Research

A selection of my recent and past work is available here. My work is primarily in technology and development, specifically in the role of technology in greater accessibility for people with disabilities in low- and middle-income countries. I am currently also working on the role of social media in reshaping the political discourse in India.

 

Accessibility and ICTD

Accessibility and access to technology for people with disabilities has been an area of relatively less attention in the ICTD world, where marginality has typically been constructed around issues of professional profile, gender, and locational elements. My work on accessibility focuses on building individual narratives of people with disabilities, primarily vision impairments, to better understand the impacts that design decisions have on peoples’ lives.  In my work, I argue that assistive technologies and accessibility inordinately impact the lives of women with disabilities, given gendered elements of restrictions on the economic and social opportunities for women with disabilities. From an ICTD perspective, my work explores the ways in which assistive technologies live up to their promise, given the social contexts they operate in.

 

Social Media and Politics in India

Social media is reframing elements of political discourse in India, with Narendra Modi now the second most followed elected official in the world, we are seeing a reframing of the ways in which political actors are branded in popular media. I am interested in the recreation of Narendra Modi’s popular image as a development leader, on the nature and spread of his online networks, and the composition of his Twitter messages.

 

Aspiration and ICTD

I am interested in the role of aspiration in individual and institutional interest around technology as a pathway to development. I have argued that technology and computing have come to be part of the aspirational frame of people in low- and middle-income countries because of a dominant media discourse of technology as being a means of bettering both the individual and the collective. We find this in India, where, for instance for several years there has been a popular expectation that the technology sector will a collective leapfrog for the regional aggregate, through examples such as the tech boom cities. On the individual level, we find a popular discourse of globe-trotting software engineer as an object of social aspiration, which permeates down from the upper to middle- and lower-middle classes.

 

 

Cinema

I am the researcher for the feature documentary “For the Love of a Man” which explores fandom related to the Tamil film star Rajnikanth. My interest in Tamil cinema extends to the ways in which the idea of foreignness and global aspiration are projected on screen. I am interested in on the ways technology – both computing artifacts and people who work in technology such as software engineers, and more specifically gendered aspects of technology work such as the depiction of female software engineers on screen. I am also interested in the way disability in portrayed in Indian cinema.

 

Other selected publications

ICTD

 

Accessibility

  • Pal, J. (2015) “Access Technologies and Accessibility for Inclusion” The International Encyclopedia of Digital Communication and Society, Mansell, R. and Ang, P. (eds). Wiley
  • Pal, J (2013) “Assistive Technology for people with vision impairments: Engineering and workplace accommodation challenges for low-resource environments” in Heymann, J., M.A. Stein and G. Moreno (Eds.). Disability and Equity at Work (New York: Oxford University Press)
  • Pal, J., Lakshmanan, M. (2013) “Mobiles as Primary AT in India” Symposium on Disability, Technology and Rehabilitation in Low and Middle Income Countries,
  • McCarthy, E., Pal, J., Cutrell, E., (2013) “The “voice” has it: screen reader adoption and switching behavior among vision impaired persons in India” Assistive Technology, Vol 25, Issue 4
  • Pal, J (2013) “Access Technologies and Accessibility in Low- and Middle-Income Countries” in Robin Mansell and Peng Hwa Ang (eds.) (2013) International Encyclopedia of Digital Communication and Society (Wiley-Blackwell)
  • Chatterjee, S., Pal, J. (2013) CRPD Implementation and the outlook for accessibility and technology: A Study of India, Peru, Jordan, and the Philippines
  • Pal, J. (2012). “The machine to aspire to: The computer in rural south India.” First Monday 17(2-6).
  • Pal, J., Pradhan, M., Shah, M., & Babu, R. (2011) “Assistive Technology for vision-impairments: An agenda for the ICT4D community“, In Proceedings of the 20th international conference companion on World wide web (pp. 513-522). ACM.

Area Studies / Latin America

Media

Advisees