IDRC director featured in film at London Fashion Week

Photo of Jutta Treviranus, Director IDRC
Thursday, October 1, 2015 - 5:00pm

Jutta Treviranus, director of OCAD University’s Inclusive Design Research Centre is prominently featured in a new film produced by Microsoft Design. The 20-minute short is entitled Inclusive.

“Can design be both universal and personal? Inclusive is a short film that explores this question with some of the industry's foremost thought leaders. When interactions with technology are pervasive, designers face new challenges and opportunities in addressing the true breadth of human diversity.”

View the film online.


Project AEGIS (Ontario) advances digital inclusion for diverse users

Woman using Tecla Access and a sip-and-puff switch
Fluid Infusion lets the user set their own preferences, such as line spacing and colour contrast.
Friday, July 24, 2015 - 8:00pm

Project AEGIS (Ontario) – led by OCAD University’s Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) – is wrapping up after six years of work. Since 2008, the interdisciplinary team sought to answer the needs of people who face challenges when using conventional information and communication technologies (ICTs).

“Our work was based on the recognition that, because people are not standardized, we need affordable alternatives to mass-produced products that are a better fit for human diversity,” says Jutta Treviranus, the IDRC director and Project AEGIS (Ontario)’s principal investigator.

Project AEGIS (Ontario) focused on two communities: developers of ICT infrastructure, applications and services; and end users who experience physical, sensory or cognitive disabilities that pose barriers to conventional ICT access. Researchers developed a wide array of innovative solutions to address these design gaps, including

  • websites that automatically respond to users’ preferences (Fluid Infusion),
  • a system that lets people with spinal cord injuries independently operate their smartphones and tablets (Tecla Access), and
  • a tool that lets researchers remotely measure the usability and accessibility of mobile applications in real world use (OpenVULab).

OCAD U’s IDRC led Project AEGIS (Ontario) in partnership with York University, Ryerson University, the University of Toronto, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and 21 other academic and corporate partners in Canada and Europe. Project AEGIS (Ontario) was a partner of Project AEGIS (Europe), and funding for the Ontario initiative was provided by the Ontario Research Fund – Research Excellence Program.

IDRC among partners to receive Gates Foundation funding

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - 4:00am

OCAD University’s Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) has partnered with Lumen Learning in a project to develop the next generation of digital, personalized courseware that improves outcomes for low-income postsecondary students. Today, Lumen Learning was named among seven finalists to receive $20 million in funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Next Generation Courseware Challenge aims to leverage the best of what is known about the learning sciences, education research, and technology-enabled learning to create a next generation of digital courseware that can help postsecondary institutions and their faculty positively impact the trajectory of each student’s higher education experience.

Inspired in part by the ground-breaking work of Benjamin Bloom, Lumen’s courseware will apply educational strategies that show promise for improving learning outcomes: personal learning pathways for developing subject mastery; personalized teaching; and effective use of open educational resources. The result will be “next generation” courseware for four introductory-level college courses that enroll millions of students every year: Introduction to Business; Principles of Marketing; Microeconomics; and Macroeconomics. The IDRC will design the courseware’s universally accessible user experience through a highly iterative, inclusive and learner-centric process.

Among the IDRC, the other Lumen project partners are:

  • BBC Worldwide Learning: Lumen’s courseware will incorporate high quality educational videos that draw from BBC Worldwide Learning’s extensive library of engaging, informative and global subject matter.
  • Dr. Constance Steinkuehler: One of the world’s leading experts in game-based learning, Dr. Steinkuehler will guide the development of lightweight games and simulations for a hands-on, interactive learning experience.
  • Difference Engine: Difference Engine is tailoring its learner-centric platform to the unique requirements of mastery learning and open content, creating a personalized learning platform to adapt content to students’ needs as they master course competencies.
  • Norman Bier: Drawing on his work with Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Learning Initiative and forging connections with the Simon Datalab, Mr. Bier will establish a Learning Lab tasked with harnessing data to generate learning science insights and drive continuous courseware improvements.
  • The Online Learning Consortium (OLC), formerly Sloan Consortium: Faculty training and professional development for the courseware will be developed and delivered in conjunction with OLC, a leader in best practices for technology-assisted teaching and learning.
  • OpenStax College: Core content and subject matter expertise will come from OpenStax College’s high quality, peer-reviewed, open textbooks which allow tremendous flexibility to adapt, remix and repurpose content to fit the project’s progressive course design.

Collaborating with the Lumen courseware project as co-development partners are eight educational institutions including two-year colleges and four-year universities from across the U.S.: Broward College Online (FL), Cerritos College (CA), Pittsburg State University (KS), Salt Lake Community College (UT), Santa Ana College (CA), Tidewater Community College (VA), University of Maryland University College (UMUC), and the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC). Together these institutions serve more than 300,000 students annually. On average among these institutions, nearly half of all students are considered low income and/or disadvantaged.

