Disability Rhetoric

disabling writing, in a good way

Category Archives: Uncategorized

Letter to CCCC re: SJAC Priorities

CCCC Disability Standing Group Letter to Asao (PDF version)

This letter was published on Oct. 13, 2017 and is sponsored by the CCCC Standing Group on Disability Studies. For reference to the original solicitation for feedback, visit Asao B. Inoue’s blog, Infrequent Words, accessible here: http://asaobinoue.blogspot.com/2017/10/4c18-update-sjac-priorities-are.html.

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Dear Asao,

Thank you for publishing the SJAC’s priorities and soliciting feedback. I am writing to you as a Co-Chair of the Disability Studies Standing Group. We had a lengthy email discussion about the current state of the conference and the SJAC’s proposals, and we agree that we wish to act in solidarity with members of our sibling caucuses and standing groups, especially those that centrally represent Black scholars and scholars of color. Here are our main questions:

-The Disability Studies Standing Group is glad that CCCC is talking seriously about implementing virtual presence to the conference, and we hope that these measures are implemented intentionally. How will CCCC ensure that virtual presence is accessible both for the in-person attendees and the virtual attendees? Will there be captions? Also, members expressed concern about the larger concept of remote attendance: does this create a second-tier experience for members of color who do not feel safe traveling to CCCC? 

-We noted an emphasis on safety and security in the list of priorities, as well as a reference to engagement with police and authorities. Given that the NAACP Travel Advisory cites racist law enforcement practices in Missouri as one of the reasons for the advisory, how will CCCC work to promote safety, security, and engagement with police in a way that doesn’t potentially expose members of color to aggressive policing practices? Who do we mean by “authorities”?

-The Black, Latinx, American-Indian, and Asian/Asian-American caucus statement asks that CCCC develops “increased transparency regarding the decision-making process in the selection of conference locations.” We don’t see that addressed in the SJAC priorities. This may not be in the purview of the SJAC, as its focus is on the 2018 CCCC, but we believe this should be a core focus in moving forward. How can CCCC implement a transparent system for choosing locations that reflect our organization’s values, especially in terms of diversity, safety, and access?

-Related to the previous question, while we acknowledge the value of the inaugural Social Justice and Activism award and 2018 activist events, we are concerned that they act as retrofits—a temporary fix rather than a radical transformation of our organization. This is not the first time CCCC or NCTE in recent history has faced issues related to social justice and diversity. What long-term, structural changes are being proposed in these discussions?   

-There is much discussion about organizing with local activists at CCCC in the SJAC list. We appreciate the effort to bridge a connection between our national organization and local groups. We also want to point out that CCCC has many activists within its own branches, people who engage in racial, gender, immigration, and disability justice outside of their academic roles. Will there be any effort to draw from this rich source of wisdom in CCCC organizing?

Thank you for your leadership and for considering our questions in moving forward. 

Best,

CCCC Disability Studies Standing Group

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Storify of Disability Tweets from #4c17

This is my annual offering of the Storify collection of disability- and accessibility-related tweets from CCCC (#4c17) in Portland, which you can access through the following link: https://storify.com/ahhitt/disability-accessibility-at-4c17

You can also access an HTML version, which loads the content all at once: https://storify.com/ahhitt/disability-accessibility-at-4c17.html And I have attached a PDF. Storify used to provide an option to export interactive PDFs, but that’s no longer available for personal accounts, so the PDF should be readable, but the tweets are not linked. [NOTE: PDF available here for download. –DB]
These are only tweets from public accounts, but please let me know if you would like anything to be removed. Please also let me know if you have any comments, questions, or tweets that you’d like me to add or modify. I didn’t personally attend some of the sessions that I archived, so please correct me if I have misattributed information.
You can access previous years, as well:
I hope these continue to be useful to folks. Let me know if you have suggestions about ways to make this information more usable and accessible, and thank you all for your thoughtful, generative work!
Allison
Dr. Allison H. Hitt
Assistant Professor of Writing
University of Central Arkansas

New Issue of the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies (Vol. 6 No. 1)

Come and get some Canadian disability studies research!

