A Version of Access

Digitally Glitched Image of a Building's Floorplan.Co-written with Nathaniel Rivers, this project explores accessibility ontologically and proposes nonequal design as a way to include and encourage difference. After a brief introduction, Part One situates the possibility for a multiple versioned approach to (and of) accessibility. Reviewing rhetorical scholarship on disability and accessibility, we intensify rhetorical accessibility as a generative, sideways approach to accessibility and online scholarship. Part Two finds affinities for this sideways approach in STS where several figures have explored the ontological politics of multiple versions of reality. Part Three introduces three design principles–medium specificity, syncopation, and versioning–for enacting how an nonequal approach opens up generative possibilities for accessible online scholarship. The article concludes with a brief note about the potential that nonequal design might have for further developing accessibility.


“…accessibility concerns coordinating, what we term, the nonequal. Nonequality would acknowledge that difference does not differ from a substrate, but difference participates alongside all other difference. Nonequality, as we understand it, accepts difference without reinscribing normativity” (32).

“What this passage assumes is that any particular body’s abilities need not establish itself as a standard for any other body’s abilities. Just as the speed of sound is not held up to a standard set by the speed of light, we need not hold up anybody to standards that are not within its capacities. By focusing on what a body can do instead of trying to correct what a body cannot do reorients the situation of accessibility and texts that might be understood as accessible. So-called disabled bodies, in this nonequal schema, cease to be bodies different from some ideal and instead all bodies become difference as such. Entelechies, biological or textual, adhere not to one end but to multiple ends” (36).

“We seek a practice of nonequal design not as a way to reduce our obligations for composing accessible texts; in fact, nonequal design multiplies those obligations” (44).



Available at Technical Communication Quarterly


Co-written with Nathaniel Rivers, this article has been accepted for publication at *Technical Communication Quarterly*.


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