Books & Articles

In Case of Emergency: How Technologies Mediate Crisis and Normalize Inequality

Book Cover: In Case of Emergency

In Case of Emergency (New York University Press, 2022) argues that our media systems often help not only to warn or report emergencies, but to define and create the very meanings of “emergency” and “normalcy,” with serious consequences.

Restricted Access: Media, Disability, and the Politics of Participation

Restricted Access (New York University Press, 2016) investigates digital media accessibility—the processes by which media is made usable by people with particular needs—and argues for the necessity of conceptualizing access in a way that will enable greater participation in all forms of mediated culture.

Through interviews with policy makers and accessibility professionals, popular culture and archival materials, and an ethnographic study of internet use by people with disabilities, this book reveals the assumptions that undergird contemporary technologies and participatory cultures. Restricted Access makes the crucial point that if digital media open up opportunities for individuals to create and participate, but that technology only facilitates the participation of those who are already privileged, then its progressive potential remains unrealized.

Restricted Access relies upon evocative examples to demonstrate the importance of alternate uses, marginalized voices, and invisible innovations in the context of disability identities to push us to rethink digital media accessibility. Many of these examples are archived for review and teaching purposes.

“Ellcessor invites us to reflect upon digital media contexts from the
standpoint of disability and to reconsider the concept of accessibility through a multidisciplinary lens, engaging and linking both critical disability studies and media contemporary cultural studies to see how these fields might inform one another from a theoretical and methodological view.”

– Amalia Hoban, Disability & Society, 2018

“With a multidisciplinary lens, comprising media and cultural studies, disability studies, ethnography, and critical theory, Ellcessor formulates an “access kit” of five specific tools (regulation, use, form, content, and experience) to approach interactions across bodies, cultures, and technologies from diverse angles. Not only does this kit structure the book’s chapters, but it also provides future researchers with a remarkably useful methodology adaptable to their specific interests, case studies, and findings.”

– Ekin Pinar, Film Criticism, 2017

“Restricted Access lived up to the heady expectations promised by its name. Ellcessor’s depth of knowledge, the breadth of her research, and the painstaking detail with which she articulates her points makes this book a must read for academics, as well as technical communicators working in the health, software fields, or Web publishing fields.”

– Nicole St. Germaine-Ditts, Technical Communication, 2016

Interviews & Press

Disability Media Studies

Book cover: Disability Media Studies

Disability Media Studies (NYU Press, 2017), co-edited by Bill Kirkpatrick, proposes the formation of a field of study, based in the rich traditions of media, cultural, and disability studies. This book is intended to be accessible, teachable, and friendly to newcomers to the study of disability and media alike.

Case studies include familiar contemporary examples—such as Iron Man 3 (2013), Lady Gaga, and Oscar Pistorius—as well as historical media, independent disability media, reality television, and media technologies. Chapters consider disability representation, the role of media in forming cultural assumptions about ability, the construction of disability via media technologies, and how disabled audiences respond to particular media artifacts. Additionally, two afterwords—one by Rachel Adams, the other by Mara Mills and Jonathan Sterne—reflect upon the collection, the ongoing conversations, and the future of disability media studies.

“Disability Media Studies is strongly interdisciplinary, drawing on cultural disability studies, a range of media studies subfields and a host of other disciplines. As such, I think it can be judged a success in terms of its aim of initiating a fruitful conversation and characterising a distinctive new field.”

– Owen Barden, Disability & Society 2019

Selected Articles

Three Vignettes Towards Accessible Teaching.” Communication, Culture & Critique (2021).

The Care and Feeding of 911 Infrastructure.” Cultural Studies (2021). 35:4-5, 792-813. DOI: 10.1080/09502386.2021.1895249

Call if You Can, Text if You Can’t: A Dismediation of U.S. Emergency Communication Infrastructure.” International Journal of Communication. 13 (2019). OPEN ACCESS

Blue Light Emergency Phones on Campus: Media Infrastructures of Feeling,” International Journal of Cultural Studies. 22:4 (2019). 499–518. doi:10.1177/1367877918820336

“‘One Tweet to Make So Much Noise’: Connected Celebrity Activism in the Case of Marlee Matlin,” New Media & Society (2016). doi:10.1177/1461444816661551

Cyborg Hoaxes: Disability, Deception, and Critical Studies of Digital Media.“ New Media & Society (2016). doi:10.1177/1461444816642754

Blurred Lines: Accessibility, Disability, and Definitional Limitations.” First Monday. 20:9 (2015) OPEN ACCESS

“Captions On, Off, On Tv, Online: Accessibility and Search Engine Optimization in Online Closed Captioning.” Television and New Media. 13:4 (2012). 329-352.

“Tweeting @feliciaday: Online Social Media, Convergence and the Subcultural Stardom of Felicia Day.” Cinema Journal. 51:2 (2012). 46-66.

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