I conduct and supervise research on inclusive design of information, communication and mobility systems, with special focus on the needs of people with disabilities. I have expertise in designing systems to meet the needs of persons with visual impairments and in enabling use of mobile devices as assistive technologies for people with cognitive and speech-language impairments.
- Founding member of the Canadian Association for Inclusive Design Research (November 2015)
- Featured on the Research Matters blog of the Council of Ontario Universities (August 2015)
- Resident researcher at the Inclusive Design Institute, Canada’s first research hub focused on digital inclusion (2010 – present)
- Associate researcher at SMARTlab, University College Dublin, Ireland (2014 – present)
- Student research supervisor, MDID program, OCAD University (2013 – present)
- Postdoctoral Fellow – iSchool (Faculty of Information), University of Toronto (2010–2012)
- Research Assistant – Adaptive Technology Resource Centre (now IDRC), University of Toronto (2005–2010)
- Research Assistant – iSchool (Faculty of Information), University of Toronto (2007)
- Ph.D. Candidate – University of Toronto (2005–2010)
- M.Sc. thesis student – University College London, UK (2004–2005)
- Lead Researcher – Open Source and e-Learning Technologies Research Group (2003–2004)
- M.Sc. thesis student – Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India (1975–1977)
Student research supervisor, MDID program, OCAD University (since 2013)
Research Projects supervised as Committee Member:
- Angela Punshon (2014) Creating an Inclusive Web Framework
- Brandon Laird (2014) Time Mindfulness: Designing a Process Model and Prototype Application to Create a Preferred Future
- Lester Leung (2014) Constructing an Inclusive Web Design Checklist for Health-Related Sites for Older Adults with Complex Chronic Disease
- Qi Chen (2014) Improving Online Learning Experience through Enhanced Interactivity
- Claire Brook: Financial accessibility and inclusive value systems for finance, tax and accounting practices
- David Lawson (2015) Building a Methodological Framework for Establishing a Socio-Economic Business Case for Inclusion: The Curb Cut Effect of Accessibility Accommodations as a Confounding Variable and a Criterion Variable
- Donna Saccutelli (2015) A Design Thinking Approach to Sustainable Inclusive Shopping Environments for Grocery Shoppers with Low Vision
- Geordie Graham: A Process and Tool for Evaluation of Accessible User Expereince with Websites and Apps for Screen Reader Users who are Blind
- Hong Zou (2015) Making Stock Market Charts Accessible through Provision of Textual Information in a Common Interface
- Tomasz Pokinko (2015) Designing Mobile Applications for Older Adults with Cognitive Decline: Inclusive Design Considerations for User Experience Designers
- Yijin Jiang (2015) Information At Your Fingertips: OCADay – An Inclusive Mobile-based Information System for International Students
- Zheng Yang: Online Information Session: an Alternative Channel for Information Flow between Canadian Universities and Prospective Students
- Amita Pharshy: Designing a safe, non-intrusive, game for children to potentially detect Child Sexual Abuse (CSA)
- Caren Watkins: Effective Learning Engagement through Inclusive Learning Design: An Autoethnographic Study
- Chengyi Lu: Designing An Assistive Naming App for Mandarin-Speaking Anomic Aphasia Patients
- Dennis Wayne Lagman: A “Blind-first” Approach to Site Design
- Jingyi Lai: Self-Thinking and Self-Learning: Designing an Easy Personal Tool for Making Visual Music
- Yu Lin: Personalization and Agency of Digital Immigrants in China
- Yu Zhang: A Culturally Inclusive AAC App for Children with Autism in China
Research Projects involving cognitive disabilities that I contributed to as an instructor during 2012-14:
- Fatima Alghamdi (2013) Culturally inclusive design of educational resources for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Saudi Arabia – AAC app in Arabic for autistic children in Saudi Arabia & “Sweet home for kids” app on iTunes store
- Feriyal Hallajarani (2014) Redefining Disability in Iran through Entertainment Education – Documentary on social perception of Down Syndrome in Iran
- Mazhar Mohad (2014) An Integrated Communication System for a Special Needs Children Centre in Dubai
- Dorin Petrescue (2013) One Size Doesn’t Fit All: An Inclusive Art Therapy Approach for Communication Augmentation and Emotion Control in Children with Autism
- Sherly Thankappan (2013) Evolving a vocabulary for effective communication with non-speaking patients in situations of medical emergency / hospital intensive care – developed the medical module for http://myvoiceaac.com/app/talkrocketgo
Principal Investigator – Mitacs Globalink Award (Dec 2015-Mar 2016)
– Awarded $5000 by Mitacs Inc. for supporting a student, Amita Pharshy from December 2015 to March 2016 for conducting collaborative, cross-cultural research with Jain University, Bangalore, India.
Principal Investigator – Mitacs Globalink Award (Dec 2015-Mar 2016)
– Awarded $5000 by Mitacs Inc. for supporting a student, Yu Zhang from December 2015 to March 2016 for conducting collaborative, cross-cultural research with Nanjing University, Nanjing, China.
Principal Investigator – OCAD University Seed Grant research (2015-2016)
- Project: Online Interaction User Experience of Blind and Visually Impaired Web Users
- Awarded a Research Seed Grant of $2500 by OCAD University for conducting a one-year research project towards preparing a larger application to SSHRC within two years from the award.
Mentor/Trainer/Report writer – Inclusive Design Research Centre, OCAD University (2015-2017)
- Project: Our Doors are Open (October 2017 – December 2017)
- Funded by the Enabling Change Grant of the Government of Ontario and led by the Inclusive Design Research Centre.