I am excited to announce that a new issue of The Canadian Journal of Disability Studies is now live: http://cjds.uwaterloo.ca/index.php/cjds/issue/view/18

Please read, download, share, and respond.

Thanks as always to Reviews Editor Dr. Jen Rinaldi and Assistant Editor and Social Media Editor Sarah Gibbons. Thanks to accessibility partner Accessibil-IT (http://accessibilit.com) and to Geoffrey Salisi for their work creating the most accessible PDF and HTML files possible.

Here is the table of contents:

Articles

Framing Deaf Children’s Right to Sign Language in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Jennifer J. Paul, Kristin Snoddon

In the Nick of Time: A Pan-Canadian Examination of Extended Testing Time Accommodation in Post-secondary Schools
Laura Sokal, Alina Wilson

“The World is Wide Enough for Us Both”: The Manitoba School for the Deaf at the Onset of the Oralist Age, 1889-1920
Sandy Barron

Eyeing the Pedagogy of Trouble: The Cultural Documentation of the Problem-Subject
Devon Healey

Measuring Integration of Disabled Persons: Evidence from Canada’s Time Use Databases
Clarke Wilson, Mary Ann McColl, Fang Zhang, Paige McKinnon

Reviews

Review of DeShazer, Mammographies: The Cultural Discourses of Breast Cancer
Kristen A. Hardy

Review of Rioux, Pinto & Parekh, Rights Monitoring, and Social Change: Building Power out of Evidence
Grace M. Lockhart

Review of Dunn, Disabling Characters: Representations of Disability in Young Adult Literature
Danielle Lorenz

Review of Esmail, Reading Victorian Deafness: Signs and Sounds in Victorian Literature and Culture
Joanna Rankin

Thanks as always for your support.

Jay

Jay Dolmage, Ph.D
Editor, Canadian Journal of Disability Studies
Associate Chair, Undergraduate Studies
Associate Professor of English
University of Waterloo
Department of English
224 Hagey Hall of Humanities Building
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1
Tel: 519 888 4567 x31035
Fax: 519 746 5788
dolmage@uwaterloo.ca

Tracking Access Successes and Issues at C’s 2017 (Portland, OR)

Hi everyone,

As we all pack up/prepare materials to head to C’s, one more Google Doc/Word Doc as some collaborative wisdom gathering — thanks to Susan Naomi Bernstein and Dale Ireland for these ideas.

Attached to this post are MS Word documents that you can add to and send to me; we’ll also have a copy of this at the Access Table if people want to write things down there.

We intend this to be a place where people can document things that worked well access-wise and should be continued as well as things that were barriers, issues, challenges, or problems in Portland.

The goal is to document these things in a central location so that those who work on the Kansas City Accessibilty Guide, the NCTE staff, as well as the Local Arrangements people can have a record of things they should be aware of/avoid. I will be glad to update the google doc and, when making those updates, also send a Word doc to the list.

I’m also attaching the CDICC agenda as a MS word document.

Warmly,

Stephanie L. Kerschbaum, Ph.D.
(pronouns: she/her/hers)
Associate Professor, Department of English
Coordinator, UD Faculty Achievement Program
University of Delaware
320 Memorial Hall
Newark, DE 19716
http://sites.udel.edu/kersch

Files may be accessed by clicking  on the hyperlinks:

Applications of Disability in Teacher Prep

This latest post comes from Emily Wilson (emwilso@umich.edu), a Ph.D. student in the Joint Program in English and Education at the University of Michigan. Wilson explains how disability is approached in teacher preparation and includes a link to a unit for teaching the poetry and fiction of disability. Visit Wilson’s site for more information and resources: http://wilsonteacherstuff.wordpress.com/

I look forward to posting more, and as always, contact me at dev.k.bose@gmail.com if you’re interested in being a guest blogger for the site, or would like to joint the DS-Rhet listserv. —Dev

