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Identity and Representation in the 2017 Disability March

Talea Anderson

Structure of This Webtext

Structurally, this webtext will resemble any other academic article one might find. It begins with an introduction and progresses to a literature review, which considers linguistic and visual representations of disability and discusses the effect of web accessibility on participation in online spaces. From there the webtext proceeds to a methods section, which explains how profiles were gathered from the Disability March website and analyzed using both distant and close readings. A discussion section follows, and a conclusion. A conventional layout is used for the webtext, including a menu listing the sections of the paper and individual pages that contain paragraphs, images, image captions, and links to external web pages as well as references in a final section of the webtext.

All of this is precisely as one might expect, but one intention of this webtext is to call attention to the often invisible structural elements underlying the text that allow readers to engage with the material. Specific choices have been made so that this webtext would be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust (W3C, 2018). Alternate descriptions have been added to provide context for graphics that would otherwise be invisible to those using screen readers. Fixed screen width and height values were discarded to allow readers to zoom in and out as necessary for the device they may be using. Text and image colors were chosen to make these elements clear and visible to the largest number of readers. Consistent heading values, descriptive link text, and predictable navigation elements were used to accommodate navigation using screen readers. These are just a few of the many decisions that the author, editors, and journal made in an effort to support access.

Videos embedded at the bottom of each page in the webtext expose these accessibility decisions. These elements are highlighted, not to suggest that this webtext is perfectly accessible (because it isn't), but to call attention to invisible structures that provide cues to readers about whether they are invited into particular spaces online. The argument here is that any analysis of the rhetoric employed in protests like the Disability March needs to account for a great deal of subtext hidden in website design and layout. Each video acts as a kind of behind the scenes commentary, discussing at least one key decision made regarding accessibility.

Accessibility Highlight Video: Header Information (Transcript)