As part of a practice-led research project which explored the roles of design disciplines in promoting awareness and development of Paralympic sports, and in collaboration with the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC), the authors developed a project with two case studies that addressed the roles of visual culture in design for athletes with disabilities, in the context of the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. The first case study encompassed historic and visual research to produce 13 posters about Australian Paralympic history, and is discussed in more detail in other papers by the authors. The second case study involved Masters in Industrial Design (MID) students to develop design solutions for the APC’s Paralympian of the Year (POTY) award 2012 ceremony, as part of a vertical studio for year 1 and year 2 masters students. The paper discusses the implications of such a project for staff, students and collaborators, within the frameworks of work-integrated learning (WIL) and research-based teaching in a postgraduate design studio. Conclusions discuss implications of designing for Paralympians, as well as aspects of work integrated learning, research-based teaching and practice-led research, highlighting positive and negative aspects of this experience and providing guidelines for the development of future similar projects.