Making Events Inclusive Workshop

Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - 9:00pm to 10:30pm

Understand the issues, learn the strategies, connect with resources.

Venue & Address: 
University of Toronto, Hart House, North Dining Room 7 Hart House Circle, Toronto, Ontario
Free (Please Register)

Students exhibit accessible objects at Centre for Aging and Brain Health

Four women seated at a table exhibiting products
Wednesday, June 29, 2016 - 4:00am

OCAD University Industrial Design students from the third-year Design for Health and Wellness course took part in the opening of LaunchPad Studio at Baycrest Health Sciences on June 21.

Their exhibit, Accessible objects for people living with arthritis, featured items ranging from a toothbrush to a tea service, each designed to help people who have arthritis-related dexterity issues engage more fully and comfortably with the activities of daily life.

Projects on display:

  • Compression toothbrush – Melody Gamble
  • Cradle tea service – Paolo Aguila
  • Demi Pain Management – Zoe Worsnip
  • Crystal Package Opener – Quishan Tan
  • Flot : Adaptive paintbrush – Longchunzi (Elaine) Yu
  • Bagg – Houston Keil-Vine

OCAD U’s Design for Health and Wellness course explores interaction design through user expectation and behaviour, and its applications to product, information and interface design.

Students created their accessible objects as part of a course project focussing on individual customization using 3D design and printing.

Part of the Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation at Baycrest Health Sciences, LaunchPad is an innovation hub space where inventors and design thinkers can work with researchers and clinicians while interacting with aging adults.




2 Industrial Design Teams make it to jurying at IDeA Competition

Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - 11:00am

The Council of Ontario Universities, in partnership with the Government of Ontario, is pleased to present the fourth annual Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA) student competition. OCAD U had 3 teams enter the competition and two teams have made it to the jurying process:

Universal Lightbulb Socket - Philippe Page

Google Speech: Reducing Public Speaking Anxiety Through Virtual Reality -   Team: Kristen Thomson, Adam Badzynski, Eitan Markus

Winners of the competition will be announced Tuesday, May 10, 2016 at the OCE Discovery Conference ‘16.

Inclusive Design Institute helps UBER develop accessible transport

Friday, January 8, 2016 - 8:45pm

In fall 2015, Jutta Treviranus, director of OCAD University’s Inclusive Design Institute (IDI), moderated consultations between UBER and its stakeholders to develop improved transportation services to people with disabilities. uberWAV, launched this week, provides accessible vehicles at no extra cost to UBER users.  

“Torontonians with disabilities experience many transportation service gaps,” said Treviranus. “Equitable transportation is essential to participating fully in our community.”

In addition to stakeholder meetings aimed at developing community-identified design criteria, the IDI organized a Hackathon at the IIDEX conference to address design challenges presented by UBER and hosted UBER’s general manager, Ian Black, as a speaker at the annual DEEP conference.


A11yTO Accessibility Camp

Saturday, October 17, 2015 - 4:00am

Focusing on users with different disabilities, sessions cover digital accessibility topics from the web (technical to tactical), desktop software, mobile apps, eLearning, online gaming, open source innovations, wearables and everything in between.

Venue & Address: 
OCAD University, 100 McCaul St, Room 190 (Auditorium)
$5 suggested donation at the door.

Accessibility Innovation Showcase 2015 - Hackathon

Image of robot hands
Saturday, August 8, 2015 - 1:00pm to Monday, August 10, 2015 - 10:00pm

OCAD University participates in the Accessibility Innovation Showcase which profiles innovative accessible technology and assistive device companies. Motivational speakers, artists and athletes will share their experiences and demonstrate how technological advancements can improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Coinciding with the 2015 Parapan American Games and in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, this high profile event brings together top innovators, investors, local and international dignitaries, government and the public.


Teams of programmers will use rapid-prototyping to solve an accessibility-related challenge in just 48 hours. The winning team will receive $5,000. See the results, including 3D printed models, and learn who wins on August 9.

Tech pitch competition

Companies will compete to win $20,000 from the Ontario Centres of Excellence to help them develop their accessibility technology and business. Watch the semi-finalists pitch their ideas to a group of investors on August 9. The winner will be announced on August 10.

Inspiring speakers and entertainers

Discover how technology developed to help people with disabilities — like touch screens and gesture control — is changing the world for everyone. Learn how para-athletes train and see what it takes to become a world champion. Be inspired by talented singers and musicians.

Exhibitor showcase

See more than 50 innovative companies and their newest developments including exoskeletons and wearables, specialized apps, smart-watches and sensors, personalized robotics, and treatments and therapies delivered by smartphone. Visit the Kids Zone, Sport Zone and Start-Up Alley to enjoy live technology demonstrations and interactive exhibits.

Venue & Address: 
MaRS Discovery District (map) 101 College Street (at University) Dates:  August 7, 1 p.m. Hackathon Competition Launch August 8 and 9 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. August 10 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Free Admission

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.

Research Rendezvous

Image of an eye, an ear and a hand
Image of a graph
Image of a graph
Image of data
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How are you OCAD U?
Image of a filing cabinet
Image of graphs
Monday, May 11, 2015 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm

The Office of Research Services will be hosting a Research Rendezvous with research presentations by the following two faculty members:

Peter Coppin, Faculty of Design
"What is Lost in Translation from Visual Graphics to Text for Accessibility (with implications for the picture perception debate and the graphic-linguistic distinction)"

Pam Patterson, Faculty of Art, with OCAD U Art & Design Education student Meaghan Barry
"How Are U OCAD U?"

Please join us for this one-hour session and feel free to bring your lunch!

