OCAD University opens Inclusive Design Institute

Toronto, May 24, 2012

OCAD University celebrated the official opening of the Inclusive Design Institute (IDI) on May 24, 2012.

The Inclusive Design Institute is a leading applied research centre established to ensure that everyone can participate in our digitally transformed society. With eight postsecondary partner institutions and more than 100 multi-sector collaborators, this regional centre of expertise will prepare Ontario to respond to the increased demand worldwide for inclusive digital systems and practices, a demand that is intensified by an aging population and the adoption of accessibility legislation by all major trading partners.

Many essential activities today require going online whether it is finding a job, applying for government services, participating in education or communicating with friends. Many people face barriers to online access because systems are generally designed for the typical user. The number of people facing barriers due to a disability is increasing as our population ages. The IDI will ensure that the online systems and services we depend upon are designed to work for everyone.

Supported by both the Government of Canada through the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Ministry for Economic Development and Innovation, the IDI will help train highly qualified personnel to fuel ongoing innovation in inclusive design and enable Ontario to take a leadership role globally.

"The Inclusive Design Institute is destined to be a world-class facility that will make technology accessible to everyone, everywhere," said Gilles G. Patry, President and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation. "With its core of accomplished researchers, this vibrant hub of innovation and training will create opportunities for working with industry to improve their products and processes."

"The McGuinty government has made real progress in ensuring the province maintains the highest standards of accessibility, and our investment in the Inclusive Design Institute is an important step towards making the province fully accessible," said Minister of Economic Development and Innovation Brad Duguid. "The work of this Institute will lead to greater inclusion in the digital world, and that means a higher standard of life, education and employment for all Ontarians."

"We're very proud to officially launch the Inclusive Design Institute, where we bring together a community that values collaboration, broad participation, transparency and openness," said OCAD University's Jutta Treviranus, Director of the IDI and the Institute's principal researcher. "Inclusion and diversity are Ontario's richest untapped resources. Research at the IDI will help Ontario sustain and develop this resource and foster the inherent potential to create a vibrant, productive generator of innovative, inclusively designed information and communication systems and services."

Inclusion and diversity are not only values or rights to be protected, but also catalysts for new ideas, design principles that lead to better design, business strategies that make good business sense and potential economic drivers with ubiquitous social benefits.

The Institute's work is focused into four research clusters:

  • Design and Development: creating tools, strategies, resources and exemplars that proactively address the early stages of application development;
  • Business Case, Policies, Standards & Legislation: exploring the role of policies, standards, and legislation in promoting digital inclusion and examining the economic impact of inclusive design and new emerging markets addressing digital inclusion;
  • Mobile & Pervasive Computing: focusing on the potential of mobile, context-aware and location-aware technologies, pervasive computing and ambient intelligence; and
  • Information & Implementation Practices: examining the role of information and communications technology and inclusive design in four sectoral domains: education, health, culture and civic engagement.
  • The Institute's eight postsecondary partners are OCAD University, University of Toronto, Ryerson University, York University, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Sheridan College, George Brown College and Seneca College.

Some of the multi-sector, international projects using the IDI facilities include:

  • Fluid, an open-source software community that designs user interfaces, builds Web tools, teaches inclusive design and integrates interface components into open source applications;
  • FLOE, flexible learning for open education;
  • AEGIS, which works towards integrating accessibility into emerging information and communication technology;
  • Cloud4All, which aims to develop a complete new paradigm in accessibility by replacing adaptation of individual products and services for a person with automatic-personalization of any mainstream product or service using cloud technologies;
  • IDRC Mobile research consists of open-ended research and development on accessible, usable, intelligent, context- and location-aware mobile technologies; and
  • Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII), a software and service enhancement to ensure broadband infrastructure is barrier free.

In addition to many cloud-delivered accessible research applications and collaboration tools, the IDI infrastructure includes several central research labs, including the:

  • Distributed Collaboration Network;
  • Participatory Inclusive Design Lab;
  • Cross-platform testing facility;
  • Mobile and Pervasive Computing research platform;
  • Accessible Gaming Platform;
  • Sensory Mode Translation and Media Access Facility;
  • Accessible Performance Lab; and the
  • Experimental Inclusive Meeting Facility.

The IDI's laboratories and collaboration spaces are located in three main areas on the OCAD University campus, with additional laboratories located at IDI partner facilities. At OCAD U, the IDI spans the Distributed Collaboration Network and Cross Platform Testing Facility at 205 Richmond Street West, the Experimental Inclusive Meeting Facility and Sensory Mode Translation and Media Access Facility (including captioning and description) at 230 Richmond Street West and the Participatory Inclusive Design Lab and Accessible Performance Lab at 49 McCaul Street.

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For more information, please contact:

Sarah Mulholland, Media & Communications Officer
416-977-6000 Ext. 327 (mobile Ext. 1327)