Posted in Discussion Questions

Disabilities and Communication

In Lisa Melancon’s “Rhetorical Accessability”, it is discussed how we as technical writers can better communicate with or write for the disabled community. She first attempts to describe “disabled”, although this is nearly impossible to do since it is such a multifaceted term and has many different forms. In our role as technical writers, we need to be aware of how accessible our writing is for people with disabilities of all kinds. One quote I particularly liked from the introduction was, “Rhetoric can be an instrumental tool to position and craft effective communication strategies…”(p.4). I think this is not only true in writing, but also in verbal communication.

One example that came to mind for me was a lecture I received in a practice management course I took for my first degree. The lecture was given by a local high school teacher who was blind and used a service dog to help her get around. She was speaking with us about how to communicate with disabled clients when they were bringing their service animal into the veterinary clinic. She was very specific about the rhetoric of the conversation with the client. It is appropriate for the technician to greet the client first, by name, and usually put a hand on their shoulder to let the person know where they were. They also need to ask the client before touching the animal since it is primarily a service animal.

Because of this experience, I decided to skim the second chapter about people who have trouble reading. This is not limited to people who have sight problems though. It also applies to people who are illiterate, read English as a second language, or have cognitive issues. The other thing I found interesting was that they applied this to people who have no disabilities, but may not be able to read as well due to stress, fatigue, or lack of time to name a few. There are many different types of experimentation which they go into further in the chapter, which include qualitative and quantitative studies.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What was something new to you that changes your perspective on how you write or who your audience is?
  2. How do you define the wordplay on accessibility versus access ability?
  3. How does our previous discussion of ethics build into this excerpt?



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