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Disability and the Teaching of Writing

posted: 4.4.11 by archived

I’m going to use today’s post for a bit of what may seem like self-promotion. But I hope I am providing links and directions to some resources you’ll find helpful for teaching students of varying abilities.

Studies tell us that somewhere between 9 percent and 11 percent of undergraduate students have a documented disability. We can safely assume that many more students either choose not to be tested, do not seek accommodations, or have undiagnosed disabilities. We know that according to these same studies, the number of students with disabilities has increased a lot: by one account, fivefold in the last 30 years; 9780312447250another study suggests an increase from 3 percent in 1978 to 9 percent in 2000. So the issue of how to accommodate students with disabilities in the classroom is an important one. I’m not going to offer advice and ideas here—instead I want to point to some resources that writing teachers might find useful.

Back in 2007, I worked with Cindy Lewiecki-Wilson and Brenda Brueggeman to edit the Bedford publication Disability and the Teaching of Writing. (You can request copies of this book from Bedford—all professional resources are free to instructors.) That was just a few years ago, but at the time the book was a major step forward: it was the first book to really bring together disability studies and composition pedagogy. Since then, such resources have been popping up all over the place.

The NCTE now has an official “Policy on Disability in CCCC.” There has also been quite a bit of exciting and important research published—resources that are free and easy to access online, and that are very practical and focused on pedagogy. For instance, in 2008 Amy Vidali, Margaret Price and Cynthia Lewiecki-Wilson coedited a special issue of the journal Disability Studies Quarterly on “Disability in the Undergraduate Classroom.” The November 2010 issue of English Journal is themed “Re-Seeing (Dis)Ability.”  The most recent edition of the journal Open Words is also themed around disability (I edited this issue—more self-promotion).

If you are going to be at CCCC in Atlanta this week and you want copies of this special issue of Open Words, copies of Disability and the Teaching of Writing, or if you want to bump into many of the authors I just mentioned, they will all be gathered at the Disability Access table outside of the book exhibit. This table is set up at the conference each year to provide support and materials to help conference attendees to navigate the conference, and to help presenters make their conference presentations more accessible.

At some point, some of the resources I’ve mentioned in this post might be useful to you.  Meanwhile, visit the Disability Access table in Atlanta to say hello or to ask questions.


Categories: Campus Issues, Jay Dolmage, Professional Conferences
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