OCAD University receives federal funding to support accessibility

l-r: Dr. Treviranus, Colin Clark, Associate Director, IDRC and Minister Qualtrough. Photo: Martin Iskander.
Wednesday, May 29, 2019 - 10:45am

Today at OCAD University, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, announced several initiatives to support youth leaders in their efforts to build a more accessible Canada. At the event, Minister Qualtrough announced that OCAD U’s Inclusive Research Design Centre (IDRC) will receive $1.7 million in funding from the Accessible Technology Program. This announcement, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, will support the Coding to Learn and Create project. Coding to Learn and Create will develop new inclusive educational coding tools that will support the participation of students with complex learning needs, and will share critically-needed teaching resources and strategies to help educators teach more inclusively. The program is led by OCAD U’s IDRC, in partnership with Bridges Canada.

As a university that values accessibility, cultural diversity and equitable global citizenship, OCAD U is proud to support the IDRC, under the direction of Dr. Jutta Treviranus. The largest centre of its kind in the world, the centre’s goal is to make sure that everyone can participate in shaping and using the systems and networks that are transforming and connecting our society.

Heather Robson, Acting Director, Research Services, Colin Clark, Associate Director, IDRC, Dr. Treviranus, Minister Qualtrough,

OCAD U Prof named to prestigious Digital Fellowship

Thursday, November 7, 2019 - 4:45pm

The Canada School of Public Service has announced its new Digital Fellows -- among them Dr. Jutta Treviranus, Professor, Faculty of Design, OCAD University and Director and Founder of the Inclusive Design Research Centre.

The Canada School of Public Service's Digital Fellowship aims to bring together a multi-disciplinary community of leaders to help develop and steer the Digital Academy's learning programs. This will help ensure the academy's work meets the government's needs, and showcases the Government of Canada's most forward-looking projects and organizations.

Digital Fellows and the academy’s learners will be at the forefront of the public service’s adaptation to continuous disruption; in how we understand citizens’ needs and meet their rising expectations for service and engagement.


IDRC's Project We Count receives grant

Monday, September 9, 2019 - 1:45pm

The Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) at OCAD University has received a $2.9 M grant from the Government of Canada, through the Accessible Technology Program for Project We Count. The project will address barriers to participation and employment for persons with disabilities in the rapidly growing data economy. At the same time, the project will tackle bias and exclusion of persons with disabilities in data systems and ensure that these systems (including artificial intelligence, smart technologies, data-driven decision making and data analytics) recognize, understand and serve people with disabilities by creating innovative machine learning strategies and addressing data gaps. 

Project We Count will increase knowledge, establish skills, develop inclusive data tools and create a forum whereby the Canadian disability community can help shape the rapidly evolving data economy in more inclusive directions.

OCAD U’s IDRC receives grant to promote equitable inclusion in education

Storytelling Co-design Workshop with ESL high school students - Spring 2019
Wednesday, August 7, 2019 - 2:30pm

The Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) at OCAD University has received a $1.2 million grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in open education. The grant will support the IDRC’s Flexible Learning for Open Education (FLOE) project, which pushes the understanding and practice of equitable inclusion within open teaching and learning by providing resources to personalize how students learn and to address barriers to learning. The FLOE project will coordinate inclusive workshops to address challenges; capture and share insights and processes; and build capacity and support within the larger open education community to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Led by its founder, Dr. Jutta Treviranus, Professor, Faculty of Design, the IDRC is a research and development centre at OCAD U, where an international community of open source developers, designers, researchers, advocates and volunteers work together to ensure that emerging information technology and practices are designed inclusively.

Web of Strings activity in Storytelling Co-design Workshops - Spring 2019

Pat Murray Retires from the IDRC

Image of Pat Murray
Wednesday, June 19, 2019 - 5:15pm

Since 2001, Pat Murray has been the Inclusive Design Research Centre’s (IDRC) administrative assistant for both our SNOW project and our Vision Technology Assistive Devices Program services. More importantly, she has been the face of the IDRC to much of OCADU and many of our visitors.


