Skip to content
Designing for the full range of human diversity


The Inclusive Design Institute (IDI) is a generative hub of applied research that addresses the challenge of designing our information and communication systems (ICT) so that they work for all potential users, including users with disabilities, varying language needs and diverse cultural preferences. The IDI is Canada’s first research hub focused on digital inclusion.

Led by Jutta Treviranus, centred at OCAD University, with eight postsecondary partner institutions and over 100 collaborating organizations, the Inclusive Design Institute bears witness to Ontario’s and Canada’s commitment to inclusion. The IDI is a regional centre of expertise networked to local infrastructure at each participating institution, and supportive of distributed collaboration and proactive design and development of inclusive ICT.

This regional centre of expertise will prepare Ontario to respond to the increased demand worldwide for accessible ICT, a demand that is intensified by an aging population and the adoption of accessibility legislation by all major trading partners. The IDI will help Ontario play a leadership role in producing ICT, digital media and information services that meet this growing demand as well as highly qualified personnel to fuel ongoing innovation in inclusive design.

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. 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.

Drawing upon long-standing collaborative partnerships between world-class researchers in a variety of disciplines, the IDI infrastructure supports research to develop:

  • software architectures,
  • design and development tools,
  • supportive applications,
  • exemplary policies,
  • specifications and standards
needed to facilitate ubiquitous inclusive ICT design and development.

The regional research hub includes:

  1. networked collaboration and research applications that are designed to be accessible to researchers and research participants with disabilities,
  2. usability and accessibility labs (including facilities for remote testing) that support evaluation of transformable interfaces, extremely diverse users and a wide range of contexts,
  3. infrastructure to research inclusive cultural performances,
  4. modal translation facilities that enable translation between sensory modalities in both two and three dimensions,
  5. facilities to support research in innovative real-time and post production captioning and description,
  6. collaborative facilities to explore language and cultural interpretation, and
  7. a research platform to study context-aware location-aware technologies, intelligent environments and ubiquitous Web applications.

The IDI is an essential building block for establishing the “innovative, creative and inclusive society” discussed in Ontario’s Innovation Agenda. It will spur innovation by eliciting “an openness on the part of people to new ways of thinking and doing that bring about improvements, whether to an individual business, an industry, government, the economy or society as a whole.”

Leadership & Governance

The Inclusive Design Institute (IDI) is organized and maintained through an interlocking series of administrative structures designed to ensure that:

  • Participating institutions have equitable access to the infrastructure and a representative voice in policy setting, and strategic decision-making about the infrastructure and research agenda;
  • Leadership and communication mechanisms will facilitate close collaboration between the partners and unify the team to carry out the overall vision of the network;
  • The infrastructure is itself inclusively designed and accessible to researchers, collaborators and participating communities;
  • Infrastructure setup, maintenance and use are managed effectively and efficiently; and
  • Network and supporting infrastructure are sustainable and responsive to change and innovation.

Steering Committee

Led by Jutta Treviranus and consisting of users representing supporting institutions, end-user communities, and the broad research themes, the Steering Committee develops policies and plans for equitable use, resource sharing, risk management, network communication, and infrastructure maintenance and upgrade.

Advisory Committee

Providing ongoing guidance to the Steering Committee and IDI community at large, the Advisory Committee represents end-user communities, implementers of the products of research (including industry, government, public institutions and not-for-profit organizations), and senior national thought and policy leaders.

Technical Committee

Led by Robert Luke, the Technical Committee consists of a designated technical administrative staff member from each participant institution. This committee ensures that resources and skills are shared among all participants, and that infrastructure is effectively designed, developed, maintained and is optimally interoperable.

Quality Management Committee

Representing researchers, consumer organizations, industry, and the public sector, the Quality Management Committee is responsible for quality assurance and monitoring of continuous quality improvement. It will conduct at minimum annual assessments of the research and infrastructure program and will set up an open feedback mechanism for participants in research and broader stakeholders.

Project Manager

Within the Inclusive Design Research Centre, the Project Manager, supports the Steering Committee, coordinates communication, liaises with regional research teams, plans the maintenance and renewal of the network, and facilitates dissemination of research results.

Research Clusters

IDI research and development projects are grouped into the following strategic clusters:

  1. Design and Development
  2. Implementation and Information Practices, with subgroups:
    1. Inclusive Education
    2. Health
    3. Civic Engagement
    4. Culture and the Arts
  3. Business Case, Policies, Standards and Legislation
  4. Mobile and Pervasive Computing

Capacity Building

The Inclusive Design Institute is committed to building a knowledge community that can address the important goal of digital inclusion within Ontario, throughout Canada and globally. There are several associated programs that help to develop the human capacity to sustain this important agenda:

Implementation and Sustainability

In addition to the many companies collaborating in the research and implementing the outcomes of the research, the Inclusive Design Institute has generated a number of new businesses that support digital inclusion within Ontario.