Students find Innovative IDeAs for making Ontario more accessible

On Tuesday, May 15, winners of the Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA) student competition were announced at the Ontario Centres of Excellence Discovery Conference 2012.

This province-wide initiative is organized by the Council of Ontario Universities (COU), with support from the Government of Ontario. The top three prize winners were:

First Prize: Will McDonald, Carleton University. Winning Design: Accessible Tandem Cycling – designed to provide an accessible cycling experience.
Second Prize: Kevin Spencer, Carleton University. Winning design: Nü Viü – an indoor navigation system for people with low vision.
Third Prize: Hillary Tyler, Brock University. Winning design: Everybody Hurts Campaign – designed to promote empathy to break down attitudinal barriers toward those living with mental illness.

“Tapping the innovative capabilities of our students is an excellent way to build awareness of accessibility-related issues and to advance ideas that lead to a more accessible world,” says Alastair Summerlee, Chair of COU and the President of the University of Guelph.  “Our goal is to further the objectives of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and to help our province become a leader in accessibility.”

Throughout the 2011-2012 academic year, Ontario undergraduate students were encouraged to put their minds to work on developing innovative, cost-effective, and practical solutions to accessibility-related issues.  Working in teams or individually, students were asked to collaborate with industry, government or community partners, including members of the disability community, to identify and to develop a plan to address one of five barriers to accessibility: attitudinal, information and communications, technological, policy/practice (organizational), and architectural/structural.

“The Ontario undergraduate students who entered the contest all demonstrate an amazing capacity for innovation and creativity; we are very proud of them and congratulate them for a job well done,” says Bonnie Patterson, COU President and CEO. “It is our hope that they will apply, throughout their lives, the accessibility knowledge and skills that they have acquired through this competition.”

For more information about the IDeA competition, visit:


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