Creating Accessible Spaces for ESL Students Online
This is the publisher PDF of Sanchez, Fernando. "Creating Accessible Spaces for ESL Students Online.” WPA: Writing Program Administration 37.1 (Fall 2013): 161-185, published by the Council of Writing Program Administrators in the WPA Journal.
This essay responds to the 2012 CCCC featured session, “Access—A Happening,” in which Blackmon et al. focused on “removing barriers and confusing the discipline’s boundaries, with a focus on the bodies and minds that have been excluded.” As a presenter, Paul Kei Matsuda called on instructors and WPAs to create access for ESL students into such spaces. WPAs have long sought out opportunities to allow students to have more of a voice when it comes to policy; in this way, this study examines whether WPA documents—specifically information and support resources available on writing center websites—meet the needs of ESL students. I studied eight OWL websites in universities with large international student populations to gauge how well these sites took into account criteria pertinent to ESL students as evident in the available scholarship: intercultural needs, writing resource needs, plagiarism resource needs, and readability. The article ends with specific recommendations for WPAs to follow in creating documents—online or otherwise—that will incorporate ESL audiences. By following these recommendations, WPAs can be more attuned to the needs of more individuals and can better accommodate access to places which may ordinarily prohibit entrance to those without particular (or with divergent) physical and linguistic capabilities.