Skip to main content

Alison Cardinal, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Phone Number
Campus Mailbox



Language and Rhetoric
University of Washington
English Studies
Western Washington University
English and Theology
Whitworth University


My scholarly expertise lies at the intersection of language justice, technical communication, and content design. In all my work, I’m committed to language justice approaches in my scholarship, community-based work, and teaching. Language justice asserts that all people should be able to fully and equitably participate in our communities and access services in their preferred language. Language justice fosters cultural vitality, autonomy, and dignity by allowing people to communicate without being stigmatized. My work seeks to develop and practice ways of decentering English as the default way of speaking and communicating in our institutions to work towards equity for multilingual communities. My approach to language justice comes from a technical communication angle. Drawing on approaches from UX (user experience), my work uses a human-centered design approach to create and share knowledge in both scholarly and community spaces.

One of my main area of expertise is in research methods, especially approaches that use participatory research methods. Through these types of approaches, researchers collaborate with research participants to create knowledge and work together to collect and share what they find. My recent research in this area has focused on the use of participatory video, where participants film their own environments, to research multilingual communities and their language and literacy practices.

Current Research

My current major projects focus on language justice through community-engaged partnerships. I am currently the Director of Designing Language Access, a cross-institutional and community-based research and consulting group. In collaboration with health professionals, civil servants, non-profit professionals, and scholars, we work towards systematically improving language access in the region.

Scholarly Interests

Participatory Research Methods
Participatory Design
Qualitative Research Methods
Literacy Studies
Language Justice
Digital Rhetoric
Multilingual User Experience
Community-Engaged Scholarship


TGID 320 Innovation and Design Studio
TWRT 353 User Experience Writing
TWRT 350 Principles of User Centered Design
TWRT 330 Written and Visual Rhetoric
TWRT 291 Technical Communication in the Workplace
TWRT 120/121 Academic Writing


Designing Language Access
Association of Teachers of Technical Writing
Association of Computing Machinery
Special Interest Group of the Design of Communication (SIGDOC)
UX Content Collective

Honors and Awards

2023 Distinguished Community Engagement Award

2020 Computers and Composition Ellen Nold Best Article Award
“Participatory Video: An Apparatus for Ethically Researching Literacy, Power and Embodiment”

2020 Computers and Composition Hugh Burns Best Dissertation Award
How Literacy Flows and Comes to Matter: A Participatory Video Study