The University of Southampton

Dr Abi James 

Personal homepage

I am a research fellow research with the Accessibility Team in Web and Internet Science Group at the University of Southampton investigating how to improve the design and evaluation of web and learning technologies to remove barriers for disabled learners. I spent 12 years as a product manager in the commercial assistive technology sector. This involved contributing to the whole development process for new learning technologies - from initial design, through development to commercial launch and user training. In parallel I was involved in commercial and academic research projects to evaluate the impact of assistive technology with a particular focus on access to e-text, writing and note-taking. More recently I have been involved in projects to design mobile apps, web services and software tools to improve usability and accessibility of digital materials and learning. As chair of the British Dyslexia Association New Technologies Committee I work with organisations to improve technology-based reasonable adjustments in exams and e-assessments as well as removing the barriers to accessing and adopting assistive technologies in education.


Research interests

My research interests include:

  • use and impact of techologies by disabled learners;
  • paedoggy and elearning of digital accessibiltiy 
  • accessible web development processes and techniques;
  • influences on technology adoption by disabled users, in particular the interface of design, usability and external support;
  • text to speech and note-taking technologies;
  • accessible  e-assessment and use of assistive technology in assessment;
  • inclusive learning practices, particularly the impact of digital accessibility and e-text.


Draffan, E.A. and James, A. (2004) Comparative evaluation of technology solutions for supporting the writing of dyslexic children and adults. Fawcett, A (ed.) Sixth BDA International Conference, University of Warwick, United Kingdom. 27 - 29 Mar 2004.

Evans, D.G., Draffan, E.A., James, A. and Blenkhorn, P. (2006) Do Text-to-Speech Synthesisers Pronounce Correctly? A Preliminary Study. Miesenberger, K., Klaus, J., Zagler, W.L. and Karshmer, A.I. (eds.) Computers Helping People with Special Needs, 10th International Conference, ICCHP2006, Linz, Austria. 10 - 12 Jul 2006. pp. 874-881 .

Draffan, E.A., McNaught, A. and James, A. (2014) eBooks, accessibility and the catalysts for culture change. In Computers Helping People with Special Needs. vol. 8548, Springer International Publishing. pp. 543-550 . (doi:10.1007/978-3-319-08599-9_80).

Draffan, E.A., James, A., Cudd, P. and Bentley, C (2015) Barriers and facilitators to uptake of assistive technologies: summary of a literature exploration. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics, 217, 350-356. (doi:10.3233/978-1-61499-566-1-350). (PMID:26294496)

Draffan, E.A., James, Abi, Wald, Mike and Idris, Amal (2016) Framework for selecting assistive technology user-participation methods. Journal of Assistive Technologies, 10 (2), 92-101. (doi:10.1108/JAT-01-2016-0007).

James, Abi, Draffan, E.A. and Wald, Mike (2016) Learning through videos: are disabled students using good note-taking strategies? Miesenberger, Klaus, Buhler, Christian and Penaz, Petr (eds.) In Computers Helping People with Special Needs; 15th International Conference, ICCHP 2016 Linz, Austria, July 13–15, 2016 Proceedings, Part I. Springer. pp. 461-467 . (doi:10.1007/978-3-319-41264-1_63).

James, Abi (2012) Signing recognition and Cloud bring advances for inclusion. Journal of Assistive Technologies, 6 (2), 152-157. (doi:10.1108/17549451211234993).

Draffan, E.A., James, Abi and Martin, Nicola (2017) Inclusive teaching and learning: what's next? The Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education, 9 (1).

James, Abi, Draffan, E.A. and Wald, Michael (2017) Comparing accessibility auditing methods for ebooks: crowdsourced, functionality-led versus web content methodologies. In Harnessing the Power of Technology to Improve Lives. vol. 242, IOS Press. pp. 969-976 . (doi:10.3233/978-1-61499-798-6-969).

James, Abi, Draffan, E.A. and Wald, Michael (2017) Designing Web-Apps for all: How do we include those with cognitive disabilities? In, Harnessing the Power of Technology to Improve Lives. (HASH(0xe7373c8), 242) Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe 2017: Harnessing the power of technology to improve lives (13/09/17 - 14/09/17) IOS Press, pp. 665-668. (doi:10.3233/978-1-61499-798-6-665).

Eilas, Mirette, James, Abi, Lohmann, Steffen, Auer, Sören and Wald, Mike (2018) Towards an open authoring tool for accessible slide presentations. Miesenberger, K. and Kouroupetroglou, G. (eds.) In Computers Helping People with Special Needs. ICCHP 2018. vol. 10896, Springer. pp. 172-180 . (doi:10.1007/978-3-319-94277-3_29).

Draffan, E.A., James, Abi, Wilkinson, Sue and Viney, D. (2014) Assistive technology and associated training: a survey of students who have received the Disabled Students' Allowances. The Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education, 5, 5-10.

Wilkinson, Sue, Draffan, E.A., James, Abi and Viney, D. (2014) Can we find the missing piece?: A survey of students who have received the Disabled Students' Allowances [DSAs]: Non-Medical Helper Support. The Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education, 5, 56-66.

Draffan, E. A., Leon, Manuel, James, Abi, Aljaloud, Saud and Wald, Mike (2018) Completion, comments and repurposing a digital accessibility MOOC. In Computers Helping People with Special Needs - 16th International Conference, ICCHP 2018, Proceedings. vol. 10896 LNCS, Springer-Verlag. pp. 138-145 . (doi:10.1007/978-3-319-94277-3_24).

Woods, Kevin, James, Abi and Hipkiss, Amanda (2018) Best practice in access arrangements made for England's General Certificates of Secondary Education (GCSEs): where are we 10 years on? British Journal of Special Education. (doi:10.1111/1467-8578.12221).

Elias, Mirette, James, Abi, Ruckhaus, Edna, Suárez-Figueroa, Mari Carmen, De Graaf, Klaas Andries, Khalili, Ali, Wulff, Benjamin, Lohmann, Steffen and Auer, Sören (2018) SlideWiki: towards a collaborative and accessible platform for slide presentations. CEUR Workshop Proceedings, 2193.

Lewthwaite, Sarah and James, Abi (2020) Accessible at last?: what do new European digital accessibility laws mean for disabled people in the UK? Disability & Society, 35 (8), 1360-1365. (doi:10.1080/09687599.2020.1717446).


Share this profile FacebookTwitterWeibo