Access Imagined: The Construction of Disability in Conference Policy Documents


  • Margaret Price



Conferences are a crucial area of professional development for persons with disabilities, but they are also among the most least accessible spaces that disabled persons may encounter. I argue that we need further research into these highly charged spaces, and I contribute to this agenda by analyzing 17 accessibility policy documents produced by 8 different professional organizations. Using critical discourse analysis, I examine the choices these documents have made, both verbal and visual, as well as possible outcomes of these choices for various audiences. In closing, I offer a list of generative questions that the authors of such documents should consider. It is impossible for a policy document to “imagine” access perfectly ahead of time; rather, we should understand and treat policy documents as part of a continually evolving dialogue.