ITP II: Access Hacks for First-Year Writing Teachers

Note: I’ve updated this post.

This project is a resource guide aimed at novice writing teachers. 

First-year writing is a crucial course for CUNY students. A tenth of college students are registered with their campus disability office. Yet, maddeningly, access is still often framed as a compliance issue rather than as a site for pedagogy. If that tenth of our student body is to have a fair shot at success at their public college, first-year writing is an area where this thinking must shift.

In a project that takes the form of a public site on CUNY Academic Commons and a more-private CUNY Academic Commons group, I aim to demonstrate:

  • the rhetorical potential of alt-text writing assignments
  • the uses of social reading plug-ins like on the transcripts of long-form audio journalism (Floodlines, Lost Notes: 1980, season 3 of Serial)
  • the application of accessible document design principles for word processing to organizing student essays
  • that smartphone access features such as screenreaders can make literacy practices multimodal
  • the importance of open lesson plans—for ASL-English interpreters, their students, and everybody else 
  • syllabi language that aligns accessibility with other student-centered and equity-minded, care-centered policies (ie: translanguaging, OER, contracts)

This project is guided by thinking on disability studies, open access pedagogies, feminist ethics of care, trauma-informed pedagogy, and cellphone scholarship. It’s also marked by my own experiences in the classroom—teaching as a disabled instructor for 15 years, learning as a disabled student for 25.

As CUNY transitions back to aging and often inaccessible physical campuses, it’s my hope that the conversation about digital access that COVID-19 has forced will continue in this group + site. Ultimately, its goal is to help CUNY produce writing teachers capable of doing what a doctoral student named Margaret Price did for me at my public college: to use reflective, student-centered writing pedagogy to make equitable the student experience of a disabled writer.