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  • Abstract

    With the proliferation of information technology devices also comes a massive increase in the number of information systems that are developed to meet the demands of users. By default, designers and developers of information systems tend to design for users without disabilities. The consequences for people with disabilities are enormous. This chapter aims to propose a disability-aware approach to information systems design that advocates that stakeholders consider the needs of people with disabilities throughout development. This aim is achieved by reviewing some of the difficulties encountered by people with disabilities when interacting with information systems, proposing a disability-aware approach and examining how this could be practically implemented through e-learning design. The recommendations from 48 students with disabilities from two universities in the United Kingdom and Canada are presented. The chapter also looks at possible future research for those interested in pursuing such approach.

    Nganji, J. T. (2018). A Disability-Aware Mentality to Information Systems Design and Development. In M. Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Fourth Edition(pp. 314-324). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. doi:10.4018/978-1-5225-2255-3.ch028 [Link to Encyclopedia article]
  • Abstract

    Blended learning could be seen as the solution to learning resources accessibility especially when the indicators of measure are limited to distance and time. Distance and time could be said to be the generic indicators for the measure of blended learning, however, these do not solve the problem for everyone in the society. For Inclusive Blended Learning (IBL), different types of users in society should be considered in its design. This is exactly what has provoked the focus of this chapter, to investigate the position of blended learning with respect to people with disability. The chapter's investigation is centered on selected secondary schools in Cameroon and Nigeria.


    Nganji, J.T. and Nggada, S. H. (2014). Adoption of Blended Learning Technologies in Selected Secondary Schools in Cameroon and Nigeria: Challenges in Disability Inclusion. In N. Ololube (Ed.), Advancing Technology and Educational Development through Blended Learning in Emerging Economies (pp. 159-173). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-4574-5.ch009. [Link to Book Chapter]

  • Abstract

    Two hundred portable document format (PDF) articles from four Web of Science‐indexed disability‐related journals were analysed to assess their accessibility. Fifty articles from each journal published between 2014 and 2018 were examined using expert manual inspection, Adobe Acrobat Pro XI, PDF Accessibility Checker 3 and NVDA screen reader. Results show that only 15.5% of the documents were tagged, only 10.5% had alternative text for images, 74.5% had bookmarks to facilitate navigation, and 87% had meaningful titles in their title fields. However, image alternative texts were meaningless, and title fields were not displayed when the document was open. However, all the documents had accessibility permissions enabled; hence, they could be read with Adobe Acrobat Pro XI Read Out Loud feature and NVDA screen reader. All the articles had an alternative HTML version of their full text in the same location on their website as the PDF versions. The inconsistency with which each PDF was produced suggests the need for an improvement in the workflow process to improve accessibility.


    Nganji, J.T. (2018). An assessment of the accessibility of PDF versions of selected journal articles published in a WCAG 2.0 era (2014–2018). Learned Publishing 31 (4), 391-401

  • Absract

    People with visual impairments, particularly blind people face a lot of difficulties browsing the web with assistive technologies such as screen readers, when websites do not conform to accessibility standards and are thus inaccessible. HTML is the basic language for website design but its ALT attribute on the IMG element does not adequately capture comprehensive image semantics and description in a way that can be accurately interpreted by screen readers, hence blind people do not usually get the complete description of the image. Most of the problems however arise from web designers and developers not including a description of an image or not comprehensively describing these images to people with visual impairments. In this paper, we propose the use of the Image Description Assessment Tool (IDAT), a Java-based tool containing some proposed heuristics for assessing how well an image description matches the real content of the image on the web. The tool also contains a speech interface which can enable a visually impaired individual to listen to the description of an image that has been uploaded unto the system.


    Nganji, J.T., Brayshaw, M., and Tompsett, B. (2013). Describing and Assessing Image Descriptions for Visually Impaired Web Users with IDAT, In 3rd International Conference on Intelligent Human Computer Interaction, Springer-Verlag, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, August 2011, reprinted in Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, Volume 179, Springer Verlag, 2013, pp 27-37, ISSN: 2194-5357 (Print) 2194-5365 (Online). [Link to article] [Link to PDF]

  • Abstract

    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to address how virtual learning environments (VLEs) can be designed to include the needs of learners with multiple disabilities. Specifically, it employs AI to show how specific learning materials from a huge repository of learning materials can be recommended to learners with various disabilities. This is made possible through employing semantic web technology to model the learner and their needs.

    Design/methodology/approach: The paper reviews personalised learning for students with disabilities, revealing the shortcomings of existing e-learning environments with respect to students with multiple disabilities. It then proceeds to show how the needs of a student with multiple disabilities can be analysed and then simple logical operators and knowledge-based rules used to personalise learning materials in order to meet the needs of such students.

