Rakesh Babu, PhD

Rakesh Babu, PhD Contact Rakesh.Babu@envisionus.com 316-440-1519 Expertise And Interests
  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
  • Job, IT & Facility Accessibility
  • Screen Reader User Experience & Website Complexity
  • Mobile Assistive Technology
  • Mental Models, Affordance, & Coping Tactics
  • Verbal Protocol Analysis, Cognitive Walkthrough, Grounded Theory Analysis

Lead Accessibility Scientist

Dr. Rakesh Babu is Envision's Lead Accessibility Scientist. His work focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion as these relate to people with vision loss. He investigates accessibility gaps and remedial measures necessary to bridge the gulf between individuals with vision loss and the rest of the society. He employs think-aloud direct observations, exploratory field studies, Delphi panels, and other scientific methods to examine pertinent research questions. His research synthesizes theories in Information Systems, Disability Studies, Human-Centered Computing and the Cognitive Sciences to inform the development of IT artifacts, organizational policies and interventions to bring about social and economic inclusion of individuals with vision loss. Findings of his research is reported in 18 journal articles and 32 conference proceedings papers. Various international, federal and regional funding agencies have sponsored different projects completed or being conducted by him.
Dr. Babu is presently conducting three studies. In one study, he is investigating how to detect, diagnose, and remediate access barriers in the work environment that impede the effective employment of individuals with vision loss. As part of this, he has conducted exploratory case studies at multiple businesses in the financial and healthcare industries. Once completed, this study will deliver a scientific process to enable an employer audit the accessibility of its workplace for employees with vision loss. In the second study, he is investigating how an individual with vision loss could manage a retail store effectively and independently. Once completed, this study will deliver a training model on retail management without sight, as well as the design principles for setting up an enabling retail environment. In the third study, he is investigating how online environments might be designed to accommodate the needs and constraints of screen-reader users. Once completed, this study will deliver a set of design guidelines on accessibility, usability, and utility of Web sites and Web applications for users with vision loss.
In addition to his full-time employment with Envision, Dr. Babu has a part-time employment with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as the Senior Scientist in the School of Information Studies (SOIS). This position precedes his full-time employment of 7 years as a member of the SOIS faculty at UWM. During this tenure, he also served as a board member of the Industries of the Blind & Visually Impaired in Milwaukee, WI. Before joining UWM, he worked briefly at Include-All AS - a Norwegian non-profit organization as the Principal Research Scientist.
 He has a Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, a Masters in Management Information Systems from the Central Michigan University, a second Masters in Organic Chemistry from Sambalpur University, and a P.G. Diploma in Labor Law & Personnel Management from LLR Law College.

Dr. Babu's CV
Dr. Babu's Biosketch
Publications View All

Barpanda, R., Reyes, J., and Babu, R. (2021). Toward a Purposeful Design Strategy for Visually Impaired Web Users. Manuscript submitted for publication. DOI: 10.1002/asi.2446910.1002/asi.24469

Xie, I., Babu, R., Lee, T.H.,  Wang, S., and Lee, H.S. (in press). Coping Tactics Applied by Blind and Visually Impaired Users: Responding to Help-Seeking Situations in the Digital Library Environment. Information Processing & Management. DOI: 10.1002/asi.2446910.1002/asi.24469

Xie, I., Babu, R., Lee, T.H.,  Wang, S., and Lee, H.S. (2021). Orientation Tactics and Associated Factors in the Digital Library Environment: Comparison between blind and sighted users. Journal of the Association for Information Science & Technology. Advanced Online Publication. DOI: 10.1002/asi.2446910.1002/asi.24469https://asistdl.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/asi.24469

Heath, D.  and Babu, R. (2020). Foundations and affordances of workplace assistive technology: The case of mobile and enabling IT for workers with visual disabilities. Assistive Technology, 32(5), 1-8. Available online at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10400435.2020.

Namboodiri, V., Ravindran, N.M., Cheraghi, S.A., and Babu, R. (2020). GuideCall: Affordable and trustworthy video call-based remote assistance. Journal on Technology & Persons with Disabilities, 8, pp. 53-68. Available online at http://scholarworks.csun.edu/handle/10211.3/215946  

Xie, I., Babu, R., Lee, T.H.,  Castillo, M.D., You, S. and Hanlon, A.M. (2020). Enhancing usability of digital libraries: Designing help features to support blind and visually impaired users. Information Processing and Management. 57(3). Available online at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306457318311129?dgcid=coauthor

Xie, I., Babu, R., Castillo, M.D., and Han, H. (2018). Identification of factors associated with blind users’ help-seeking situations in interacting with digital libraries. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology. 69(4), 514-527. doi:10.1002/asi.23982.

Heath, D. and Babu, R. (2017). Theorizing managerial perceptions, enabling IT, and the social inclusion of workers with disabilities. Information and Organization. 27(4), 211-225. DOI: 10.1016/j.infoandorg.2017.09.001.

Babu, R. and Xie, I. (2017). Haze in the Digital Library: Design Issues Hampering Accessibility for Blind Users. The Electronic Library, 35(5). https://doi.org/10.1108/EL-10-2016-0209.

Babu, R. and Heath, D. (2017). Mobile Assistive Technology and Job Fit of Blind Workers. Journal of Information, Communications and Ethics in Society (JICES), 15(2). doi: 10.1108/JICES-10-2016-0041. Available online at http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1108/JICES-10-2016-0041.

Babu, R. (2015). Blind Students' Challenges in Social Media Communication: An Early Investigation of Facebook Usability for Informal Learning. International Journal of Online Pedagogy and Course Design (IJOPCD), 5(1), 58-73. doi:10.4018/ijopcd.2015010105.

Babu, R. and Fuller, P. (2015). Towards more helpful bus tracker apps for blind transit riders. First Monday, 20(6), doi:10.5210/fm.v20i6.5536.

Xie, I., Babu, R., Joo, S., & Fuller, P. (2015). Using Digital Libraries Non-Visually: Understanding Help-Seeking Situations of Blind Users. Information Research, 20(2), paper 673. Available at http://InformationR.net/ir/20-2/paper673.html.

Babu, R. (2014). Can blind people use social media effectively? A qualitative field study of Facebook usability. American Journal of Information Systems, 2(2), pp. 33-41. Available at http://www.sciepub.com/ajis/content/2/2.

Babu, R. (2013). Understanding challenges in non-visual interaction with travel sites: An exploratory field study with blind users. First Monday, 18(12). Available at http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/4808.

Babu, R. and Singh, R. (2013). Enhancing learning management systems utility for blind students: A task-oriented, user-centered, multimethod evaluation technique. Journal of Information Technology and Education-Research, 12. Available at http://www.jite.org/documents/Vol12/JITEv12ResearchBabu001-032.pdf.

Babu, R. (2012). Developing more accurate competence models for improved e-learning for the blind. Journal of Information Science & Technology, 9(2). Available at http://pascal.iseg.utl.pt/ojs/index.php/jist/article/view/139.

Babu, R., Singh, R., and Ganesh, J. (2010). Understanding blind users' Web accessibility and usability problems. AIS Transactions on Human Computer Interaction, 2(3), 73-94.

Babu, R. and Midha, V. (2007). Accessible E-learning: Equal pedagogical opportunities for students with sensory limitations. International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies, 2(2), 38-49.