Published on September 15, 2021

Volume 64, Number 3, September 2021

Research Articles:

Addressing Workplace Accessibility Practices Through Technical Communication Research Methods: One Size Does Not Fit All, by S. Huntsman

Despite the lack of marked improvement in digital accessibility, many continue to pursue a policy approach to accessibility, including checklists and guidelines. This study investigates whether common ground between institutional values and accessibility can be discovered and leveraged to motivate value-driven accessibility. Common ground theory was used to code and analyze data from interviews of 18 university instructors to determine how they consider accessibility in developing their course documents. Data were coded and analyzed to discover common attitudes towards accessibility. The data revealed that although instructors approached accessibility differently, all were motivated to work for student success.

Case Studies:

Generative Fusions: Integrating Technical and Professional Communication, Disability Studies, and Legal Studies in the Work of Disability Inclusion and Access, by K. C. Bennett and M. A. Hannah

Building on scholarship and practices in technical and professional communication (TPC), disability studies (DS), and legal studies (LS), this article calls for a fusion of these fields to help technical and professional communicators (TPCers) negotiate legal understandings of access that recognize it as a complex, social phenomenon. To demonstrate such fusion’s value in interrogating corporate discourse around disability inclusion and access, we examine the public-facing documents in JP Morgan Chase & Company’s (JP Morgan) diversity and inclusion initiatives. We use thematic coding to analyze a sampling of JP Morgan’s documents to better understand their contributions to disability discourse. We identify tensions and offer guidelines for more equitable documentation practices.

Opening the Conversation: The Development of a Faculty-Facing Module on Teaching Students with Dyslexia, by C. Phelps

Dyslexic students frequently require alterations to both teaching approaches and document design; however, studies show that some faculty do not see or feel a need to offer any accommodations for this dis/ability. Research indicates that train-the-trainer approaches to accessibility training offer improved scalability and efficacy when it comes to engaging and acknowledging the needs of dis/abled communities. This article covers the module’s creation and implementation via the iterative ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation) method. It provides a framework for creating similar modules that industry practitioners and faculty can implement within their own organizations.

Teaching Case:

Finding a Teaching A11y: Designing an Accessibility Centered Pedagogy, by K. Sonka, C. McArdle, and L. Potts

This teaching case is focused on how we situated accessibility (a11y, a numeronym) at the core of our undergraduate degree. Based on our program values, industry experience, and market need, we aimed to build a program that focused on accessibility. Through our experimental work applied within the program’s framework, we built a foundational course, launched an intensive short program (study away), and developed opportunities for student knowledge sharing on the local, regional, and national levels. Placing accessibility at the center of the mission, scholars and practitioners alike can address these concerns and keep their commitment to creating user experiences centered on shared values of equity, sustainability, and usability.


An Editing Process for Blind or Visually Impaired Editors, by M. J. Baker, E. M. Nightingale, and S. Bills

Technologies that blind or visually impaired individuals can use for editing text present challenges. Such challenges include the lack of usability in word processors’ text-editing features, navigational and sense-making issues with screen readers, limited text displayed by refreshable braille displays, and extensive commands needed to operate braille notetakers. This study’s blind coauthor (who prefers this terminology) draws on her academic and professional experience to provide procedural information for blind or visually impaired practitioners and students who need to open email attachments, navigate files, select text, navigate the Review tab of Microsoft Word, add comments, and use Nav Quick Keys.

Using Web Standards to Design Accessible Data Visualizations in Professional Communication, by A. Strantz

Data visualization is a reliable tool for professional communication practitioners to synthesize and present data to a variety of audiences. However, data visualizations have a range of accessibility concerns. They should therefore be designed following web standards for complex images to ensure that they are accessible to audiences with diverse needs. Follow these best practices to create visually accessible data visualizations. 1. Design the visual for accessibility by using whitespace, creating contrast, maintaining size/scale, and labeling the visual clearly. 2. Implement the visual using web standards to create semantic connections between the visual and text for both users and accessibility technologies. 3. Test the visual for accessibility through user tests and industry-standard tools.