Sayeda Akbary at Grad Ex 2013. Photo by Christina Gapic.
Part of Sayeda Akbary's project, All That's Been Said and Done. Image by Sayeda Akbary.

Sayeda Akbary’s medal award-winning project, All That’s Been Said and Done is a participatory video installation. Here’s how she describes it:

The title of my thesis is All That’s Been Said & Done. The project is a video installation based on the different lifestyles of people in the western society (Us) and people in the third world countries (Them). The installation is a replica of a room, in an Afghani village, with two full wall projections facing each other. The space between the projections forms an extension for the audience to fully participate and share the space of a third world society and its people. As part of the project, I distributed over forty disposable cameras to children around the different villages during my visit and assigned them a task to help us see through their eyes. Throughout this approach, I used graphic design as a creative process to convey a specific message to a targeted audience through visual communication and presentation. By using various methods of combining images, sound, video, typography and page layout, my aim is to produce a balanced and focused installation that visually represents my ideas and messages.

What inspired you and motivated you to do this project?

What inspired me were the experiences I faced when I first visited Afghanistan, after a very long time, in June of 2011. I felt there was a barrier between my extended family and Us because of our social class and standards. Through my approach, I wanted to remove these barriers and help Them share our experiences while we shared theirs. I wanted Them to feel that there is nothing that marks one of us better than the other and there are no barriers that can stop us from living the lives and sharing the experiences of each other.

What part of the process of creating this project did you learn the most from?

I learned the most from re-visiting Afghanistan in December of 2012 to gather further research for this project and I would say that was by far the best decision I ever made. This was an opportunity where I got to work in person with the children of my village. I was able to share their space with them and learn from them. I shared my knowledge of the western society with them in return. We soon started to adapt each other’s behaviour and physical language. They soon felt that sharing the “western” experiences made them as good as the “westerners” and that there was nothing left to make one of us better than the other. I learned about these children’s feelings and their future dreams. 

What part of the process of creating this project are you the most proud of?

I am really proud of making the Afghanistan trip happen for this project. I was also extremely happy and satisfied with how my final installation turned out. It served the purpose really well and knowing that the audience fully experienced and understood the atmosphere of the installation was definitely a good feeling.

How did you react to the news that you won a medal for your work?

I was surprised, excited and out of words, but I think I was more happy to know that I had achieved the goal I had set for myself and that was to get my message and ideas across. It has definitely motivated me to continue making important differences in people’s lives. 

What’s your fondest memory from your studies at OCAD U, and what will you miss the most?

The past years at OCAD U have been magnificent. As a student monitor, full time staff member and a full time student, I have met so many different amazing students, coworkers and instructors who have challenged me and supported me in every step to pushing my limits. My finest moments are the time and the knowledge I have shared with the OCAD U community. 

What are you planning to do next?

I am currently working on an upcoming exhibition planned for August that will feature my work together with thesis work by my peers. My plan is to do as many exhibitions as possible throughout the next year. I will also be attending OCAD U to complete my minor in INTM. Future plans are to complete a Master’s program.

Find out more about Sayeda Akbary:

LinkedIn Profile


Jutta Treviranus, Director, IDRC, Hon. David D. Onley, Lieutenant Governor, Dr. Sara Diamond, OCAD U President.

A major international student design challenge to reimagine the traditional symbol of access launched at OCAD U’s Inclusive Design Research Centre on Friday, September 20 with an announcement by the Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, and OCAD U’s President, Dr. Sara Diamond. All post-secondary students are invited to enter.

"Today is the beginning of an exciting challenge to modernize the traditional blue wheelchair symbol," said Onley. "Fewer than three percent of people with disabilities use a wheelchair or, as I do, an electric scooter." As a result, the wheelchair symbol reflects only a tiny fraction of the community. "It is neither welcoming nor inclusive," said Onley. "Let's make the stick figure a real person and turn the symbol into a welcome sign."

The International Symbol of Access was introduced 45 years ago. Its original designer was Susanne Koefoed, then a Danish graphic design student who submitted an original design to a competition hosted by the Scandinavian Design Students Organization. Karl Montan, the first director of the Swedish Handicap Insitute and Chair of the RI International Commission for Technical Aids (ICTA) modified Koefoed’s original simple motif of a stick figure using a wheelchair (he added a head to humanize it), and it was endorsed by the World Congress in Dublin. The symbol was then officially recognized by the International Standards Organization and universally adopted by the United Nations. 

