Actor Elizabeth Morris on Inclusive Design for Theatre and Film

Image of actor, Elizabeth Morris
Thursday, November 1, 2018

Actor Elizabeth Morris’s latest role is in Jean Giraudoux’s satirical play The Madwoman of Chaillot at the Stratford Festival. Like any performer, she works hard to captivate audiences through strong acting and stage presence. Her work is expressed primarily, however, in American Sign Language (ASL).  

Morris’s substantial resume of theatre and film production credits includes a wide range of ASL storytelling, visual work, miming and stand-up comedy: “Sometimes I have ASL interpreters on hand to voiceover for me, for hearing members to hear, but my body language and facial expressions are very clear and big, so non-signers can pick up some of my signs,” she says. 

Morris also works as an ASL coach, an accessibility consultant, and an inclusive designer for theatres and films. She is a member of ACTRA and CAEA union.  She decided to attend OCAD U’s Inclusive Design program to research ways to make live theatres more accessible and inclusive for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and for their families.  

“I believe that if you want a change to happen, you have to be the person to change it,” says Morris of her research. In becoming an inclusive designer through the program, she hopes to reduce gaps in accessibility and forge new solutions specifically suited to theatre and film: “This research will always be evolving. I plan to open minds and help theatre companies be more willing to try new things.”  

Through interviewing Deaf actors and directors as part of her investigative process, Morris discovered different perspectives on accessibility issues: “Each individual is different,” she says. “The research is not only biased based on my own experiences, it’s inclusive of Deaf and Hard of Hearing who may have different levels of hearing loss.” She says that the program also made her more aware of accessibility issues for the blind.  

In film and theatre environments Morris works with ASL interpreters so that rehearsals and shows are accessible both to her and everyone else she’s collaborating with. Within the Inclusive Design program, OCAD U provided an ASL interpreters and a note taker for the same purpose, and much of the program is delivered through an online technology and learning system. Prior to attending OCAD U she completed her BA in Elementary Education and Educational Drama at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., which remains unique as the only liberal arts university for the Deaf in the world.  

Find out more: 

Diverging from The [Main] Stream and Multi-Sensory Exhibit

Friday, July 13, 2018 - 12:00pm to Sunday, July 15, 2018 - 2:00pm

The second year Inclusive Design graduate students  invite you to our Summer Intensive exposition - Diverging from The [Main] Stream. Students from the Inclusive Design program will be exhibiting their current work and research in the Ada Slaight student galleries located at 100 McCaul St. from noon until 7:30 pm on Friday July 13. The students are looking forward to receiving feedback on their research. Please see poster with more information. All are welcome.

Multi-Sensory Exposition

In association with the Third Conference of the International Association for Cognitive Semiotics (IACS3—2018) please join us at the Multi-Sensory Exposition taking place in the Ada Slaight Gallery this weekend. Kicking off Friday July 13, join us for our opening reception from 2:35 pm until 3:20 pm. On Saturday July 14 and Sunday July 15 the gallery will be open from 10 am until 2 pm. All are welcome.

Venue & Address: 
Ada Slaight Gallery OCAD University 100 McCaul St. 2nd floor
Poster for exhibition

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 to participate. 

About OCAD University
OCAD University ( 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 ( 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) ( 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.

Graduate Programs Info Nights and Online Webinars

Join a Graduate Program Info Night and/or online webinar this November. They are your opportunity to meet instructors, students and alumni from the program to help you learn more about courses, the learning environment and degree outcomes.

sBook: Futures of the Book

The goals of the sBook project are to develop a unifying information architectural framework for readers, writers and publishers that ties together emerging standards; and to invent new forms of functionality and interoperability to achieve our design vision. The name “sBook” refers to the qualities of the intended experience:

  • Simple: the pleasure and beauty of human readable pages
  • Social: developing context and community through social media tools
  • Searchable: the power and practicality of electronic text
  • Smart: intelligent recommendations both within and beyond the work
  • Sustainable: effective use of material and energy throughout the lifecycle
  • Synchronized: can be updated by author and publisher
  • Scalable: open platform supporting new products, services, experiences

sLab's vision goes beyond the limited model of most existing ebook systems (such as Amazon’s Kindle) by fully supporting annotating, quoting, comparing, searching, taking notes, and sharing, a process which may be described as “active reading” and which many commentators view as the threshold that must be met for the support of true knowledge work rather than simple leisure reading [Golovchinsky 2008, Sellen and Harper 2002]. sLab claims that emerging digital text infrastructures (search and retrieval systems, social media) are increasingly good at facilitating collective and institutional textual practices such as citing, referencing, curating, publishing, managing, etc. However, they are not very good at facilitating personal textual practices such as highlighting, commenting, annotating, etc. This bias stands in contrast to that of paper texts, which facilitate personal practices while making social and institutional ones more complex.

