Homework for Wednesday

Hi everyone! Next class we’re going to talk about accessibility online, so before then all of you are going to evaluate how accessible one website or piece of online content is. So before next class:

  1. Read through this set of posters for best practices with regards to designing for accessibility. (You don’t need to make note of all of them, just skim them and pick out a few you may not have been aware of, or noticed a lot.) https://accessibility.blog.gov.uk/2016/09/02/dos-and-donts-on-designing-for-accessibility
  2. Find a website or content posted online, and evaluate how accessible it is according to the guidelines. Did you find anything that could be done better? If you didn’t, which features made it accessible?
  3. Post a short comment below describing what you found. Include a link if you feel comfortable doing so. The comment doesn’t need to be super long, just enough to report back on what you found out.

For some ideas for things to evaluate, look at the websites you go to every day. College or ASC sites, blackboard, social media, this class website, your favorite YouTube channel. You can also evaluate your own content, like your posts on social media or on this website. If you have the time and are willing to look up a tutorial or two, consider turning on accessibility features on your device, like VoiceOver on iPhone, and navigating apps using them. It might give you a different perspective.

Happy fall break!

Archiving Indigenous Stories Using Indigenous Research Methods

The project I focused on was The People And The Text, an archive of Indigenous literature until 1992. The project is based out of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, and with the support of the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the latter falling under the Canadian government. It aims not only to archive the writing of Indigenous Northern North American people (including Native American and First Nations communities) but to work in collaboration with Indigenous communities to put together a manual on Indigenous research methods. The project wants to avoid archiving Indigenous literature with the same colonial framework and methodology for how it gets done and whose work gets archived. The work is an attempt to counter the erasure of Indigenous literature from academia. According to the project’s about page “settlers used literature to consolidate a narrative of Canada starring the British-descended resulting in university curricula that featured the British canon.” Thus, the works of Indigenous writers were often neglected. The aim is that by creating this as a digital archive, universities as well as individuals would have more Indigenous literature accessible to them, and therefore make use of it and highlight the neglected narratives of Indigenous writers.


Are My Eyes Biased?

In Donna Haraway’s “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective”, Haraway tackles the question of feminist objectivity and what it would mean to establish facts and a reality without privileging those identities who tend to be assumed as the default.

Haraway explains objectivity not as seeing all or trying to see from no perspective, but as establishing truths and being held accountable for them. She argues the act of seeing is not passive objective perception until you make a judgment about it, rather an inherently active and inherently unique and individual process. In order to truly be objective, Haraway says, you can’t pretend like you can see everything in the world perfectly. Vision is a way of modulating knowledge we can’t escape. Instead, we should take responsibility for what we know and how we know it. Rather than privileging only the voices of oppressed people, for example, she argues that they are not perfect or innocent objective positions. They are less likely to claim their own knowledge is true despite their situation. For example, a marginalized person recounting their own experience will be speaking as their own person while acknowledging how their identities have shaped their view of their experience. As Haraway writes “they are preferred because in principle they are least likely to allow denial of the critical and interpretive core of all knowledge,” (584). This is in contrast to identities perceived as the default, where bias and experience don’t get questioned, the person loses the attachment between their self and how they process knowledge, leading to studies and science which is fundamentally flawed or biased.

The problem is we’ve moved past questioning where our knowledge comes from and taking accountability for it. A camera or technology is not objective, rather it too has its own interpretation of the world: how it gathers its data, what its reach and limitations are. To interpret data from a machine is to do the same work as seeing, or seeing from another perspective. However, human vision also isn’t this perfect objective thing. It’s tied to the ideal of knowing and seeing everything, seen as a passive way to acquire knowledge, yet the way we learn is rooted in our identities and experiences. Haraway writes, “We need to learn in our bodies, endowed with primate color and stereoscopic vision, how to attach the objective to our theoretical and political scanners in order to name where we are and are not, in dimensions of mental and physical space we hardly know how to name,” (582). We need an objective foundation, something we can agree on, within our perceptions and our bodies and our histories. 

Knowledge becomes, or always was, inherently personal when viewed through this lens. To depersonalize it, to play into the fantasy of knowing without being, then inherently privileges those who are seen as having the fewest “othering” ties to themselves. It’s very easy for a cisgender straight white man to see himself only as a ‘person’ when those identities are considered the default, while a trans lesbian of color, for example, would have to consider her experiences when putting out knowledge or ideas, because the latter’s ideas are seen as special and other while the former’s experiences are almost invisible. And then the person seen as most capable of being objective is the one least likely to be held accountable for their knowledge.

Haraway’s text, being mostly theoretical, doesn’t make much use of examples. As you were reading, what examples popped into your mind to relate this text back to your own life? Did that help or complicate your reading of the text?

How can knowledge be affected by identity and experience? How have the other readings for this class so far played with the ideas of bias and knowledge?

Haraway, D. (1988). Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective. Feminist Studies, 14(3), 575–599.

Hi, my name is Rose

Hello everyone, I’m Rose and I’m an Inclusive Childhood Education major. I’m the SGA representative for Pride club and last semester I worked as the student ambassador for Disability Resources. I’m also a huge fan of anything related to collaborative storytelling, so I run Dungeons & Dragons campaigns over the summer (and play in them during the semester so I don’t have to prepare as much), and I’m secretary of the SUNY Cortland RPG Club.

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