- Project: OutsideIn (July 2015 – January 2016)
- Funded by the Youth Employment Services of the Government of Ontario and led by the Inclusive Design Research Centre.
- Project: ÆGIS (Ontario) (May 2015 – June 2015)
Principal Investigator – OCAD University (2014-2015)
- Project: Taking SickKids Mobile – Multipartner Project (SickKids Hospital, OCAD University, Ryerson University, George Brown College, Blackberry, Sapient Inc., Normative, iMason)
- Wrote successful application for Mitacs Accelerate Cluster Award, Canada-$120,000 for six months.
- Was academic advisor to six OCADU design interns on the project.
Academic Advisor – OCAD University (2014-2015)
- Project: Taking SickKids Mobile Project
- Responsible for overseeing and advising six OCAD University design interns in the project and ensuring quality and timeliness of deliverables.
Postdoctoral Fellow – iSchool, University of Toronto (2010–2012)
- Project: Privateye: Electronic Navigation Aids for Individuals with Visual Impairments (Sep 2010–Aug 2012)
- Funded by Mitacs Inc., Canada, $140,000 for two years.
- Collaborated with an Industry partner (Comimi Research Inc., Toronto) in the development of electronic navigational aids for pedestrians with vision impairments
- Conducted needs analysis research with individuals in Toronto who are blind or visually impaired, who use a mobile phone-based GPS system for wayfinding.
- Produced the Unmet Mobility Needs report spelling out the needs of above group and requirements for the device.
- Continuing to work on Comimi’s ongoing International Mobility Challenge (IMC) project and their Synthetic Imaging project for adapting mobile phones into navigational devices for pedestrians who are blind.
Research Assistant – Adaptive Technology Resource Centre, Univ of Toronto (2005–2010)
- Project: Fluid Engage (January 2010–April 2010)
- Funded by the Andrew-Mellon Foundation, USA and led by the Adaptive Technology Resource Centre (ATRC), University of Toronto.
- Project: CulturAll 2.0 (June 2007– August 2009) Framework for assessing Credibility on the Web
- Funded by the Canadian Culture Online Project (CCOP) of Heritage Canada and led by ATRC, University of Toronto.
- Project: CulturAll – Artists as Innovators (April 2006–March 2007)
- Funded by the Canadian Heritage New Media Network Fund and led by ATRC, University of Toronto.
- Project: Stretch – Perspectives on Inclusion (September 2005–March 2006)
- Funded by the Canadian Culture Online Project Fund and led by ATRC, University of Toronto.
Research Assistant – Faculty of Information, University of Toronto (2007)
Project: The impact of Web 2.0 on credibility indicators in health care. (March 2007–August 2007)
- Funded by CIHR Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement Sub-grant [$8000].
- Co-Principal Investigators: Laura O’Grady (FIS Post Doctoral Fellow) and Alex Jadad (Lead Innovator, Centre for Global eHealth Innovation).
Ph.D. Candidate – University of Toronto (2005–2010)
- Conducted a mixed-method study of everyday online information practices of sixty blind residents of Ontario.
- Proposed a model for online information credibility perception process in the context of non-visual Web access by screen reader users.
- Established qualitatively that promoting inclusion in the online participatory culture would enhance the information practices of screen reader users.
- Presented my research in various venues such as ASSETS (2006), OLA (2007), JCDL (2007), AACE e-Learn (2007), CSUN (2007), CSI-AHD (2008), CSUN (2009), IEEE (2009), CAIS (2010) and CDSA (2010)
M.Sc. thesis research – University College London, UK (2004–2005)
Thesis title: Accessibility vs. Usability – where is the dividing line?
- A theoretical analysis of the relationship between Web Accessibility and Usability guidelines resulting in a proposed method for distinction between accessibility and usability guidelines;
- Hypotheses tested through an experiment with students with visual impairments in London, U.K.
Lead Researcher – Open Source and e-Learning Technologies Research Group (2003–2004)
- Headed a team of six researchers that developed a Learning Management System (LMS) for IDRBT based on Open Source Technologies (Moodle) which replaced a popular commercial LMS in use at the institute until then.
M.Sc. thesis research – Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India (1975–1977)
Thesis title: Electron Spin Resonance spectroscopic study of Gamma-irradiated hydroimidazole crystals.
- A practical study of the generation of free radicals in hydroimidazole crystals through irradiation with Gamma rays and analysis of their properties.
Research Fund Raising
May 2015: Won a Research Seed Grant of $2500 from OCAD University awarded towards preparing a larger application to an external funding agency. Conducting a longitudinal study based on my PhD research.
October 2014: As Principal Investigator, obtained $120,000 funding under the Mitacs Accelerate Cluster program for a multi-partner project ‘Taking SickKids Mobile’ to develop six mobile app solutions for the SickKids Hospital between November 2014 and February 2015. The project includes six student interns from OCAD University, three student interns from Ryerson Univeristy, six business analysts from George Brown College and four industry partners – Sapient, Blackberry, Normative and iMason.
2013–present: Guided eight MDID students in planning external research projects related to their Major Research Project, writing funding applications for the Mitacs Accelerate and Mitacs Globalink programs and successfully completing the projects. Guided one student to win the SSHRC scholarship for the Masters program.
2010: Won a two-year Mitacs Elevate Industrial Postdoctoral Fellowship of $140,000 for self.
2005–2008: Contributed in part to several large multi-partner funding proposals to government bodies such as Canadian Culture Online and Industry Canada, during my employment with ATRC .