The Retrofit

The second chapter used "retrofit" (p. 67) as a metaphor for creating structures like ramps and curb cuts to "fix" spaces. Retrofits help to clarify the limitations of disabled students requesting accommodations for classes or activities, rather than the university accommodating students outright. Dolmage described accommodations in public housing, digital accommodations such as captioning, and the effects of such accommodations on emotional, physical, and financial statuses. Dolmage shared another student's story that he viewed his accommodation request process as "being like the game Battleship" (p. 90), implying that students had to battle administrators to receive the accommodations they needed. Furthermore, Dolmage pointed out that the retrofits also included a chronicity—"a timing and a time logic" (p. 71).

Kairos and Chronos

At this point, I would like to expand Dolmage's idea that the "timing and a time logic" (p. 71) that characterize retrofits could apply to student accommodations as well. By referring to Aristotle's rhetoric, I would like to suggest using the term kairos to describe finding the right "timing" to ask for accommodations, and chronos to describe figuring out the right "time logic" for completing an accommodation. I will use a personal experience to illustrate this application.

As a Deaf student, I was assigned to watch a YouTube link for my homework prior to my class, and I found that the link was not captioned. I contacted my professor immediately, but my professor responded, "the YouTube link was available for public use, and closed captioning was supposed to be added by the creator of the YouTube link. Sorry, I could do nothing." This was a perfect example of academic apologia because he explained that it was not his, but YouTube's, responsibility to add captions. At the same time, this was another perfect example of my professor's failure of kairos and chronos. My professor could have contacted the disability service to caption the video, but he missed his chronos (the right timeline to request accommodation). If my professor had addressed this issue in a reasonable timeframe, and he would have achieved his kairos (the right time to receive accommodation) to get a captioned video ready for his class.

Furthermore, this rhetorical approach also could apply to disabled students requesting their own accommodations for classes or activities, such as registering under disability services, meeting a disability specialist to discuss their accommodations, completing early registrations, and sending their professors letters of accommodation. As a Deaf student, I need to request accommodation time in advance (chronos) to secure an interpreter, as well as schedule a meeting with a professor to find the right time (kairos) to meet while giving sufficient time to find an interpreter.

solving a math problem writing by hand on a whiteboard
Solving a math problem (Photograph by Elizabeth Monge, 2017)