In addition to what is official and documented, Pat has provided a large set of invaluable knowledge and skills. These are the undocumented assets not recognized in any degree, not offered in any course, or included in any job description.  Institutions are complex places with unwritten and unspoken rules, procedures, policies and etiquettes; and government programs such as the ADP can be densely confusing things. People have official and implicit roles and responsibilities. Pat is the keeper of this knowledge in the IDRC. Our move to OCADU involved the merger of two cultures. Pat took on the role of bridge and diplomat for all the fundamental functions that make a place run. She has acted as our translator of processes and navigator of institutional complexity. She is our “logistics queen.”


Pat accomplished things like feeding a crowd on a budget that would cover less than a handful; planning in a few weeks an event that should take years; arranging impossible to book accessibility services at a moment’s notice; and single-handedly managing logistics that would generally take an entire team.


Pat’s retirement will leave a huge gap in our team and in our community. Pat knows that once you are a member of our community, you are always a valued member. We wish her well in her retirement and hope to see her often in many years to come.

ELIA Life Technology talk at the IDRC

Two hands with finger tips running along red symbols printed onto a page.
Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - 2:30pm

Join this presentation as part of the weekly community meetings hosted by the IDRC.

Location: Room 220, 205 Richmond St. West
Remote attendance can be accessed via this link.

ELIA Life Technology (ELT) is a public benefit corporation that develops assistive technology for people who have a visual impairment. The company’s flagship product is the ELIA Frames™ font: an intuitive tactile font for people who are previously sighted. Designed with independence in mind, the ELIA Frames™ font has been developed with funding from the National Institutes of Health. Are you interested in learning more about ELIA and talking with the team? Sign up to participate in the web workshop.

ELIA Frames™ were formally introduced to the world with a successful Kickstarter Campaign and debuted at the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt Design Museum. The company is a member of the NEW INC. cultural incubator, affiliated with the New Museum.

Andrew Chepaitis is the president and CEO. Byron Johnson is the Research and Operations Manager. ELT is based in Brooklyn, NY.

Website: www.theeliaidea.com

Venue & Address: 
Room 220, 205 Richmond St. W.
416-977-6000 x. 423

Inclusive Design Research Centre Celebrates 25th Anniversary

The Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) is celebrating 25 years of advocacy, change, collaboration, community, creativity, education, exploration, inclusion, innovation, progress, sharing, and teamwork. For two and a half decades an international community of people have come together to tackle some of the hardest problems we face: creating an accessible Web and world, pushing the boundaries of inclusive practices, transforming education, disrupting existing economies, power dynamics, and biases. Over the years, there have been hundreds of projects and partners. The team has changed and the thinking has evolved, but the focus has been the same — create practices, tools and techniques for those not being heard.

On Saturday, October 13 the IDRC will be celebrating its 25th Anniversary at 49 McCaul St. The event will include presentations, performances, hands-on demos and CAKE. Be part of the future of change!

BIG IDeA partners with Entertainment District BIA to enhance accessibility for customers

Toronto Entertainment District BIA logo
BIG IDeA logo
Monday, June 18, 2018

OCAD University’s Inclusive Design Research Centre is pleased to announce a new partnership between BIG IDeA, OCAD University’s business accessibility innovation project, and The Toronto Entertainment District BIA. The partnership features the implementation of the BIG IDeA platform, Ontario’s first end-to-end platform on accessibility for businesses and their customers, allowing businesses to offer an inclusive customer experience. 

The BIG IDeA platform provides a space for businesses to set up a customer feedback account, learn about accessibility solutionsfrom similar businesses, getresources and training on providing an inclusive customer experience, and be promotedon Accessibility Cloud and in the BIG IDeA Showcase. Businesses can also earn badges for accessibility achievementsto display on their premises and websites. 

Everyone is included in BIG IDeA’s process for accessibility innovation. OCAD U’s Inclusive Design Research Centre leads a consortium that is developing and implementing the BIG IDeA platform. Anyone can submit an accessibility challenge and participate in inclusive design challenge events, where solutions are created by a diverse mix of customers, designers and business owners. 

As the John Street Cultural Corridor undergoes improvements, BIG IDeA will work with local businesses to help them upgrade their accessibility-readiness. BIG IDeA teams will be visiting the area in June and July, and organizing a special John Street Inclusive Design Challenge to help keep John Street accessible, both while construction is underway, and afterwards. 