Dr. Peter Coppin is an Assistant Professor of Design at OCAD University. He is a core Program Faculty member in the Master of Design (MDes) in Inclusive Design program. During his PhD, Peter developed a perceptual-cognitive model for understanding how graphics afford actions, a theme that cuts across inclusive design, human-computer interface design, visual art-design, and learning technology research. Prior to this, Peter developed ‘remote experience’ systems that delivered data from remote rovers operating in extreme environments to science teams and the general public as Principal Investigator and Director of the NASA funded EventScope Project at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). At CMU Peter also directed the BigSignal Project, one of the first telescience interfaces for educational audiences. Prior to BigSignal, Peter was a nationally and internationally exhibiting electronic media artist and designer, operating under the group alias ‘Centre for Metahuman Exploration.’ He developed telerobotic works and interactive television shows that were exhibited in venues such as the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria; MIR: Art in Space in Bolzono, Italy; and the SIGGRAPH Touchware Exhibition in Orlando, Florida. Peter also directed projects for EventScope’s commercial spin-off, resulting in patented technologies to solve problems for various NASA and university customers. Peter taught human centered art and technology project classes such as ‘Telepresence Art and Applications,’ within multiple departments at Carnegie Mellon.

"What is Lost in Translation from Visual Graphics to Text for Accessibility (with implications for the picture perception debate and the graphic-linguistic distinction)"
In this presentation, Peter will describe the progress toward translating ‘visual’ graphics into non-visual perceptual modes such as sound to produce more accessible interfaces. Additionally, he will demonstrate how our design is guided by a provisional model that treats the visual cortex as a spatial cortex that is recruited by sight, sound and touch (cf. Knauff, 2013). The problem: According to WCAG guidelines, a ‘visual’ graphic (i.e., a picture) is considered ‘accessible’ (e.g., to low-vision and/or blind users) if it has been ‘translated’ into a text description (Caldwell, et al., 2008). However, if an author’s intention could be conveyed via text, then why did they create a (visual) graphic? One often cited advantage is that “the eye and the visual cortex of the brain form a massively parallel processor that provides the highest-bandwidth channel into human cognitive centers” (Ware, 2012). In contrast, a screen reader sequentially reads through text descriptions. However, are these advantages only possible though visuals? Sonic interfaces are routinely used for sense making: Doppler ultrasound conveys anatomical structures via audible frequencies and researchers have converted video signals into sound to enable blind audiences to navigate outdoors and to recognize faces (e.g., Levy-Tzedek et al., 2012). Spatial structure seems to transcend the visual: It can be conveyed via sound (e.g., when we hear an echo) or touch. In addition to demonstrating how this provisional model can guide interface design, Peter will also propose how it relates to, and in some cases can help reconcile, classic debates about the ‘unlearned’ (e.g., Gibson, 1978; Kennedy, 1974) versus ‘learned’ (e.g., Goodman, 1976) properties of picture perception between art theory and perceptual psychology and the related graphic-linguistic distinction (Shimojima, 1999).

Dr. Pam Patterson has been active for over 30 years in the arts, academic and women’s communities. Her performances, research, teaching, and curatorial projects focus on embodiment and performativity in art practice, women’s, gender and disability issues, critical pedagogy and art(s) education. She founded an arts-informed feminist research, presentation, and publication program, WIAprojects ( at the Centre for Women's Studies in Education at OISE/ University of Toronto in 2004 and has been Director of the program since. As a performance and visual artist, she was a founding member of FADO Performance and ARTIFACTS and continues to exhibit and perform internationally. She currently teaches in the Faculty of Art at the Ontario College of Art & Design University. At OCAD U, she has facilitated a number of cross-disciplinary, cross-institutional projects including Food=Need OCAD U. ARTISTS TEACHING ARTISTS, and this recent HOW ARE U OCAD U? As Director, Research for the Canadian Society for Education through Art (CSEA) she is currently co-facilitating national research initiatives groups with CSEA President, Peter Vietgen (Brock University).

"How Are U OCAD U?"
Art and Design Education Lab - Community Leadership mounted a campaign fall 2014 term inviting the OCAD U community to assist them in re-imagining OCAD U for the 21st C. This action was an outgrowth of our deep curiosity about our own complicity in teaching and learning at OCAD U. We wanted to open the Pandora’s Box and excavate the messiness. We all know that we need to dig deep and take risks in studio practice in order to push our work to stronger and richer iterations. But, how can we as educators do the same? How can we define OCAD U as a community: Is it a place of/for community gathering(s)? What is its ethical grounding? What is its reason for being? How can we determine what learning means at OCAD? While our posters are presented as tongue-and-cheek, the data they were derived from was diverse, compelling, and often contradictory. Videos, which accompany this exhibition, provide a more storied response from OCAD U community members. Our devised terms for examination for the survey and Learning Zone (LZ) display are below. Demographics from LZ are also listed. Special thanks to the OCADSU for additional data from their own survey.
Six Terms for Examination:

1. How have you achieved a sense of community at OCAD U?
2. How has your learning experience been? How can it better prepare you for the working world?
3. What teaching methods are you looking for? What teaching methods are actually working for you?
4. How have OCAD U community initiatives improved your experience?
5. How does your experience match your expectations?
6. What have you achieved as a student or faculty or staff at OCAD U?
Survey monkey site:

Venue & Address: 
Lambert Lounge (Room 187, 100 McCaul)

IDeA Competition - Guest Speaker

Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 7:00pm

Guest Speaker - Andrew Seo, IDeA Competition

IDeA Competition

A brief presentation about the IDeA Competition which is open to students of all undergraduate disciplines - and means to address a variety of barriers to 'accessibility' (e.g. physical, information/communications, organizational). Typically, students in design courses or those already working on projects are well-placed to submit.

Venue & Address: 
Central Hall, 100 McCaul St. Toronto, Ontario


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