A number of competing systems, open and proprietary, exist for sorting, delivering and engaging with texts. The focus of this project will be to explore why, when and how these solutions need to inter-operate, and to develop new pathways, 'middleware', and interface technologies that assist in connecting the pieces and experiences together. The first design task is to create a framework that maps and relates emerging standards, systems, and devices, working together and with external partner organizations to create innovative bridging of digital and paper text solutions.

Following from this phase will be the development of prototype displays, applications, and devices that seek to make use of and extend this framework, calling attention to the advantages of an open, shared and accessible infrastructure. In addition to these human experiential benefits, the sBook framework seeks to foster significant advances in sustainability by developing expectations and business models for print-on-demand, reducing needless inventory. The development of the sBook framework starts from three specific attributes of reading we see as important and in need of critical attention and material support:

  • Reading occurs in a variety of spaces, places and at different times
  • Reading is social practice that involves other people, collectives, and institutions
  • Reading is an active process in the productive trajectory of intellectual work (that might include thinking, writing, making, linking, etc) rather than a passive process of consumption.

Given these precepts, the sBook framework is oriented towards conserving the valuable aspects of both digital and paper-based text. It is obvious that current text solutions foster and develop these aspects of reading to different degrees -- and for different reasons. Digital text solutions make personal rather than institutional distribution of texts more possible, but are currently limited in order to maintain traditional economic models of publishing. Ebook software standards and devices make markup and highlighting of text (important aspects of active reading) difficult, whereas paper copies encourage these practices. Key to our understanding of these issues is that they involve material and technical development as well as institutional change. The sBook framework does not discriminate between social, organizational, and technical development – it shall encompass all of these.


For more information, please visit


NCE logo

Friday, October 20, 2017 - 12:30pm
Lab Member: 
Evi Hui
Garry Ing

Congratulations to our Masters Graduands!

Graduate students at convocation 2017
Thursday, June 15, 2017 - 10:30am

The Office of Graduate Studies congratulates our 2017 Graduands!

We are delighted to celebrate your incredible achievements and the culmination of years of hard work, determination, creation and discoveries. As well, we’d like to thank the friends and family of our students/alumni for their support.

Now that you are representing OCAD U, we hope you keep in touch by joining the Alumni Association. We invite you to visit and participate in future OCAD U events!


The Office of Graduate Studies

OCAD University


This year, the Graduate Studies community at OCAD University is once again fortunate to be able to acknowledge & recognize particular individuals who have demonstrated exceptional achievement in their studies through their research and creative practice.

Contemporary Art, Design and New Media Art Histories

Cydney Langill Contemporary Art, Design and New Media Art Histories Award for Outstanding Writing

Criticism & Curatorial Practice

Justine Hartlieb-Power Criticism and Curatorial Practice Award for Outstanding Thesis ExhibitionValentynaOniskoCriticism and Curatorial Practice Award for Outstanding Exhibition

Digital Futures

Egill Vidarsson Digital Futures Award for Best Thesis Defence Presentation

Fusun Uzun Digital Futures Futures Award for Best Thesis Document and Award for Best Social Innovation

Jordan Shaw Digital Futures Award for Best Exhibited Thesis Work

Ling Ding Digital Futures Award for Best Thesis Defence Presentation

Marcelo Muller Luft Digital Futures Award for Best Social Innovation

Inclusive Design

Chad Lesch Inclusive Design Award of Excellence

Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media and Design

Eli Schwanz Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media and Design Award for Media Experimentation and Excellent Execution

Iveta Karpathyova Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media and Design Award for Interdisciplinary Excellence

Mariam Magsi Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media and Design Award for Achievement in Local and International Artistic Recognition

