Raja Kushalnagar

Accessibility Advocate

Role: Director, Gallaudet University in Washington, DC.

Location: Washington, D.C.

Pronouns: he/his

Race/Ethnicity: Asian

Education: B.S. Applied Physics, Angelo State University; M.S. Computer Science, Rochester Institute of Technology; JD, Texas Southern University; LLM Intellectual Property, University of Houston; PhD Computer Science, University of Houston

Fun Facts: I don’t care how you say my name, but I care how you spell my name, as my first language is written English, and I do not have access to spoken English.

About His Work: His research interests encompass the fields of accessible computing and accessibility/intellectual property law, with the goal of improving information access for people with sensory disabilities. In the accessible computing field, he investigates information and communication access disparities for people with sensory disabilities. For example, he investigates technology that can aid communication or learning through speech-to-text (captions/subtitles) or sign language interpreters, for deaf, hard of hearing, low vision or blind people. In the legal field, he advocates for laws and policies for access and inclusion for people with sensory disabilities, such as automatic captions or audio description.

Watch & Discuss

In this video, Raja presents on 'Tactile Captions: Augmenting Visual Captions'. Closed captions are not fully accessible, because many auditory signals are not easily represented by words, e.g., the sound of the ball being hit by a bat, or to describe a ring tone. Take for example movie scenes-viewers cannot simultaneously watch the movie scenes and read the visual captions; instead they have to switch between the two and inevitably lose information and context in watching the movies. In contrast, hearing viewers can simultaneously listen to the audio and watch the scenes.

  • Videos should be produced and delivered in ways that ensure that all members of the audience can access their content. Identify 3 applications that are currently being used to meet the suggestions Raja puts forward.

  • Research creative ways that companies are offering captioning services.

Extension Activities

Digital accessibility is an important issue that needs to be front and center for educators across the country. However, implementing a comprehensive accessibility initiative throughout an entire agency or institution can seem like an overwhelming task. Fortunately, there are actions you can take in the short term (even today!) to help get you started.