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When I was getting my undergraduate degree in education, I learned the term “mainstream.”  This term referred to the kids who were, supposedly, “normal,” and it came loaded with assumptions regarding race, gender, cultural background, sexuality, and ability.  We had to take a class for children who were considered outside the mainstream, and the name of that class changed every year.  One year it was “students with special needs.”  Then “the exceptional child.” Then “differently abled students.”  We learned how to write lengthy IEPs, how to make accommodations, how to intervene to help those exceptional children.  Many things bothered me about that class, like the strange, tiptoe-ing euphemisms, the ‘us versus them’ dichotomy, the fact that disability was treated like an inconvenience that distracted teachers from the so-called “real work” of teaching.  It wasn’t until 13 years later, when I took Melanie Yergeau’s class, that I realized the problem: my disability studies class was not, in fact, a disability studies class at all.  It was what Simi Linton calls an “applied approach” that focused on disability as a problem to be solved and never turned the lens back on society to ask what we were presuming about bodies and minds that would make accommodation necessary in the first place.  My undergraduate experience is not unique.  Most teachers, if they are taught anything about disability, are taught in purely interventionist terms.  The social, political, and rhetorical implications of disability are never explicitly explored, and ableism is never mentioned.  School can be difficult–even nightmarish–for disabled students. I argue that inadequate teacher preparation is partly to blame.

Some educational scholars are turning a critical eye toward the concept of “normal.”  Kerry Anne Enright argues that there is a need “for a reframing of the notion of mainstream in order to better represent the linguistic and cultural diversity of today’s classrooms.”  It is critical that we broaden the space for engagement with difference in the secondary classroom.  Students need to become aware, in their formative years, of our culture’s discriminatory practices toward disability, and disabled teenagers need to see themselves represented in the curriculum.  It is also important, in framing this discussion of disability, to heed Stephanie Kerschbaum’s warning against turning the study of disability into some kind of “bazaar” where we gawk unreflectively at other people’s difference. Instead, teachers need to facilitate understanding of disability in a way that helps them work with students to create a more equitable society.

Working toward that end, I’ve created a unit plan, consisting of 12 full-length, Common Core-aligned lesson plans to teach the poetry and fiction of disability in the secondary English classroom (wilsonteacherstuff.wordpress.com).  The unit focuses on the novel Me, Who Dove Into the Heart of the World, by Sabina Berman, as well as a large collection of poems and essays from the marvelous anthology, Beauty is a Verb.  I’ve attempted to move toward something like a universal design in my pedagogical approach, working to make the lesson plans multimodal and widely accessible (I would appreciate feedback on how well I have or have not accomplished that).

I want to give you an example of my approach.

In the first lesson, my objectives are for students to:

  1. Understand how different bodies perceive and express themselves in different ways.
  2. Collaborate to establish ground rules for safe discussion, including learning some of the language for talking about disability.
  3. Respond to poetry, citing evidence from the poem that supports conclusions drawn from details.
  4. Analyze a poem and portraits for both denotative and connotative meanings. Analyze the impact of the author’s/artist’s textual or artistic choices in creating an overall effect.

The lesson starts with the teacher and students analyzing a variety of self-portraits, looking for details the authors are saying about themselves through their portraiture.  We examine well-known portraits, like Van Gogh’s, and I also introduce them to Laura Swanson’s brilliant anti-self portraits.  Students then have opportunities to create their own self-portraits through a variety of different media–using art supplies, technology, or even making digital recordings of descriptions of themselves. Here are some questions from our follow-up discussion after this activity:

  • Consider what some of the differences might be between how we choose to express ourselves to the world and how other people choose to see us.
  • Why is language important in talking about our own identities and the identities of other people?
  •  What problems or issues might we face when we’re talking about people who are different from us?
  • How might this process of presenting our selves to the world be complicated or enriched by the presence of a physical or mental disability?

