COU Announces 2016 IDeA Competition Winners as Students Break Barriers for People with Disabilities 

A height-adjustable, movable table with built-in storage that provides home cooks with a comfortable and flexible work surface in the kitchen is this year’s winner of the Council of Ontario Universities’ (COU) annual Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA) student competition.

Designed by Carleton University student Micah Rakoff Bellman, the innovative table takes the top prize in this year’s IDeA competition through which Ontario’s university undergraduate students compete to come up with inventions that help remove barriers for people with disabilities.

“Cooking can present challenges for someone with a permanent or temporary physical disability and this winning invention is a novel and unique idea that could potentially make a real impact in someone’s life,” says David Lindsay, President and CEO of COU.

“Today’s winner, along with all of the remarkable students that were involved in the IDeA competition, are breaking down accessibility barriers and sparking ideas that will open doors of opportunity for people with disabilities. I truly commend each and every one of them for their efforts and outstanding ideas.”

Group shot of the 2016 IDeA finalistsSecond prize goes to Anuja Chokshi, Astor Wong, Eric Wong and Motaz Al-Ashhab, a group of University of Waterloo students who designed an app to help users navigate between two locations by providing accessibility information about the journey, including everything from the type of door handles to the amenities nearby. This team also received a bonus prize that was awarded this year for the IDeA that best addresses a barrier in business.

Carleton University student Melody Chen was awarded third prize for a device that uses a remote to adjust closets vertically and horizontally in order to optimize storage space and make vertical storage more accessible to wheelchair users.

“This competition is a great way to start a conversation about barriers to accessibility and to get people thinking about solutions that can help improve lives,” says Lindsay. “By tackling these societal challenges together, we’re hopefully changing the way that we think about our communities.”

“Education and innovation are the keys to success in this changing and challenging world, and the IDeA competition is just one example of how Ontario’s universities are helping foster an innovative and inclusive society to enrich lives and better our future.”

Each of Ontario’s 21 publicly assisted universities participated in this year’s competition, 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 the University of Windsor, OCAD University and the University of Toronto.

The winners and three runners-up will receive prizes of $1,500, $1,000 and $500 respectively, while the bonus prize winners receives $1,500.

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COU is the voice of Ontario’s universities, promoting the value of education, research and innovation that leads to social, cultural and economic success.

For more information, please contact:

Dayana Fraser
Senior Communications Officer
416-979-2165 x238
647-982-4311 (cell)
Email Dayana Fraser