Although the symbol is an iconic international standard, much has changed since 1968:

• Less than three per cent of persons with disabilities in Ontario use a wheelchair or electric scooter for mobility purposes

• The reality of disability is now understood to be multifaceted

• The potential for accessibility evolved and encompasses more

• Technology advanced dramatically

The goal of the Reimagining Accessibility Design Challenge is to replace the traditional wheelchair sign, nicknamed "blue wheelie," with a more encompassing and inclusive symbol (or symbols) of accessibility.

"Let's turbo-charge blue wheelie into the 21st century," said Onley, who added a new symbol should let people know that "no matter your access needs you are welcome here."

Competition details

The competition is open from now until October 25. Winners will be announced on November 1 in the presence of Her Royal Highness, the Countess of Wessex, who will be visiting Ontario. The final designs will be presented to the International Standards Organization for consideration. 

A first prize of $5,000 will be awarded, along with two honourable mentions of $2,500 each.

View the contest introduction.

Use #AccessSign on Twitter to share and view designs

Follow LGDavidOnley and OCAD U on Facebook and Twitter for updates


Reimagining Accessibility design team finalists. Photo by Martin Iskandar.
Reimagining Accessibility finalist Daton Hadwen. Photo by Martin Iskandar.
Design concept by Taghreed Al-Zubaidi, Julie Buelow, Yijin Jiang and Arief Yulianto
Design concept by Dalton Hadwen.

The Honourable David C. Onley and Dr. Sara Diamond, OCAD U’s President, congratulated Dalton Hadwen and a design team of Taghreed Al-Zubaidi, Julie Buelow, Yijin Jiang and Arief Yulianto as the finalists in OCAD University’s Inclusive Design Research Centre’s (IDRC) major international student design challenge to reimagine the traditional symbol of access. Her Royal Highness, the Countess of Wessex attended the official announcement on November 1.

A blue chip panel of international jurors selected the two finalist concepts from over 100 designs in a blind judging process. Submissions came from across Canada and also from Argentina, China, Finland, France, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Mexico and the UK.

The goal of the Reimagining Accessibility Design Challenge was to create designs to replace the traditional wheelchair sign with a more encompassing and inclusive symbol (or symbols) of accessibility. During the judging process the jurors realized the complexity of the design task to communicate a multi-faceted and nuanced message. Although the panel did not select a winner from the submissions, the two finalists were singled out to merit Honourable Mention. The IDRC will work with the finalists over the winter and spring to refine their submissions.

The reworked designs will be featured at:

  • The International Design Enabling Economic Policies Conference at OCAD U in May, 2014.
  • A consultation on the symbol redesign hosted by Jutta Treviranus, the director of IDRC on behalf of the International Standards Organization in late May, 2014.
  • The International Summit of Accessibility at Carleton University in Ottawa in July, 2014.

Onley commended the work of everyone who entered the competition, describing their contributions as thoughtful, innovative and creative. He also praised the IDRC’s efforts and the success of the challenge overall.

Hon. Onley said he wanted to raise awareness of the fact that, counter-intuitively, the International Symbol of Access is exclusionary because the majority of disabilities are not visible. “Well, we certainly succeeded in raising awareness, if media coverage is any indication," he said. "There was a great deal of public debate and discussion, online and in the mainstream universe, certainly in the Twitterverse engaging people with and without disabilities.”

Dr. Diamond also praised the results of the challenge. “Together we have initiated a process that raised awareness among the broader public and those who participated in the competition itself,” she said. “We hope these design concepts will grow and reach their fullest potential.”

Learn more

Read more about the history of the International Symbol of Access 

OCAD U’s Inclusive Design Research Centre 

Hon. David C. Onley

International Standards Organization


OCADU President’s Speaker Series continues with talk by Jorge Frascara

Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - 5:00am

(Toronto — November 16, 2010) Dr. Sara Diamond, President of OCAD University (OCADU), welcomes educator, designer and author Jorge Frascara as the second keynote speaker in the 2010-2011 President’s Speaker Series on Wednesday, November 24 at 6:45 p.m.

