Restricted Access: Media, Disability, and the Politics of ParticipationMain MenuInterrogating and Integrating AccessIntroductionRegulating Digital Media Accessibility: #CaptionTHISChapter 1You Already Know How to Use It: Technology, Disability, and ParticipationChapter 2Transformers: Accessibility, Style, and AdaptationChapter 3Content Warnings: Struggles over Meaning, Rights, and EqualityChapter 4The Net Experience: Intersectional Identities and Cultural AccessibilityChapter 5Conclusion: Collaborative FuturesConclusionAdditional ResourcesDisability Blogs, Overview of Accessibility Practices, and Accessibility ResourcesElizabeth Ellcessor071854df67577061fe7d8846d7d22971fd2a5491NYU Press
MCI's Anthem (1997) - Freedom from the Marked Body
12015-10-08T14:56:50-07:00Elizabeth Ellcessor071854df67577061fe7d8846d7d22971fd2a549150921This commercial from MCI posits the Internet as a utopian public space in which inequalities like race, class, gender, age, and disability disappear.plain2015-10-08T14:56:50-07:00Critical Commons1997VideoAnthemMCI2012-09-13T22:02:24ZElizabeth Ellcessor071854df67577061fe7d8846d7d22971fd2a5491
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12015-10-08T15:15:34-07:00Internet Advertisements and Preferred User Positions1Chapter 2plain2015-10-08T15:15:34-07:00To explain preferred user positions - arrangements of bodies, technologies, and culture that are enforced by hardware and software and may exclude many people - it is particularly instructive to consider two advertisements, from nearly 20 years apart.
The first is one of several advertisements produced by AT&T as part of a series entitled "You Will" in 1993.
This advertisement is notable for the ways in which it promises a future in which technology enables greater achievements, convenience, and happiness. However, these rewards may be distributed unequally; the woman of color featured in the hospital scene is seen in a wheelchair (and appears to be going into labor in a maternity ward). She does not have her medical history in her pocket - rather, her male partner is seen handing it to a male doctor. Signifiers of race, gender, and ability in this ad suggest that there are some white, male, and able-bodied arrangements that will be more empowered by these technologies than will others.
The second advertisement, "It's You," was released by Yahoo! in 2009.
Here, any representation of technology itself is absent; instead, there is a montage of people and activities. While there are numerous signs of racial, geographical, age, and gender diversity, there is no sign of disability in this advertisement. This is different from ads in earlier eras, such as "You Will" and the well-known MCI "Anthem" advertisement.
"Anthem" incorporated disability as one of many forms of embodied difference that would be made irrelevant by technology. Feminist disability scholar Alison Kafer suggests that it is common to imagine utopian futures as devoid of disability, but that such imaginings reinforce ableist ideas about disability as deficiency and foster eliminationist rhetoric. Furthermore, though "Anthem" promises "no infirmities," accompanied by the image of a young person using sign language, it does nothing to suggest how technologies will be made accessible to - usable by - people who do not fit the empowered white, male, Western, able-bodied user hailed by this advertisement and by mainstream technologies themselves.
To return to "It's You," it should be noted that it is very much part of the larger discourse of "you" that permeated the Web 2.0 era, from roughly 2004 onward, as in this famous 2006 TIME magazine cover that declared "You" the Person of the Year. The use of "you" supports empowering ideas about increased participation and opportunities fostered by user-generated-content and social media. However, this chapter argues that people with disabilities are rarely included as part of the "you" - in fact, much media coverage seems to explicitly treat people with disabilities as different from mainstream users, more serious, less creative, and less able to access the benefits of a participatory culture.