As you can probably tell, there’s a hidden agenda here.  Teachers love free lesson plans and activities.  But throughout my lesson plans and in my bibliography and unit overview, I’ve embedded commentary and materials to help teachers think about systemic, discriminatory features of a society that has structured itself (both physically and rhetorically) to exclude or marginalize the disabled.  My hope is that this unit plan can serve as one step toward reframing mainstream and empowering teachers and students to promote justice and equity in the classroom and beyond.

Essay: Rhetoric of Submission Guidelines

Emily Michael has published an essay that may be of interest to Disability Rhetoric readers. It’s called “Stylish Negotiations,” and it’s now live in the March issue of Wordgathering. Here’s the link: http://wordgathering.com/issue37/essays/michael.html. The piece may appeal readers because it analyzes the ableist guidelines of journals that ask for stories of disability. Often these journals claim to want “authentic” perspectives from disabled writers, but they stipulate the stance and language of submissions.

I look forward to posting more, and as always, contact me at dev.k.bose@gmail.com if you’re interested in being a guest blogger for the site, or would like to joint the DS-Rhet listserv. —Dev

Online Learning and Students with Disabilities

This latest post comes from Mary Frances Rice (mary.rice@ku.edu), a Ph.D. student at the University of Kansas. Rice explains the intersection of online environments and disability.

I look forward to posting more, and as always, contact me at dev.k.bose@gmail.com if you’re interested in being a guest blogger for the site, or would like to joint the DS-Rhet listserv. —Dev

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I am a curriculum and teaching Ph.D. student. Since January 2013, I have been working at the Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities at the University of Kansas. At this center, we focus on providing resources for K12 students with disabilities who are enrolling in online courses or participating in other types of digitally enhanced learning environments. During my time at COLSD, my research has taken several interesting turns. I started out researching text complexity and what makes a text difficult to read. In this work, the notion of what constituted disability was very narrow because all the formulas that one must use to calculate readability are based on fairly narrow views of reading comprehension that were invented long before the Internet and the flourishing of understanding about visual, gestural, and other social semiotic communication. I was glad to do this work because it enriched my understanding about how and why literacy needed to become literacies and why technologies had the potential to be a disruptive force in equity, but without deliberation, they could also be used to reproduce the status quo.

My next set of projects moved away from the curriculum products and towards the individuals engaging in teaching and learning online. Specifically I was charged with interviewing and collecting other data from online teachers who were working to provide accommodations and other support for students with disabilities as they learn. The work of these teachers was interesting to me because of their incredible knowledge of disability law and the deep level of care they had for the learners. What was unfortunate is that, for as much as they were investing, learners in their classes with disabilities failed to complete the courses at much higher rates. I also learned much about how these learners were constructed in virtual schools because there is so much less sensory data. You can hear or see the learners, but only through an Internet or phone connection and you only see what they want you to see. The totality of their body is never in the presence of the teacher. In some ways, this could be liberating; that a learner with a physical exceptionality need not share it with anyone and therefore, a certain kind of power emerges. However, it could also be just as colonizing; the virtual environment could allow the educational setting to deny disability entirely. All you are is what you turn in, and as long as you make progress in the course, interaction with a teacher in a fully online course is likely to be minimal in the settings where I conducted my research.

Another thing that struck me as I was engaging in this work was the “Senior Season,” where high school seniors rush to acquire the credit that they will need to pass courses and graduate. I presumed that it was likely that many of these learners are interested in pursuing university studies or other post-high school training. Like their English teachers, I wondered what lessons the learners were really learning about composition and writing that they would carry with them to college. After all, the curriculum the teachers were teaching was written by an elusive someone, somewhere who did not know the learners at all; the teachers, especially in the case of learners who disclosed their disabilities (another surprise, was even at this K12 setting, not all did) made special efforts to communicate with learners more about their writing and to make sure that learners understood what the assignment was really asking. Then came endless moral and ethical dilemmas about whether and under what circumstances to accept late work, how many revisions should a learner do, and what constituted quality writing when so much of what was assigned was canned, rather than planned. After talking with teachers, I focused next on administrators. These educators were also deeply caring and knowledgeable, particularly about policy aspects relating to disability, yet what it takes to help learners with disabilities move their learning to scholarship in the academy did not enter into our conversations. Online learning, as forward thinking as it is, has so many new dimensions that it is difficult to imagine individual futures of individual learners.

