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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2007

E 388M • Accessibility: The Web, Multimedia, the Virtual Body

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
36215 MW
3:30 PM-5:00 PM

Course Description

The rhetorician Richard Lanham wrote (1993) that technology would recover the sensorium for rhetoric, reversing the enforced poverty of black-and-white that has characterized written and printed discourse for so long. And so it has: text has been joined by image, video, animation, and sound as routine elements of composition on the World Wide Web, which exploded into public consciousness just a few months after Lanham's Electronic Word was published.

For many authors and readers, the proliferation of multimedia is a wonderful thing, offering new tools and new media for communication and expression. For some, however, multimedia creates huge obstacles to understanding. The Deaf and hard-of-hearing lose critical material that is available only in auditory form. Readers who are blind or visually impaired miss vital visual cues; persons with limited use of their hands have difficulty manipulating online tools. People with cognitive impairments find it difficult to learn how sites are organized.

It turns out, then, that most of us make assumptions about the bodies of the people we imagine as our readers. The purpose of this course is to examine such assumptions, to understand how they are coded in our practice as authors and readers-and into the design of the software and hardware we increasingly use as media for writing and reading. We will also examine how those assumptions shape the development of technology standards, especially the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (forthcoming in 2005).


(Note: this list is subject to change in order to take advantage of late-breaking "news.")

  • Slatin, John and Sharron Rush, Maximum Accessibility. Addison-Wesley, 2002.
  • Chisholm, Wendy; et al.(eds.), Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0
  • Vanderheiden, Greg, et al. (eds). Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0
  • U.S. Access Board, Internet and Intranet Accessibility Standards
  • Brueggeman, et al., eds. Enabling Humanities (MLA)
  • Other scholarly and technical materials as appropriate


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