With project kick-off taking place later this year, Lumen Learning anticipates developing the new courseware through the first half of 2015. The first wave of participating faculty members will teach with the pilot courseware during the 2015-2016 academic year. Informed and improved by learning data from the pilot year, Lumen anticipates general availability for the new courseware in 2016. Targeting courseware affordability as a major requirement for winning the grant, the company plans to provide platform hosting, ongoing courseware support and updates for approximately a quarter of the average cost of traditional commercial textbooks.


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


OCAD University welcomes the Inclusive Design Research Centre and the Inclusive Design Institute

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 - 4:00am

(Toronto — October 12, 2010) OCAD University (OCADU) is pleased to welcome the Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) and the Inclusive Design Institute (IDI) to its campus. With world-renowned inclusive design expert Jutta Treviranus leading the two entities, OCAD University greatly strengthens its leadership in the fields of accessibility and inclusive design of information and communication systems and practices.

“Like sustainability, inclusive design is an essential cross-cutting perspective on design that will help propel OCADU as an international leader in innovation for our ever more diverse society,” said Dr. Sara Diamond, President of OCAD University. “Jutta and her world-class team of researchers bring a wealth of expertise, experience and networks that ideally complement OCADU’s agenda.”

The IDRC is the reconstitution of the 16 year-old Adaptive Technology Resource Centre (ATRC) of the University of Toronto at OCADU. The IDRC, continuing the important international role of the ATRC, conducts multi-disciplinary, multi-sector research and development on the inclusive design of emerging information and communication systems and practices — or designing for diversity. IDRC research addresses the full lifecycle of information and communication systems and practices — from design to implementation to evaluation and policy. The IDRC research community values collaboration, broad participation, transparency, and openness. The Inclusive Design Institute is a regional research hub, led by Jutta Treviranus, funded by both the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation with 8 postsecondary institutions as core partners, namely OCADU, University of Toronto, Ryerson University, York University, University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), Sheridan, George Brown College and Seneca College. The IDI shares the research focus of the IDRC. Both IDI and IDRC research projects engage a range of collaborating organizations from around the world.

“Accessibility and inclusion are not only rights to be protected, but catalysts for new ideas, design principles that lead to better design, business strategies that make good business sense, and economic drivers with ubiquitous social benefits,” said Treviranus. “OCADU has the agility, imagination and creativity we need to realize the promise of inclusive design.”

Recognizing the need for human capacity to meet the accessible design requirements in Ontario brought about by the imminent release of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Information and Communication standard, and the growing demand globally for accessible products and services, the move includes the development of an academic program in inclusive design at the undergraduate, graduate and professional development levels, complementing OCADU’s Digital Futures Initiative.

Treviranus and her team bring with them over 15 multi-partner research projects in the educational, cultural, health, economic, policy and international development domain. All projects are open source and open access, thereby enabling active student engagement.

About Jutta Treviranus
Jutta Treviranus has over 25 years of experience in the field of accessibility. She established the ATRC in 1993, leading it to its global stature. Treviranus has led many international multi-partner research networks that have created broadly implemented technical innovations that support inclusion. Recent projects include the Fluid Project (, Fluid Engage, CulturAll, Stretch, FLOE and many others. Treviranus and her team have pioneered personalization as an approach to accessibility in the digital domain. Her team also leads several successful ongoing open source projects that attempt to infuse inclusive user experience design sensibilities into open source networks. She has played a leading role in developing accessibility legislation, standards, specifications and policies internationally, including WAI ATAG, IMS AccessForAll, ISO 24751, and the AODA Information and Communication standard.

About IDRC/IDI projects:

FLOE (Flexible Learning for Open Education) (, funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, is creating a global infrastructure to address the learning needs of learners, including learners with disabilities, by matching each learner's individual accessibility needs and preferences with a learning resource that meets those needs. FLOE has many partners around the world and will also address accessible mobile learning delivery in Africa, Latin America and India.

The Fluid Project ( creates web application building blocks that infuse accessibility and inclusive user experience design into the software ecosystem. Fluid components are part of the software toolkits broadly used to create interactive Web programs, thereby ensuring they are accessible to users with disabilities.

The Accessible Digital Office Document project, supported by UNESCO and the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services, is developing international guidelines for creating accessible office documents including spreadsheets and presentations.

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, contact:

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

Accessibility Clinic

Accessibility Clinic
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 4:00am to Saturday, May 31, 2014 - 4:00am

Brought to you by the Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) and the Inclusive Design Institute (IDI)

We take website accessibility seriously and so
should all website developers. If you are not sure your website passes at least the minimum
standards of accessibility required by the AODA, the Inclusive Design Research Centre now offers a free weekly clinic to help you check on the condition of your website.

A healthy website is an inclusive website! Make sure:
✓ Information is well structured and easily navigable
✓ Dynamic content is simple to understand and control
✓ Media is captioned and described
✓ Layout is adaptable and responsive
✓ Site complies with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0

The web accessibility professionals are in on Tuesday afternoons for free consultations. We can examine your website to:
➡ Check for any accessibility problems
➡ Test your site with assistive technology
➡ Prescribe a remedy for existing accessibility issues
➡ Consult on next steps for achieving full accessibility compliance



Venue & Address: 
Inclusive Design Research Centre 49 McCaul St. Toronto, Ontario