Scholarly Articles/Book Chapters

The following annotated bibliography serves as a reference of “quick reads” for busy WPAs and composition instructors, who wish to learn more about disability studies, generally, and a disability perspective in the composition classroom, more specifically. This list may also prove useful as a starting point for TA/Instructor Training about disability issues.

Brizee, Allen, Morgan Sousa, and Dana Lynn Driscoll. “Writing Centers and Students with Disabilities: The User-centered approach, Participatory Design, and Empirical Research as Collaborative Methodologies.” Computers and Composition, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 341-366.

This considers how writing centers, specifically, can support the needs of disabled students. However, this text offers valuable definitions and approaches for “universal design” and “participatory design” as well as for creating an inclusive space for disabled students to compose.

Brueggmann, Brenda Jo. “An Enabling Pedagogy: Meditations on Writing and Disability.” JAC, vol. 21, no. 4, pp. 791-820.

This text reflects on Brueggemann’s disability (hearing impairment) as insightful to teaching of writing and the teaching of a disability perspective. Brueggemann also offers reflections on the limitations of disability services and the university, at large, in providing accommodations to disabled students (and faculty). Moreover, she reflects on her own practices of crafting an “‘enabling pedagogy,’ a theory and practice of teaching that posits disability as insight” (795).

Dolmage, Jay. “Writing Against Normal: Navigating a Corporeal Turn.” Composing Media Composing Embodiment, edited by Kristin L. Arola and Anne Wysocki. Utah State University Press, 2012.

Dolmage argues that composition pedagogies often rest on normative assumptions of what it means to compose and what kinds of bodies engage in the composing process. As such, he argues for embodied perspectives in the field of composition studies, which “reconnect mind, body and writing and…do so not on ideals but on the body (and the text) as meaningfully messy and incomplete” (125).

Dolmage, Jay. “Mapping Composition: Inviting Disability in the Front Door.” Disability and the Teaching of Writing, edited by Cynthia Lewiecki-Wilson and Brenda Jo Brueggeman. Bedford/St. Martins, 2008, pp. 14-27.

In this text, Dolmage argues that it is the composition instructor’s responsibility to create an accessible pedagogy and resists ideas that “access is distributed from the top down” (15). In doing so, he argues against “retrofits” which attempt to create accessible solutions once a need arises. He also suggests that Universal Design is not enough to create an accessible learning environment, but requires an ongoing conversation about how to create accessibility.

Hitt, Allison. “Access for All: The Role of Dis/ability in Multiliteracy Centers.” Praxis: A Writing Center Journal, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 1-7.

Hitt considers accessibility within multiliteracy centers, but offers valuable insights about how to create both a “spatially and pedagogically accessible” environment for composing multiliteracy assignments. Specifically, Hitt argues that Universal Design approaches recognize the range of bodies and abilities that compose. Moreover, Universal Design anticipates the needs of a range bodies and abilities, thereby avoiding retrofits.

Fox, Bess. “Embodying the Writer in the Multimodal Classroom through Disability Studies.” Computers and Composition, vol. 30, no, 1, pp. 266-282.

Fox argues that multimodality can help students to understand the embodied nature of writing and, in doing so, help them to become more attune to the needs of disabled audiences. Moreover, Fox positions the composer’s body as “a rich site of knowing” from which composer’s can draw to understand and inform their own composing processes (274). As such, this text is useful for overturning the Cartesian mind/body split that has, at least until more recently, dominated many composition pedagogies.

Nielsen, Danielle. “Universal Design in First-Year Composition–Why Do We Need It, How Can We Do It?” The CEA Forum, 2013, pp. 3-29.

In this text, Nielsen argues that Universal Design for Learning improves accessibility for all composition students, not just those who are disabled. Moreover, Nielsen offers strategies for creating an accessible composition pedagogy, which includes such recommendations as recognizing that students may not have the tools needed to compose digitally (19) and technology does not necessarily increase accessibility (22). As such, this text will be particularly useful for WPAs and compositions wanting practical strategies about how to implement the principles of universal design to improve the accessibility of their program and/or pedagogy.

Oswal, Sushil K. and Lisa Meloncon. “Saying No to the Checklist: Shifting from an Ideology of Normalcy to an Ideology of Inclusion in Online Writing Instruction.WPA: Writing Program Administration, vol. 40, no. 3, pp. 61-77.

Oswal and Meloncon argue that although well-intentioned, the principles of Universal Design are often used as a checklist for accessibility, which results in WPAs and instructors failing to critically engage “with accessibility issues for curricula planning” (67). Instead, they argue that WPAs and composition instructors should consider the multiplicity of disability and develop effective strategies based on that knowledge. Moreover, they argue that any approach to accessibility should effectively engage participatory design, which involves students in curriculum design.

Walters, Shannon. “Toward an Accessible Pedagogy: Dis/ability, Multimodality, and Universal Design in the Technical Communication Classroom. Technical Communication Quarterly, vol. 19, no. 4, pp. 427-454.

In this text, Walters critiques pedagogies that rely on disability services to provide accommodations for students, since students underreport disabilities. Moreover, she critiques impairment-specific approaches to accessible pedagogies because they fail to account for invisible disabilities and do not consider the ways that particular environments and situations might create disability. As a response to these critiques, Walters argue for a Universal Design approach, which offers a range of considerations for accessibility that benefits all users, not just those who are visibly disabled. 

Yergeau, Melanie, Elizabeth Brewer, Stephanie Kerschbaum, Sushil K. Oswal, Margaret Price, Cynthia L. Selfe, Michael J. Salvo, and Franny Howes. “Multimodality in Motion.” Kairos, vol. 18, no. 1,

Yergeau et al. offer the critique that many multimodal texts fail to be “commensurable across modes” and suggest that “inaccessible multimodal spaces are too often remedied by…retrofit.” They suggest that multimodal texts should be designed with disabled audiences in mind. Moreover, they argue against finding individual/impairment specific approaches to disabilities. Although this text does not explicitly address writing program administration and/or teaching composition, it is useful for considering how to accessibly perform multimodality as a pedagogy and how to teach students to create accessible multimodal compositions.