    Findings: It has been acknowledged in literature that designing for cases of multiple disabilities is difficult. This paper shows that existing learning environments do not consider the needs of students with multiple disabilities. As they are not flexibly designed and hence not adaptable, they cannot meet the needs of such students. Nevertheless, it is possible to anticipate that students with multiple disabilities would use learning environments, and then design learning environments to meet their needs.

    Practical implications: This paper, by presenting various combination rules to present specific learning materials to students with multiple disabilities, lays the foundation for the design and development of learning environments that are inclusive of all learners, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. This could potentially stimulate designers of such systems to produce such inclusive environments. Hopefully, future learning environments will be adaptive enough to meet the needs of learners with multiple disabilities.

    Social implications: This paper, by proposing a solution towards developing inclusive learning environments, is a step towards inclusion of students with multiple disabilities in VLEs. When these students are able to access these environments with little or no barrier, they will be included in the learning community and also make valuable contributions.

    Originality/value: So far, no study has proposed a solution to the difficulties faced by students with multiple disabilities in existing learning environments. This study is the first to raise this issue and propose a solution to designing for multiple disabilities. This will hopefully encourage other researchers to delve into researching the educational needs of students with multiple disabilities.



    Julius T. NganjiMike Brayshaw, (2017) "Disability-aware adaptive and personalised learning for students with multiple disabilities", The International Journal of Information and Learning Technology, Vol. 34 Issue: 4, pp.307-321,

  • Abstract

    In developing software systems, software engineers use software development life cycles such as the waterfall, prototyping or spiral model. Whilst these life cycles ensure that the system meets the needs of people without disabilities, the needs of people with disabilities are often overlooked thus resulting in systems that are inaccessible and unusable to them. In this paper, we propose a disability-aware software engineering process model which considers the needs of people with disabilities, hence improving accessibility and usability of the designed system. These needs are captured through the accessibility, usability and functional requirements of the system in the requirements analysis phase of the life cycle model.


    Nganji, J.T., and Nggada, S.H. (2011). Disability-Aware Software Engineering for Improved System Accessibility and Usability. International Journal of Software Engineering and Its Applications (IJSEIA). Vol. 5, No.3, pp.47-62. [ Link to article ]

  • Abstract

    This paper looks specifically at how to develop light weight methods of evaluating pedagogically motivated software. Whilst we value traditional usability testing methods this paper will look at how Heuristic Evaluation can be used as both a driving force of Software Engineering Iterative Refinement and end of project Evaluation. We present three case studies in the area of Pedagogical Software and show how we have used this technique in a variety of ways. The paper presents results and reflections on what we have learned. We conclude with a discussion on how this technique might inform on the latest developments on delivery of distance learning.


    Brayshaw, M., Gordon, N., Nganji, J., Wen, L., and Butterfield, A. (2014). Investigating Heuristic Evaluation as a Methodology for Evaluating Pedagogical Software: an Analysis Employing Three Case Studies. 16th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction-HCII2014 , 17-22 June, Crete, Greece, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Vol. 8523, pp.25-35.[Link to article]

  • Abstract

    The number of students with disabilities in UK higher education institutions increases every year. Delivering education online is becoming increasingly challenging as institutions encounter some disabilities requiring adjustments of learning environments. The law requires that people with disabilities be given equivalent learning experiences to their non-disabled peers through “reasonable adjustments”. Educational institutions have thus utilised assistive technologies to assist disabled students in their learning, but some of these technologies are incompatible with some learning environments, hence excluding some disabled students and resulting in a disability divide. To solve this problem, amongst other solutions, e-learning personalisation has been used and more recently, this is also achieved using Semantic Web technologies such as ontologies. Nevertheless, as ontologies are incorporated into learning environments little seems to be done to personalise learning for some disabled students. This study, in order to bridge the gap, proposes a personalisation approach based on a disability ontology containing information on various disabilities encountered in higher education, which can be used to present disabled students with learning resources relevant and suitable for their specific needs.


    Nganji, J.T., Brayshaw, M. and Tompsett, B. (2011). Ontology-Based E-Learning Personalisation for Disabled Students in Higher Education. Innovation in Teaching and Learning in Information and Computer Sciences, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp. 1-11. [Link to article]

  • Abstract

    Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to show how personalisation of learning resources and services can be achieved for students with and without disabilities, particularly responding to the needs of those with multiple disabilities in e-learning systems. The paper aims to introduce the ONTODAPS e-learning system which has the mechanism for such personalisation.