In attending the Council of Writing Program Administrators annual meeting in Boise, Idaho in July, I presented these wonderings about the body, about writing instruction expectations and how they matched up in secondary (especially virtual settings) and university expectations, and about disability and its co-construction on the whole. After secondary schooling is complete, the laws from IDEA (individuals with disabilities in education act) no longer serve learners; other public laws do. However, self-advocacy is required to receive accommodations. Are learners being prepared to talk about what might help them learn without submitting to stories that deny them their embodied personhood? After all, even a body learning online needs things to learn, and whether one is socially deemed –abled or –disabled and whether an exceptionality is physical or not, the physical must be attended to. Online learners need to be able to access a device that will enable them to access information and provide responses. They need to have means to communicate with instructors and classmates that are suitable. They need to have chances to have their personhood acknowledged and their body accepted—whether anyone sees it or not.

Disabling Writing Program Administration

This latest post comes from Crystal Benedicks (benedicc@wabash.edu), an assistant professor of English at Wabash College. It starts with Amy Vidali’s recent article in WPA, as a response to her call that we “disable” writing program administration.

I look forward to posting more, and as always, contact me at dev.k.bose@gmail.com if you’re interested in being a guest blogger for the site, or would like to joint the DS-Rhet listserv. —Dev

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“ . . . I suggest that we disable writing program work, which means knowingly and innovatively thinking through and with disability, particularly in the stories we tell about ourselves.”

—Amy Vidali, “Disabling Writing Program Administration” in Writing Program Administration, Spring 2015

In a season marked by prominent publications in disability theory and rhetoric, Amy Vidali’s call for WPAs to “disable” their stories is particularly cogent. She argues that many traditional and abelist narratives of WPA work include “depression and anxiety” as “primarily metaphors for the job, rather than something real.” Job-related anxiety routinely figures as a “badge of honor for being dedicated to your work,” an accolade that “heroic” and otherwise presumably able WPAs garner as they fight the good fight against the potentially draining and disabling forces of university administration. Vidali points out that this typical narrative restricts disability (in this case depression and anxiety) to a nauseous side-effect of WPA work and forecloses the possibilities of a more “productive” inclusion of disability in the very fabric of this work and the identities of those who do it.

Vidali’s essay crystalizes for me the disability themes in my own history of becoming a WPA. In the spirit of her call to disable writing program work, I offer the following vignette:

I’m a WPA and writing teacher at a small liberal arts college. But several decades before that, I was a child in the backseat of my parents’ minivan as we pulled into a local strip-mall. I forget the purpose of this family trip, but it was something about which we were all excited. “We are pregnant,” My father announced playfully, “with anticipation.” My mother turned some essentialist feminist scorn his way: “You can’t be pregnant with anticipation. You can only be pregnant with a baby.”

As the paraplegic mother of three children she was told she would never have, my mother took physical metaphors very seriously (and she mostly didn’t take them at all). I don’t think she had the luxury of thinking of the body as a metaphor: As a child with polio, my mother was a March of Dimes poster girl and, later, a clothing model, noted for the double-bind of her obvious beauty and her obvious disfigurement. I know she didn’t have the schooling to do fancy things with words: like many physically disabled children of her time, she was placed into “schools” for mentally and intellectually disabled children—and not much was taught in those institutions. Her spelling and pronunciation are still not standard. Meanwhile, as a first-generation college graduate and then-doctoral candidate, my father prided himself on his newly-found powers of metaphor and word play. As a child and incipient academic, I was impressed with my father and vaguely annoyed by my mother.

