Spotlight on Sushil K. Oswal

One of the best aspects of being a part of this community is learning with and from such tremendous colleagues. People working at the Disability Studies/Rhet-Comp nexus are producing fantastic work right now (as I hope we showcased in our last blog). This blog entry showcases one particular scholar whose work intersects the areas of technology, accessibility, and disability. If you don’t know his work already,  you should!

Sushil K. Oswal is a Technical Communication faculty member in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington-Tacoma as well as faculty of Disability Studies at the University of Washington-Seattle. He is a former Taft Fellow and the winner of C.R. Anderson Award for his Environmental Communication research in the area of environmental technology applications in the research and development division of a Japanese-owned company. As a driving voice in our field, his work has addressed faculty access and accommodations, accessibility issues for visually impaired students, design problems in learning management systems employed by higher education, self-service kiosks in the banking industry, and the development of best practices in online writing instruction. He is the accessibility architect and co-author of the College Composition and Communication Conference’s 2013 “Position Statement of Principles and Example Effective Practices for Online Writing Instruction (OWI)”, which should be required reading for all writing program administrators and instructors aiming to thoughtfully engage accessibility as they design online curricula.

One of his publications, “Ableism,” a part of collaborative project under the banner of “Multimodality in Motion” for Kairos, offers both a demonstration and an invitation for multimodal rhetoric informed by disability. At the 2014 Computers and Writing Conference in Pullman, Washington, the Computers and Composition Digital Press presented the Accessibility and Digital Composition Award to this project. His chapter on E-portfolios also received an honorable mention from the same sponsor.

Dr. Oswal is presently working on a cross-Atlantic project with colleagues in the United Kingdom on the topic of “Avoidance in the Academy” which aims at critiquing the ways the contemporary  university compulsively ignores disability by making it invisible through its ableist policies and structures while simultaneously tolerating the presence of its disabled members to avoid legal and social complications. So we’ll have that work to look forward to…

In addition to his scholarship, Sushil maintains an invaluable presence at our flagship conference (CCCC), sharing research ideas at the Standing Group for Disability Studies meetings and providing service and critical insight to the Committee on Disability Issues in College Composition (CDICC). Beyond CCCC, he sits on the Disability Committee of the Council for Writing Program Administration and consults in the area of digital technology and accessibility with industry. We invite you to engage his work and cruise through the suggested reading list we’ve provided below. Sushil is also open to being contacted if you have questions, comments, or just want to introduce yourself to a fellow colleague. He can be e-mailed at

Big thanks to Sushil for his willingness to participate in this showcase and for his contributions to our field. We wish everyone happy reading!

Tara & Hilary

Selected Publications

“Participatory Design: Barriers and Possibilities.” Communication Design Quarterly 2.3 (June 2014).
“Paying Attention to Accessibility and Disability in Technical and Professional Communication Online Course Design.” Journal of Business and Technical Communication (October 2014).
“Access to Digital Library Databases in Higher Education: Design Problems and Infrastructural Gaps.” WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation (July 2014).
“Faculty Members, Accommodation, and Access in Higher Education”, Co-Authored with Stephanie Kerschbaum, et. al. Profession. (December 2013).
Book Review, The Online Writing Conference: A Guide for Teachers and Tutors, by Beth L. Hewett, Composition Studies 41.2 (Fall 2013): 3.
“Multimodality in Motion: Ableism.” Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy 18.1 (August 2013).
“Accessible ePortfolios for Visually-Impaired Users: Interfaces, Designs and Infrastructures.” In K. V. Wills, & R. Rice (Eds.), Eportfolio Performance Support Systems: Constructing, Presenting, and Assessing
. Anderson, SC: Parlor Press. (2013): 133-151.
“Exploring Accessibility as a Potential Area of Research for Technical Communication: A Modest Proposal.” Communication Design Quarterly 1.4, (August 2013): 50-60.
“Accessibility Challenges for Visually Impaired Students and their Online Writing Instructors.” In Lisa Meloncon (Ed.), Rhetorical Accessibility: At the Intersection of Technical
Communication and Disability Studies
. Amityville, NY: Baywood Publishing Company, Inc. (2013): 135-155.
“A Position Statement of Principles and Example Effective Practices for Online Writing Instruction (OWI)”, Co-Authored with the Committee of Conference on College Composition and Communication for Best Practices in Online Writing Instruction. Digital Publication at (March
2013): 1-35.


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