    Design/methodology/approach - This paper reviews current e-learning systems that provide personalisation for students, including their strengths and weaknesses. The paper presents personalisation and its techniques and then presents ONTODAPS which is an ontology-driven and disability-aware e-learning system which personalises learning resources and services to students. Three case studies are considered to show how personalisation is achieved using ONTODAPS.

    Findings - This paper shows that it is possible to use automated ontology-based agents intercommunicating to provide an effective personalisation for disabled students. The results reveal that ONTODAPS is flexible enough to provide enough control and freedom to drive their learning. The results also suggest that ONTODAPS has the ability to provide appropriate levels of learner control by allowing them to self-direct learning through personalising learning resources and then allowing them to choose which resources they wish to access. This thus gives them a sense of ownership and control.

    Research limitations/implications - This research reveals that it is possible for e-learning systems to personalise learning for users with multiple disabilities. Thus, by considering the needs of such users and consulting them in the design and development process, developers of e-learning systems can produce systems that are both accessible and usable to students with disabilities.


    Nganji, J.T., Brayshaw, M. and Tompsett, B. (2013). Ontology-Driven Disability-Aware E-Learning Personalisation with ONTODAPS. Campus Wide Information Systems, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp. 17-34. [Link to article] [Link to PDF]

  • Abstract

    Purpose: This paper aims to suggest how the information journey of students with disabilities could be facilitated, by first revealing the existence of inaccessible formats such as Portable Document Format (PDF) and then suggesting the inclusion of alternative formats of accessible learning materials, thus improving retrieval.

    Design/methodology/approach: A sample of 400 articles published over 10 years (2009-2018) from four journals are selected and analysed for accessibility against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG 2.0 by using automated accessibility checkers, a screen reader and manual human expertise. The results are presented and recommendations made on improving accessibility.
    Findings: The findings suggest that the PDF versions of the selected journal articles are not accessible for screen reader users but could be improved by adopting accessible and inclusive practices. Including alternative formats of the learning materials could help support the student information journey.

    Research limitations/implications: The results of the study might not be very representative of all the articles in the journals given the small sample size. Additionally, the criteria used in the study do not consider all existing disabilities. Thus, although the PDFs may be inaccessible for some people with disabilities, they may be accessible to others.

    Practical implications: Given that PDFs seem to be the preferred format of journal articles online, there is potential for a difficult information journey for some students due to the limitations posed by inaccessibility of the PDFs. Thus, it is recommended to include alternative formats which could be more accessible, giving the student the choice of accessing the learning materials in their preferred format.

    Social implications: If students are unable to access the learning materials that are required for their course, this could lead to poor grade, which might negatively affect the students’ morale. In some cases, some students might drop out.

    Originality/value: This study analyses the accessibility of learning materials provided by a third party (journal publishers) and how they affect the student, something that is not usually given much importance when research in accessibility is carried out.



    Julius T. Nganji, (2018) "Supporting the information journey of students with disabilities through accessible learning materials", Information and Learning Science, Vol. 119 Issue: 12, pp.721-732,

  • Abstract

    People with disabilities, especially those who are blind, rely on assistive technologies to read information on the web. When this information does not conform to accessibility standards, assistive technologies experience significant difficulties trying to interpret it. Journal publishers prefer to publish articles online in the portable document format (PDF), which may pose accessibility challenges when guidelines such as WCAG 2.0 are not adhered to. So far, no studies have been carried out to evaluate the accessibility of published versions of journal articles in PDF format. A total of 200 articles, 50 articles each from Taylor & Francis' Disability & Society, Springer's Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, Hammill Institute on Disabilities/SAGE's Journal of Learning Disabilities and Elsevier's Research in Developmental Disabilities, which are all ISI Web of Science indexed journals published from 2009 to 2013, were analyzed manually, automatically, and with screen readers for accessibility. The results reveal that 97% did not provide an alternative text for images; 95.5% were not tagged; only 13.5% had meaningful titles which were not displayed when the document was opened; 67% did not have a defined document language; 50% bookmarks, which help in navigation; all had accessibility permissions, enabling assistive technologies to interact with them; 99.5% did not have a logical reading order; none had a consistent heading structure; and all, including untagged documents which were not image-only PDFs documents could be read with screen readers such as NVDA if the correct accessibility settings in Adobe Acrobat XI Pro were chosen. Research in Developmental Disabilities documents were generally more accessible.


    Nganji, J.T. (2015). The Portable Document Format (PDF) Accessibility Practice of Four Journal Publishers. Library and Information Science Research, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp. 254-262. [Link to article].

Julius T. Nganji's Profile


Julius T. Nganji, PhD

Researcher, passionate about digital accessibility & usability and improving user experience.

Adjunct Lecturer

Department of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy
Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto



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