Innovative ‘IDeAs’ for making Ontario more accessible are due April 1

A logo for a competition run by the Council of Ontario UniversitiesYork University students, along with students from other Ontario universities, are being challenged to put their creative minds to work to develop solutions that will make the world more accessible for persons with disabilities, including new ideas for devices, software, architectural design, awareness campaigns or policies.

The Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA) competition is an initiative organized by the Council of Ontario Universities (COU), in partnership with the Government of Ontario. The province-wide competition is being overseen by the IDeA Working Group, comprised of representatives from engineering and design Faculties at several Ontario universities.

The Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA) student competition is aimed to inspire Ontario’s undergraduate students to develop innovative, cost-effective and practical solutions to accessibility-related issues in the community. Working individually or in teams, undergraduate students at Ontario universities are encouraged to collaborate with industry, government and community partners (including members of the disability community) to identify an accessibility related issue, to develop a plan to address the issue and to implement a solution, with input and guidance from academic and industry experts.

Students will vie for $3,000 in prizes, with entries that must address barriers to accessibility in five categories: attitudinal, information or communications, technological, architectural and physical, and systemic. The 2016 IDeA competition features a bonus prize to be awarded to the submission that best addresses barriers in business.

York students can find rules and registration information here. The deadline for contest submissions is April 1. Students interested in submitting their idea or concept should review the rules and criteria, register and then submit the concept by e-mail to by the end of the business on April 1.

Submissions will first be evaluated by York University and then successful candidates will move on to a second round of judging conducted by a panel of experts in the five categories. Evaluations will be based on innovation, cost-effectiveness and practicality. Judges will also place a premium on entries whose format itself demonstrates consideration to accessibility issues.

In the spring, a selection of finalists will be invited by COU to showcase their designs at an event that will bring together key players from industry, academia, government, the investment community, entrepreneurs and students to pursue collaborative opportunities for innovation. More details on this event are forthcoming.

Visit the IDeAS Rules and Regulations web page for submission guidelines.