Oswal, S. K., & Meloncon, L. (2017). Saying No to the Checklist: Shifting from an Ideology of Normalcy to an Ideology of Inclusion in Online Writing Instruction. WPA. Writing Program Administration, 40(3), 17.
Note: All pull quotes below are from this paper. The additional comments and questions are my own, unless otherwise attributed
Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Quality Matters Rubric (QM), and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) checklists “perpetuate an idea of normalcy” and should not be blindly applied but rather engaged with critically by online writing course (OWC) educators.
- To recommend a way forward for OWC that is meaningfully inclusive of students with disabilities.
- To argue for a “move from an ideology of normalcy to an ideology of inclusion.”
- Writing Studies, Online Writing Instruction and Disability Studies literature
Note: authors’ reference a theoretical framework relative to the above but it is not outlined here.
Note: authors’ positionality or bias is not addressed although professional bios are included.
Note: authors are both interdisciplinary, having technical communication and disability studies fields backgrounds
- literature review
- normative argument based on secondary sources and presumably on the experience of the authors’ but that isn’t directly addressed.
- critique of three popular checklist tools “used to plan, implement, and assess online course construction and delivery”
- Quality Matters assessment rubric (QM)
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
- Universal Design for Learning framework (UDL)
- to realize “the goal of a user-centered accessible design for OWI” authors recommend participatory course development
- instructor works with students (of all abilities) in the course to discuss/determine course materials, assignments etc. that meet the accessibility needs of the group
- authors suggest that repeating this model over time will build the educators’ awareness of real-life accessibility needs better than adherence to a blanket checklist ever could.
- QM fails to address accessibility issues
- WCAG is too technical / techie to be easily used by WPA
- UDL principles are broad and can be applied without awareness of disability, accessibility, or accessible technologies
My Notes With Quotes:
To Do: Review all cited works
Observation: The criticism of what these authors refer to as “checklists” is similar to the argument made by Sarah Lewthwaite and David Sloan in Exploring Pedagogical Culture for Accessibility Education in Computing Science that the notion of “best practices” is incongruent with any pedagogical approach that honours socially constructed knowledge. This is an important argument for me.
Observation: This position statement implies the courses should be accessible to all. It logically follows that the read/writing skills needed to produce accessible course content would need to be taught / reviewed / assessed. How often does that happen?
Observation: There is a strong emphasis in the paper on the responsibility of educators to build skills and awareness but what about the responsibility of the students? The co-creators? Still feels like there is sense of “distributed learning” underlying the argument, rather than socially constructed learning.
Question: What kind of references are these? What would be the appropriate alternative in APA for what looks like citing your own previous works?
To do: Look up other papers by these authors to see if they did a qualitative or quantitative study on “paying attention” to accessibility.
Observation: I have a similar sense but I’m wondering what support the authors have for this claim. Statements like this one make me think the authors are drawing on personal experience.
Question: The authors are faculty. As a masters student, would I need to be able to substantiate a claim like this? If I made a claim based on discussions with professional and academic colleagues, what’s the appropriate way to cite that claim?
Observation: This supports my concern that educators would hesitate to see how WACG applies to their workflow. This is why I’ve separated out the reading/writing-related guidelines – I’m curious to know if the skills are more easily incorporated into workflow and pedagogy when they can be read as literacies.
Observation: there is no one disability or accessibility experience, but could we not improve our understandings/conversations if we built language / literacies / awareness?
Observation: I’m intrigued by this discussion of frailties. Are we so discomforted by our own fragility that we assume others are discomforted by theirs? Is that why, relative to issues of race, class or gender, we hesitate to openly discuss ablism / accessibility in classrooms (with students) or critically engage with it in pedagogy?
Question: Is literacy that disregards the language skills and proficiencies needed to communicate effectively with people who use assistive technologies in digital environments ablist literacy?
To Do: Look up Rhetorical Accessibility: At the Intersection of Technical Communication and Disability Studies journal. It is edited by co-author Lisa Meloncon.