Businesses and customers can register on BIG IDeA’s website to prepare for these challenges together. Visit www.bigidea.one to participate. 

About OCAD University
OCAD University (www.ocadu.ca) is Canada’s university of the imagination. Founded in 1876, the university is dedicated to art, design and digital media education, practice and research, and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. 

About the Toronto Entertainment District BIA
Established in 2008, in support of the businesses of this area, the Toronto Entertainment District BIA’s (http://torontoed.com/) mandate is to promote, improve and preserve this dynamic area of Toronto. Benefitting from economic, environmental and social factors driving downtown growth, the Entertainment District has established itself as a thriving and vibrant district for living, creating, working and entertainment.

About the Inclusive Design Research Centre
The Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) (https://idrc.ocadu.ca/) is a research and development centre at OCAD University where an international community of open source developers, designers, researchers, advocates, and volunteers work together to ensure that emerging information technology and practices are designed inclusively.

Initiative co-led by IDRC and The New School receives $1M Google grant

Platform Co-op Funding Graphic
Platform Co-op team at work
Platform Co-op staff at work
Friday, June 1, 2018

OCAD University’s Inclusive Design Research Center (IDRC) and New York’s The New School's Platform Cooperativism Consortium (PCC) have received a Google.org grant of $1,000,000 for their joint project supporting platform co-ops.  

The grant supports the economic development of cooperatives in the digital economy. It focuses specifically on creating a critical analysis of the digital economy and designing open source tools that will support platform co-ops working in sectors such as child care, elder care, home services, and recycling​ in the United States, Brazil, Australia, Germany, and India. Platform co-ops are web and app supported organizations that are owned and democratically governed by workers and/or users. The initiative is jointly led by PCC founder Trebor Scholz at The New School with Jutta Treviranus, who leads OCAD U’s IDRC. 

The partnership is centered around developing the Platform Co-op Development Kit, a platform to help interested people start platform co-ops. The Kit will include a map of the ecosystem, a resource library about platform co-operativism, as well as tools that can ease the legal process for these startups, help democratic decision-making, and a customizable labor platform. By making these tools freely available and open source, The Platform Cooperative Consortium aims to lower the barriers to entry for co-ops.

“Platform co-ops offer a powerful way to counter economic exclusion and corrosive disparity — a global challenge the Inclusive Design Research Centre has been tackling for 25 years,” said Dr. Treviranus. “This inspired partnership between the Platform Cooperative Consortium at The New School and the IDRC at OCAD U will empower individuals and groups that are currently economically marginalized to co-design a more inclusively prosperous future.”

“This grant is a big win for the cooperative movement and for platform co-op pioneers all over the world," said Scholz. "This kit will make it easier to start and run platform co-ops. It will also provide an interactive map of the co-op ecosystem and essential community-edited resources.”

“Google.org has provided funding to develop the kit, which will combine the research of the PCC and the practical knowledge of the thriving platform co-op community with the inclusive design and development strengths of the IDRC,” explained Scholz. “But to build out this critically important and timely project into further territories and sectors, additional funding will be needed.”

The grant will also allow the PCC to engage other leading organizations committed to creating jobs with fair pay and good working conditions for diverse populations working in the digital economy. By applying the cooperative model to digital labor, the Platform Co-op Development Kit offers a compelling alternative to the otherwise extractive and on-demand digital economy.


OCAD U professor talks to CBC about AI and accessibility

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Director of the Inclusive Design Research Centre, Jutta Treviranus, is featured on the latest edition of Spark, CBC Radio’s program on technology in our rapidly changing world. Titled “AI's problem with disability and diversity,” the episode looks at how machine learning doesn’t take into account people who don’t fit into the “norm.” Treviranus’s work focuses on creating more inclusive and accessible technology, and how we can improve artificial intelligence systems so they can better serve everyone, including people with disabilities.

You can listen to the episode on CBC Radio One on Sunday Sept. 10 at 1:05 p.m. and Wednesday Sept. 13 at 2:05 p.m., or listen online