Access for All: The Role of Dis/ability in Multiliteracy Centers

Hitt, Allison
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“Linked to the notion of multiliteracies is the challenge to develop more equitable social futures by redistributing the means of communication.” – John Trimbur (30) “For all students to have access to those things composition has to offer—literate ‘skills,’ a voice, the words to write the world—we must ensure that disability is recognized and respected.” – Jay Dolmage (15) In David Sheridan and James Inman’s 2010 edited collection, Multiliteracy Centers: Writing Center Work, New Media, and Multimodal Rhetoric, Inman discusses designing a multiliteracy center.1 He writes, “A final, but vital, consideration should be the accessibility of any zoned space for individuals with disabilities. In this pursuit, the idea is not just to make spaces minimally accessible, but instead to consider how the disabled may be able to most fully participate in the uses for which the spaces were designed” (Inman 27). This comes as the last “special issue” of consideration for design (28). Though Inman highlights disability and access, these issues are not taken up further as pedagogical considerations. I believe that we need to explore and broaden our understandings of disability as more than a physical design issue and of accessibility as more than an issue for students with disabilities. The creation of multiliteracy centers, spaces “equal to the diversity of semiotic options composers have in the 21st century” (Sheridan 6), presents an opportunity to position disability within the larger context of diverse learners in order to better understand how we can create more accessible multiliterate spaces and pedagogies.