Portable toilet that expands for people in wheelchairs wins COU’s annual IDeA student contest to improve accessibility

A portable toilet that can expand by four times the usual size to make life easier for people in wheelchairs, but can shrink for easy transportation, is this year’s winner of the Council of Ontario Universities’ (COU) annual Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA) student competition.

The E-Paw, or Expandable Portable Accessible Washroom, designed by Carleton University’s Jasmine Yeung, took the top prize in the IDeA competition in which Ontario university students compete to come up with inventions that help remove barriers for people with disabilities.

“This expandable portable washroom is one of those wonderful inventions that will improve the quality of life for many people,” says Max Blouw, COU Chair and President of Wilfrid Laurier University.

The first runner-up was a team of Western University students that invented a sensor that emits a sound when swimmers with visual difficulties near the edge of a pool. Tied for second runner-up was a McMaster University student who created a mapping system that rates the accessibility of campuses, and a student from Carleton who created a wristband that vibrates to alert those with visual impairments that friends are nearby.

“Ontario universities are committed to creating an accessible environment and to supporting the government’s goal in this area,” says Bonnie M. Patterson, COU President and CEO.

“We are teaching innovation on our campuses – our graduates will take this knowledge with them wherever they go and make the world a better, more accessible, place.”

This year, 20 of Ontario’s 21 publicly assisted universities participated in the competition, which is funded by the Ontario government’s EnAbling Change program, through the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario in the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment.

Finalists included students from Brock, Carleton, Guelph, McMaster, Ryerson, Western and York.

The winner and three runners-up will receive prizes of $1,500, $1,000 and $500 respectively.

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COU is a membership organization of 21 publicly assisted universities in Ontario. It works closely with the provincial and federal governments to shape public policies that help universities deliver high-quality programs for students and advance the research and innovation that improves the social, cultural and economic well-being of Ontarians.

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