Canada Foundation for Innovation

Canada Foundation for Innovation

January 10, 2011 13:00 ET

CFI News Brief: Designing Information and Communication Technologies for Not-So-Typical Users Worldwide

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 10, 2011) - Today's society has become increasingly dependent on information and communication technologies (ICT). Searching the web for information, buying tickets online and registering for a course are just a few of the many applications which have become part of our daily lives.

While these technologies are supposedly available to all, designers have not always thought about the needs of not-so-typical users. People with disabilities, varying language needs and abilities, diverse cultural preferences and even the aged have all encountered some barriers when using ICT.

But research conducted in the Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) at the Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto, is looking to overcome such barriers.

The common function across the IDRC's projects is to infuse inclusive design into software design and development process, right from the beginning. The Centre is concerned with finding novel approaches to inclusion in the digital domain that address individual accessibility needs and support involvement by all, from the users to the designers.

"At the IDRC, we define inclusive design as design that enables and supports the participation of individuals and groups representing the full range of human diversity," says Professor Jutta Treviranus, a world leader in inclusive design research and development who heads the Centre. "We are strong advocates of the overlooked principle that people with disabilities should be producers and not only consumers of information, knowledge and culture."

The imagination and sophisticated design capabilities of Dr. Treviranus and her team have been sparking interest from international partners and stakeholders. 

The $15 million facility for which the Canada Foundation for Innovation provided $6 million has forged partnerships with ICT industry leaders such as IBM, Mozilla, Apple, RIM, Google, AOL and Yahoo, along with the public sector and other stakeholder communities. The research has also caught the attention of several countries around the world.

If you would like to receive similar News Briefs from the Canada Foundation for Innovation every few weeks, email Yves Melanson at

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) is an independent corporation created by the Government of Canada to fund research infrastructure. The CFI's mandate is to strengthen the capacity of Canadian universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions to carry out world-class research and technology development that benefits Canadians. Since its creation in 1997, the CFI has committed $5.3 billion in support of more than 6,800 projects at 131 research institutions in 65 municipalities across Canada.

Contact Information

  • Ontario College of Art and Design University
    Inclusive Design Research Centre
    and Inclusive Design Institute
    Jutta Treviranus
    Professor and Director
    Ontario College of Art and Design University
    Sarah Mulholland, Officer
    Media & Communications
    416-977-6000 x327 (mobile: x1327)