Thomas Haskell Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media and Design Award for Rigor in Material Investigation

Strategic Foresight and Innovation

AdriennePacini Strategic Foresight and Innovation Award for Best Major Research Paper

Inclusive Design Summer Intensive Exhibit Opening

Friday, June 23, 2017 - 5:00pm to 7:30pm
Venue & Address: 
Graduate Gallery, Ground Floor, 205 Richmond St. W.
Inclusive Design Logo

Province launches strategy to connect people with disabilities to employers

Monday, June 5, 2017

Ontario is launching a new strategy to connect more people with disabilities to rewarding jobs and more employers to new talent to help grow their businesses.

Access Talent: Ontario's Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities will help increase employment for people with disabilities and connect businesses to talent by:

  • Supporting the development and employment goals of students and young people, including the launch of a new pilot through the Ontario Disability Support Program to provide individualized and coordinated services and supports.
  • Engaging employers as partners and champions through an online platform that will connect businesses, people with disabilities, and the public to share advice and lessons learned.
  • Streamlining employment and training services to better meet the needs of job seekers and employers through the introduction of a new Supported Employment program at Employment Ontario.
  • Establishing the government as an accessibility leader by raising awareness and changing attitudes through public education. 
  • Increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities and connecting businesses to new talent are part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

The government is partnering with OCAD University's Inclusive Design Research Centre to deliver the BIG IDeA, a collaborative pilot program that celebrates successes and promotes innovations in accessibility. As part of the program, major tech companies—including IBM, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Apple—are helping to break down accessibility barriers in machine learning models.


Secretary of Cabinet visits OCAD U

Steve Orsini with Sara Diamond and Ana Jofre looking at a table
Friday, June 2, 2017

On Friday, June 2, OCAD University hosted Steve Orsini, Ontario’s Secretary of the Cabinet, Head of the Public Service and Clerk of the Executive Council.

During the visit, OCAD University senior administrators, faculty and staff heard about Mr. Orsini’s efforts to transform the Ontario Public Service (OPS), including through digital and open government.

President Sara Diamond highlighted the specialized and unique art, design and research produced by OCAD U students and faculty, and its alignment with the Government of Ontario’s priorities.

Several researchers and lab directors, including Jutta Treviranus, Dr. Nabil Harfoush, Dr. Greg Singer and Dr. Ana Jofre presented their work, demonstrating OCAD U’s leadership in creativity and innovation, with expertise in the areas of design, visual analytics, strategic foresight and innovation and inclusive design.

The tour concluded with a visit to the Imagination Catalyst, OCAD University’s business incubator.


Two seated men  point to monitor
Two men standing
Two men shaking hands

CIBC funds Indigenous and Design scholarships at OCAD University

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - 11:00am

CIBC has pledged a gift of $100,000 in scholarships to OCAD University to support two of the institution’s unique programs, the Indigenous Visual Culture Program and the Inclusive Design Program.

“We deeply value CIBC’s support of these two outstanding programs,” says Dr. Sara Diamond, President and Vice-Chancellor, OCAD University. “This generous gift supports our mandate of providing a learning environment that fosters inclusivity and diversity, and that values Indigenous cultural knowledge and the recognition of First Nation, Métis and Inuit histories’ significance in contemporary art and culture.”

The CIBC Scholarships in Indigenous Visual Culture will be awarded to students enrolled in the undergraduate Indigenous Visual Culture Program. Multiple scholarships will be made available based on program needs.

The program prepares students to engage in complex and evolving global discourses in Indigenous history, art history and contemporary art practice across a range of expressions, material and media. 

The CIBC Inclusive Design Entrance Scholarships will be awarded to new domestic students enrolled in the Inclusive Design graduate program. Two scholarships will be offered each year to candidates selected by an admissions committee.

Inclusive design advances accessibility and encompasses the full range of human diversity including ability, language, culture, gender and age. From policies, customer service, infrastructure, technology and buildings to everyday products, design can accommodate and include everyone.

“CIBC is committed to the advancement of both diversity and student opportunity, and through supporting these programs, we look forward to nurturing Indigenous education and investing in our leaders of tomorrow,” said Alicia Dubois, MVP Indigenous Markets, CIBC.