[We’re pleased to welcome Guest Editor Dr. Sushil K. Oswal of the University of Washington Tacoma. Dr. Oswal recently published a guest editorial in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly entitled “Can Workplaces, Classrooms, and Pedagogies Be Disabling?” which is currently free to read for a limited time. The editorial was written as an introduction for the Special Issue: Enabling Workplaces, Classrooms, and Pedagogies: Bringing Disability Theory and Accessibility to Business and Professional Communication. Below, Dr. Oswal reflects on the significance of the articles featured in this issue in the context of today’s political environment:]
Disability has been of late in the news for so many reasons: during the last presidential election, a presidential candidate publicly made fun of a disabled journalist without any serious repercussions; earlier this year the U.S. Department of Education took down advisories on providing access to education in schools and colleges to students with disabilities without any serious opposition from educators or public; and presently some members of Congress are trying to turn the clock back to the times when United States did not treat its own children as citizens because they were missing a limb or a sensory organ. What has been missing from the media coverage of these recent events is whether or not the U.S. body politic any more considers disabled people human enough to have any rights or voice at all. The humanity that was returned to this nation’s disabled citizens after a long wait of two centuries at the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act by President, George Bush on July 25, 1990 seems to be in peril because the U.S. Congress appears no longer concerned about the civil liberties of all the citizens of this land. Even when major corporations like Walgreens, Microsoft, IBM, Google, and Apple have realized the value of being inclusive of disabled users, consumers, and sometimes, workers, some of our democratically elected representatives are writing legislations that would raise new barriers for more than one fifth of the country’s population and deny them the right to enjoy a meal at a restaurant, or a game at the neighborhood bowling alley.
This author believes that not only do we in academia have a civic obligation to speak in support of our 56 million disabled fellow citizens in public debates about disability rights but also have a professional and academic responsibility to pull down barriers that keep these citizens from full participation in our universities, the products of our professional work, and our information and communications. The March 2018 special issue of Business and Professional Communication Quarterly takes a step in this direction and presents a host of professional and scholarly solutions for making our business information and communication accessible for users with disabilities. Not only does it share some well-tried approaches for teaching disability and accessibility in our classes but also includes a set of strategies for disabling our whole curriculum so that the business field begins to include students with disabilities as the rightful members of academia.
It is a hefty issue with seven full-length articles and a longish introduction by the guest editor. Above is a link to the table-of-contents as a sampling of the topics and authors covered. Readers will see how the authors here engage disability studies theory and design principles in interesting ways with the work of scholars like Sara Ahmed and J. K. Rowling. Before the print copies of this BPCQ special issue run out, you would like to grab a copy for your book shelf. The special issue can also be an excellent textbook for a graduate course in business, professional, and technical communication because the wonderfully diverse advice on integrating access offered in this volume is even more pertinent for our future teachers, scholars, and practitioners as people with disabilities join our programs (and ranks), and as the aging population of this world demands roughly the same sort of access to information and communication services that disabled users have desired all along.
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