical lenses are diverse and broad. The chapters are deeply grounded and well-informed. They combine theory and practice in true tech comm fashion. The coverage of web accessibility is excellent, comprising multiple chapters and topics (e-readers, laws, guidelines, accessibility statements, online writing instruction). I’m already planning to add this book to the list of required readings for my graduate course in Web Accessibility and Disability Studies.”

Sean Zdenek, Associate Professor of Technical Communication and Rhetoric, Texas Tech University.

I can’t wait to read my copy. Congratulations to Lisa and all involved!

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