By the end of this section, you will be able to:
- Implement a variety of technologies while matching them to environments used to address rhetorical situations.
- Match the capacities of different modes and media to various rhetorical situations.
Within the genre of multimodal composition, there is a growing call for design advocacy, part of which means redefining and recontextualizing the rhetoric of design to make multimodal compositions more inclusive not only for those with differing abilities but also for those marginalized according to social, technological, and cultural equity.
To participate in the consumption or creation of most multimodal composition, students need access to high-speed internet, defined by the FCC as a download speed of 25 Mbps and an upload speed of 3 Mbps. When no such access exists, cultural, social, and educational disparities arise within the genre of multimodal literature. Students who have less access to the technology required to read, view, or create multimodal works are excluded from this relatively new form of literature, leading to cultural underrepresentation and placing them at academic and social disadvantages.
Enhancing Usability and Accessibility
Multimodal compositions often include interaction constraints. These can be thought of as filters that limit a user’s ability to access consumer content effectively. For example, a person who has vision impairment may experience interaction constraints when attempting to consume a photo essay. This constraint can be eased through technologies that help make the media more meaningful, such as text and audio alternatives that help the user experience the composition in a way similar to its original form.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are intended to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. However, creators of multimodal compositions can adapt and apply WCAG rules and principles, such as those discussed below, even to compositions that are not web based.
Provide Informative Titles and Headings
Content titles and headlines that accurately describe and distinguish the composition from others are helpful for contextualizing the composition. A headline usually refers to a composition within something larger, such as an article in a magazine, whereas a title encompasses an entire entity in itself, such as a novel or story that stands on its own. Consider the headline of the blog post you read earlier, “Celebrating a Win-Win: 30 Years of Progress under the Pollution Prevention Act.” This headline is informative, telling the audience that the post is about the progress of the Pollution Prevention Act. It also informs readers of the author’s perspective on this topic, clearly indicating her belief in the success of the act. For the photo essay about the war in Syria, the student writer revised the original headline to the more specific and meaningful Remnants of War—Syria.
Use Headings and Subheads to Convey Meaning and Structure
Headings and short subheads group related information, clearly describe sections of text or media, and provide an outline of the content. Although they are a standard feature of informational texts, headings and subheads can be explored within multimodal compositions as organizational and accessibility features, as they are used in the poster shown in Figure 18.24, United Nations poster. The subheads clarify the structure of the composition, indicating features such as the introduction and author’s objectives, and provide transitions between sections.
Make Link Text Meaningful
When using hyperlinks within a multimodal composition, write text that describes the content of the link target. Instead of using vague text such as “click here” or simply using the URL as the hyperlink, use the opportunity to include relevant information about the content of the link. This added content serves as a transition and emphasizes the relationship between the media. Alexandra Dapolito Dunn does this in the blog post in Annotated Sample Reading, specifying in her text the content of the link used:
public domain textPresident Trump acknowledged the effectiveness of these and other EPA programs in a 2018 Executive Order that directed federal agencies to use EPA’s P2 resources to meet their statutory sustainable purchasing requirements.end public domain text
Write Meaningful Text Alternatives for Graphics
All images and other graphic representations should have meaningful alternative text that helps readers understand the information portrayed in the image and its significance to the function of the composition. Consider Figure 18.26:
Briefly, the caption provides context and any other important information that cannot be gathered simply by looking at the image. Alternative (Alt) text, in contrast, describes only the information that can be gathered by simply looking at the image (the “what the image shows” part of the caption sentence). Alt text for this image might read “Large crowd of soccer fans waves national flags.” Alternative text is imperative for those who have vision impairments because it enables them fuller comprehension of the media.
Create Transcripts and Captions for Media
Publishing Your Work
One of the most exciting parts of composing is publishing your work. Technology affords multimodal composers numerous options for publishing. Whether or not you create your composition through digital means, you can use technology in the publishing process. First, know that you want your published product to be a finished work that incorporates the revisions and edits you made during the peer review process. This step is occasionally skipped in the multimodal composition process, mostly because digital publishing can be more accessible than other traditional publishing methods. Nevertheless, as a composer, you want your published product to be your best work.
Depending on which modes and media you include, consider the following options for publishing your multimodal advocacy project.
- Blogs, which usually include text, images, and videos, can be self-published on free or inexpensive web-based platforms such as WordPress, Adobe Experience Manager, and others. Any author or group can start a blog and create posts that incorporate multimodal content.
- As an alternative to blogs, consider the digital flipbook format, the equivalent of a digital magazine. Platforms such as Issuu allow content creators to organize content in a format in which the viewer scrolls left and right by “flipping” pages. Flipbooks offer more options for layout, organization, and transitions.
- You may instead choose to publish your completed composition on a video hosting site such as YouTube or Vimeo.
No matter what technology you choose, you will want to follow an organized writing process and ensure that your choices honor your purpose, your audience, and the organization you have chosen for your work. Thinking specifically about your advocacy project, consider what you want to accomplish and to whom you are speaking. What digital publishing options can accomplish your goals? How does your intended audience consume digital media? Choosing your publication method is as important as choosing the modes and media.