The Totem Project: Pluralizing Access in the Academic Classroom

Part of the Critical Studies of Education book series (CSOE, volume 12)


Objects as communicative devices have been compulsory among many individuals who are deafblind. Within such communities, deafblind individuals utilize a “talking stick” to orientate corporeal relations that are defined through spatial organization. The talking stick guides individuals toward mutual proximity—one individual orients to the other by occupying each end of the talking stick. This chapter introduces an object called the totem that functions, like the talking stick, to mediate conversation. Whereas the talking stick mediates conversation among two people, the totem is designed to facilitate group conversation.


Access Real-time Captioning Conversation mediation Totem Social norms 


  1. Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bauman, H.-D. L., & Murray, J. J. (2013). Deaf studies in the 21st century: “Deaf-Gain” and the future of human diversity. The Disability Studies Reader, 246–260.Google Scholar
  3. Bower, G. C., & Leigh Star, S. (1999). Sorting things out: Classification and its consequences. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  4. Flanagan, M. (2013). Critical play: Radical game design. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  5. Friedner, M. I. (2015). Valuing deaf worlds in urban India. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Halberstam, J. (2011). The queer art of failure. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hamraie, A. (2013). Designing collective access: A feminist disability theory of universal design. Disability Studies Quarterly, 33(4). Retrieved February 26, 2016, from
  8. Hunter, L. (2015). The embodied classroom: Deaf gain in multimodal composition and digital studies. The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, 8. Retrieved February 26, 2016.Google Scholar
  9. Kafer, A. (2013). Feminist, queer, crip. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Kerschbaum, S. L. (2014). Toward a new rhetoric of difference. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.Google Scholar
  11. Mace, R. (1985). Universal design: Barrier free environments for everyone. Los Angeles, CA: Designerswest.Google Scholar
  12. McRuer, R. (2006). Crip theory: Cultural signs of queerness and disability. New York: NYU Press.Google Scholar
  13. Mingus, M. (2010). Reflections from Detroit: Reflections on an opening: Disability justice and creating collective access in Detroit. INCITE Blog. Retrieved May 6, 2016 from
  14. Mitchell, D., Snyder, S., & Ware, L. (2014). “[Every] Child Left Behind”: Curricular cripistemologies and the crip/queer art of failure. Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies, 8(3), 295–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. O’Toole, C. (2013). Disclosing our relationships to disabilities: An invitation for disability studies scholars. Disability Studies Quarterly, 33(2).
  16. Pink, S. (2009). Doing sensory ethnography. London, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Vesna, V. (2007). Database aesthetics: Art in the age of information overflow (Electronic Mediations). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of CommunicationUniversity of California San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.Visual Arts, Communication and Science StudentUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  3. 3.William & MaryWilliamsburgUSA
  4. 4.Department of Communication UCSD VesnaLa JollaUSA

Personalised recommendations