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CCCC Position Statement

A Policy on Disability in CCCC - Previous Revision

Conference on College Composition and Communication, November 2006

[Submitted by the CCCC Committee on Disability Issues in College Composition and adopted by the CCCC Executive Committee on November 20, 2006.]

In accordance with the CCCC Mission Statement to promote the exchange of knowledge in our field, advocate “for language and literacy education,” “enhance the conditions for learning and teaching,” support “a wide range of research,” and promote professional development, this document describes both concepts and processes of a fully inclusive policy on disability in composition and rhetoric.

  • CCCC recognizes that students, staff, and faculty on college campuses include people with a wide range of visible and invisible disabilities—cognitive, learning, emotional, psychological, and physical.
  • CCCC affirms that people with disabilities bring a valuable source of diversity to college composition classrooms, university communities, and to our professional organization.
  • CCCC understands that the participation of educators, staff, and students with disabilities requires fully inclusive environments.
  • CCCC acknowledges the important contributions disability studies makes to composition and rhetoric, to the promotion of access, to literacy studies, and to theories of difference, especially in its critique of “norms” and “normalcy.” The questions posed by disability studies ask us to rethink language, the body, the environment, identity, culture, power, and the nature of knowledge itself, enabling a meaningful engagement at multiple levels: bodily, personal, social, cultural, and political.
  • Recognizing that people with disabilities have been oppressed and continue to be relegated to the margins, we affirm the centrality of disability to the human experience and the value of disability as a critical lens.

“To enhance the conditions for learning and teaching”––Disability, Access, Inclusion, and Technology

 We acknowledge the right of full inclusion for all members of society. Full inclusion for people with disabilities means moving beyond narrow conceptions of disability as a flaw, deficit, or a trait to be accommodated. At best, governmental legislation outlines minimum standards of accommodation for people with disabilities; full inclusion, however, requires going beyond the minimum standards.

Educators should ensure that alternatives for those with disabilities are built into physical and intellectual spaces, rather than "added on" in ways that segregate and stigmatize those with disabilities. Making writing classrooms and curricula inclusive and accessible to those with disabilities means employing flexible and diverse approaches to the teaching of reading and writing to ensure pedagogical as well as physical access; using multiple teaching and learning formats; welcoming students with disabilities in course syllabi; and including disability issues or perspectives in course content and faculty development workshops. Just as it is imperative to bring the subject matter and authors of formerly excluded groups into the classroom and canon, disability as a subject of study needs to be part of the curriculum. Teacher training can address ways of creating inclusive classrooms and curricula that are sensitive to both students and teachers with disabilities.

People with disabilities have been instrumental in creating many of the technologies we now take for granted—from the typewriter to hand held communication devices to speech recognition software. CCCC encourages including people with disabilities fully as designers, users, and critics of technology. For instance, online environments are central to the work of students, teachers, scholars, and professionals. CCCC is committed to accessible online environments, including making the CCCC website accessible, as well as working to teach others about ways to make their program and course websites fully inclusive.

“To support a wide range of research”––Disability Studies in Composition, Rhetoric, and Literacy Studies Scholarship

We acknowledge that disability studies enhances learning and teaching in college composition. Learning about the history of the exclusion of people with disabilities enables a better understanding of issues of access and inclusion affecting all people, particularly excluded or marginalized groups.

Disability studies seeks to understand disability in the contexts of history, culture and society. Scholars study disability’s history of oppression, and extend insights gained from this history to other identity groups. For example, in revealing the underlying operations of exclusion that affect all––in the teaching of writing, the production of discourses, and research in composition and rhetoric—disability studies examines how disabled people have been and might be educated; how notions of normalcy script social interactions, power institutions, and condition identity formation; how disabled people are excluded or included by physical and ideological environments; the ways disability is and has been popularly imagined and represented; how language and rhetoric shape attitudes toward disabled people; and how other identities such as race, class, or gender studies intersect with disability.

Disability studies as it intersects with composition, rhetoric, and literacy studies has enlarged knowledge in our field. The critical lens of disability studies scholarship has produced new knowledge, for example, about variations of composing processes, alternative ways of working with students in the composition classroom or writing center, histories of oppression in education and literacy practices, theoretical explorations of queer and disabled subjectivity, and critiques of the exclusionary power of normate pedagogy.

“To promote professional development”—Supporting Teachers and Scholars with Disabilities

We acknowledge the right of teachers and scholars with disabilities to participate fully in the profession. This means supporting them in the recruitment, hiring, promotion, and tenure process. It also means actively working to provide graduate students, adjuncts, and part-time scholars with disabilities the support they need to fully participate. We encourage members of this organization to work with their home institutions to eliminate discrimination and support the rights of persons with disabilities.

CCCC will work to make its conferences fully accessible, and will disseminate model guidelines for inclusive practices to related organizations and conferences. This means making CFP processes, conference locations, conference presentations, and conference schedules fully accessible to those with disabilities. For example, we will provide alternate formats in the CFP process, make sure hotels are accessible, provide CART services and/or interpreters for members, and schedule the conference so there is ample time and space for all to fully participate.

Conclusion

This document describes both concepts and processes that will move the organization beyond mere compliance towards a fully inclusive policy on disability. Its adoption will demonstrate CCCC's commitment to equal access and full inclusion of people with disabilities in writing classrooms, programs, and scholarship. Committing to full access and inclusion guarantees the rights of those with disabilities in our profession and classrooms and has the potential to energize practical and intellectual discussions regarding the spaces and places of CCCC. The Committee on Disability Issues in College Composition looks forward to sustained dialogue on these issues.

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