When I think back on how I got to be a WPA, someone who pays attention to questions of access and communication, this story looms large for me, although I’m not sure I fully understand all the implications. The landspace of my sympathy has shifted: I hear my mother now in a way I didn’t then. I’ve grappled with and continue to come to terms with my own infertility, unexpectedly replaying my mother’s anxieties about the maternal body. I’ve been humiliated and surprised. I’ve seen the toll that the medicalization and pathologizing of the body takes on a career and on a relationship, and the ways in which the foregrounding of the suddenly “deficient” physical self smashes neat academic perceptions of mind and body, work and life.

Like the depression and anxiety Vidali discusses, infertility is often an invisible disability. Another invisible vector of disability is the ways in which one is shaped by having a disabled family member. Unless I disclose that the fact that I grew up with a disabled mother, no one will know. Similarly, unless I disclose my infertility and the co-attendant anxiety and depression, I pass as a perfectly “normal” “woman,” especially because I now have children and create a regular, low-grade maternal spectacle in my very small town, lugging a crammed double-stroller through the farmer’s market. In fact, these vectors and echoes of disability are so invisible that I almost didn’t notice them myself: it was only several years after finishing a dissertation on Victorian poetry and nineteenth-century medical discourse that I realized I’d written a piece on disability. And it wasn’t until I found myself teaching in a composition program designed to provide access to higher education for precisely the students who least often graduate (economically underprivileged male minorities) that I realized I was trying to also intervene in my familial past, to hold open the doors, to grapple head-on with the awful sense of shame that can haunt those who feel themselves to be outsiders to higher education.

It strikes me that the dangerous thing about not recognizing this trajectory is that it would allow me to naïvely cast myself as an heroic teacher/savior, swooping in to rescue the disadvantaged students. Not acknowledging, even to myself, the role that disability plays in my life enables me to inoculate myself from it and locate it in my students, which only perpetuates the systems of shame and barred access that I hope to ameliorate.

The fact that it takes hard work for me to notice how disability has shaped my life and career is both testament to the ways in which disability is disavowed from productive narratives of self and suggestive of the fact that there is more uncovering to do, both for individuals trying to tell useful stories about themselves and for the field of composition and rhetoric in general. Compositionists often talk about “access” without noticing the ways that term is central to disability theory: it is after all a metaphor for the movement of bodies through space.

The Medical Model Controversy in Disability Studies

This recent blog post comes from N. Renuka Uthappa (renuka.uthappa@wayne.edu), a Ph.D. student at Wayne State University in Detroit. Uthappa is a scholar whose personal experience “puts her firmly within the medical model of mental illness at the same time as that model faces what seems like a fair amount of resistance within the disability community that deals with mental illness. (Catherine Prendergast notes in an essay that she feels awkward explaining that she considers schizophrenia a disease in the face of her own ‘post-structuralist leanings.’ She worries that her opinion “makes me sound at best conservative and at worst, theoretically unsound.”)”

I look forward to posting more, and as always, contact me at dev.k.bose@gmail.com if you’re interested in being a guest blogger for the site, or would like to joint the DS-Rhet listserv. —Dev

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“Like you, I wear many hats in my life. I am a Ph.D. student, a teacher, a wife, a sister, etc. But I’m here today talking to you because I am a person with a mental illness, specifically bipolar mood disorder.” This is the way I have been starting the presentations I give to high school psychology classrooms as part of my membership in a local group known as the Speakers Bureau. Made up of people with a variety of mental illnesses, the Bureau seeks to “put a face on mental illness, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse to overcome stigma and discrimination by sharing successful stories of hope and recovery.” I joined the group in order to research their rhetorical efforts from the inside and to contribute to their fight against stigma.

In the course of my initial research into disability, disability and rhetoric, and the particular rhetorics of mental illness, I find myself in a tricky position. I am steeped in the medical model of mental illness, a model not much in favor outside the mainstream. My decades long acceptance of the psychiatric assessment of a chemical imbalance in my brain and a genetic predisposition to mental illness, as well as my use of medication to successfully treat what I view as a biological illness place me in opposition to at least certain aspects of the consumer/survivor/ex-patient (c/s/x/) model of mental illness.

