Research Articles

Designing virtual team projects with accessibility in mind: an illustrative example of cross‐cultural student collaboration




client-provider relationships, distributed teams, inclusive design, interdisciplinary collaboration, technical and professional communication, virtual exchange


We report on the results of the second-year study of an interdisciplinary, international collaboration among students and instructors at one European and two US universities. The purpose of the study was to examine whether our changing four pedagogical elements from Year 1 to Year 2 affected the students’ perceptions of learning. The primary purpose of the pedagogical collaboration itself was to involve students in authentic collaborative learning activities intended to support them in developing an understanding of disability and accessibility concepts in a business context. Students in a business English course proposed start-up companies and created business plans for their ventures. Students in an introductory professional writing course designed websites for the planned businesses, while students in a gateway technical communication course served as advisors to the other two classes regarding how to make the proposed businesses and websites accessible to people with disabilities. We collected quantitative and qualitative data through pre- and post-project surveys. These data were supplemented with qualitative data from student interactions, student submissions (work products), video conference meeting minutes, and instructors’ notes. The analysis revealed that students reported increased awareness of disability and openness to finding solutions for accessibility issues.

Author Biographies

Sushil K. Oswal, University of Washington

Sushil K. Oswal, PhD, is a professor of Human Centered Design in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and an Affiliate Professor of Disability Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington.

Zsuzsanna B. Palmer, Grand Valley State University

Zsuzsanna B. Palmer, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan where she teaches professional writing, writing for the web, and document design.

Rita Koris, Pázmány Péter Catholic University

Rita Koris, PhD, is a senior lecturer at Pázmány Péter Catholic University (Hungary) where she teaches courses of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) with special focus on the development of business communication, international collaboration and transversal skills.





Research Articles