Jorge Frascara is Professor Emeritus of the University of Alberta, Canada, Fellow of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada, and member of the Editorial Boards of the Information Design Journal and Design Issues. He has held leading positions at the University of Alberta, Icograda, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada, the Graphic Design Education Association (USA) and the Canadian Standards Council. He has published nine books and more than 50 articles internationally, and has lectured and made presentations around the world. He has consulted for organizations such as the Government of Canada, the Mission Possible Coalition (traffic safety), the Alberta Drug Utilization Program, and leading Canadian telecommunications companies. He now lives in Padova, Italy, and runs an information design consultancy with his wife Guillermina Noël.

In his talk “Design for need, and the need for design: Are we ready for this?” Frascara will explore the crucial role communication design plays in the social context. “Society today suffers from miscommunication and from lack of communication,” says Frascara. “Knowledge and wisdom are the privilege of the few, while hundreds of millions of people suffer abuse, disease, injuries, poverty, marginalization, addictions, and even death, because of lack of information and education. Challenges and choices require urgent action, and design schools have a central role to play. Is society ready for this? Are we, designers, ready for this?”

President’s Speaker Series presents
Jorge Frascara: “Design for need, and the need for design: Are we ready for this?”
Wednesday, November 24, 6:45 p.m.

OCAD University
Auditorium, 100 McCaul Street | 416-977-6000

All are welcome to attend, and admission is free.

About OCAD University (OCADU)
OCAD University ( is Canada’s “University of the Imagination.” The University, founded in 1876, is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. OCAD University is building on its traditional, studio-based strengths, adding new approaches to learning that champion cross-disciplinary practice, collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies. In the Age of Imagination, OCAD University community members will be uniquely qualified to act as catalysts for the next advances in culture, technology and quality of life for all Canadians.

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For more information and images, contact:

Sarah Mulholland, Media & Communications Officer
416.977.6000 Ext. 327 (mobile Ext. 1327)

New Exhibitions at Gallery 1313

 New Exhibitions at Gallery 1313
Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - 6:45pm

Thursday, August 22, 7-10 p.m.

A series of exhibitions featuring recent OCAD U graduates

Main Gallery & Process Gallery : REPOSITION

A group exhibition from the graduates of the graphic design program at OCADU

Artists / Designers:
Preethi Jagadeesh
Emily Soo
Susan Wang
Andrew Tsan
Robert Tu
Sayeda Akbary
Tim Bettridge
Jocelyn Cheung
Maggie Chan
Ayeshah Ijaz

REPOSITION is a curated collection of ten graphic design thesis projects from recent graduates of OCAD University. After participating in OCAD U’s successful 2013 Gradex, our group has decided to initiate another exhibition outside of the institution in order to reach out to new audiences.
As a group, we strive to create beyond graphic design’s limitations and challenge the status quo. Our projects are attempts at redefining and revolutionizing the discipline of graphic design in the eyes of the public and our own, through the marriage of critical theory and design experimentation. Each piece in this collection questions tacit social norms and recodes conventions of design through different media. The projects come together as an array of critical inquiries into both personal and public experiences. Together, the exhibition is an assemblage of poignant investigations into differing aspects of our society through design.

Cell Gallery: CANVAS TAR PAPER & CEDAR an exploration of meaningful materials by Jo Anne Maikawa

Window Box Gallery: SOMEHOW CONNECTED Installation by Shannon Lea Doyle
Conceptual material processes allow Shannon Lea Doyle to create sculptures that express her interest in physical and psychological connections between people. Her work is often motivated by images found in news media that are then merged with images from her personal life during the process of creation.
Doyle’s work is concerned with suspensions of truth between the multiplicities of time and space. Somehow Connected has strong ties to contemporary narratives of disaster as well as August Strindberg’s A Dream Play. For Doyle, the process of beading with black is simultaneously an attempt at erasure and a meditative process of embellishment. The beads in Somehow Connected form shadows of figures that seem to be ascending or descending.

Shannon Lea Doyle is an artist from Toronto working in sculpture and performance. She holds a BFA from OCAD University and won the Sculpture and Installation Medal in 2013. Shannon is a member of Soulpepper Theatre Company’s Academy where she works as a designer.

Window Box Exhibit curated by Tara Bursey.

Gallery Hours Wed - Sun 1-6 p.m.





Venue & Address: 
Gallery 1313 1313 Queen St. West Toronto, Ontario