In her chapter of James Wilson and Cynthia Lewiecki-Wilson’s collection, Embodied Rhetorics: Disability in Language and Culture, Catherine Prendergast states: “For an academic such as myself with generally poststructuralist leanings, to think of schizophrenia as a “disease” makes me sound at best conservative and at worst theoretically unsound.” I can understand her concern. As a fledgling disability and rhetoric scholar, how can I acknowledge and stay open to the well-argued viewpoints of the c/s/x or Mad Pride movement while still living within my conviction that I have a disease that requires specifically medical intervention? How can I say a simple “No!” to their contention that states of what they call “mental distress” represent ways of being on the spectrum of human existence or even natural responses to external factors such as modern isolation or materialism?

At a Speakers Bureau workshop about how to craft one’s story of mental illness, the leader cautioned the group, “Don’t promote broken brain theory.” When I asked her about this statement later, she brought up the idea that certain “states of being” can be considered life experiences rather than “symptoms” and noted that there are varying opinions as to what mental illness is. Is it a medical illness, she asked, or a part of living? Her commentary raised my hackles. I found myself wanting to argue against the idea that mental illness could be considered just another way of being. This idea rang false against my experience of both mania and especially depression, where I found the depth of sadness and hopelessness absolutely incommensurate with anything going on in the outside world. Given that the ultimate endpoint of untreated depression for many is suicide, I found this new (to me), alternative perspective frustrating.

Later on, I told the workshop leader that my experience of deep depression had been incommensurate with anything going on in my life and asked “Doesn’t that suggest that the cause must be biological?” She replied “The purists would say you had not looked hard enough for a source for your sadness.” Slap! We let the matter rest there, but inside I was seething, not at the group leader, who I respected and liked, but at the “purists” who would dare lay their interpretation over my crystal clear experience. (It has not escaped my attention that I am doing the same thing to their experiences!)

Those experiences, I know, have included the reality that people with mental illness diagnoses can in many states be involuntarily hospitalized and legally forced to take medication. I can only imagine the terrifying experience of being forced into a hospital against my will or the frustration of having to take medications in a similar fashion. On the other hand, as someone who worked at one time providing supportive services for mentally ill adults living independently in the community, I have seen instances of very negative personal results when people suddenly stop taking their medications. And I have seen the positive results that hospitalization can sometimes provide once it helps a severely ill person stabilize.

I am hoping the existence of multiple views about the ontology of mental illness does not require me to decide on an absolute definition. In some ways, at present, it seems to come down to a sense of how experiences influence one’s sense of identity. Because I have had mostly good experiences within the medical model, and because it makes sense to me, I use the term “mental illness” and identify as a “person with a mental illness.” This phrase attempts to put distance between my “self,” or my essence, and my medical condition. The more I read, however, (Susan Gabel, thank you for “Depressed and disabled: some discursive problems with mental illness.”), the more I find myself open to questioning my current sense of identity. Thanks for the great scholarship, everyone, and I look forward to any and all responses to this, my first ever blog!

DS gains recognition by the Association for Business Communication

Fellow Disab Rhet people –

Wanted to let you know that the article I wrote with Lisa Meloncon based on
the disability data from the 2010-2013 Faculty Surveys of the CCCC Committee
on Online Writing Instruction was awarded the 2015 Distinguished Publication
Award from the Association for Business Communication. The article is
broadly targeted at Composition Studies community.

We will be in Seattle at the annual conference of ABC to accept the award
and give a presentation on it. While the article gives a shout out to you
all, it’s important for me to say thank you once again because it’s the
collegiality and the smart crip conversations we always have that inspire
this sort of scholarship. Many thanks to each of you.

Sage, which publishes the Journal of Business and Technical Communication
has made the article open access.  Simply go here: http://jbt.sagepub.com/
the red box will link you to the download for, “Paying Attention to
Accessibility When Designing Online Courses in Technical and Professional
Communication”

Hope you all are wrapping up lovely and restorative summers,

Sushil Oswal