Author: Erica Charbonneau

Micro Inclusive Design Challenge for Businesses and Organizations

Our seventh hackathon explored inclusive design from two perspectives. One is to making a businesses and services more accessible. The second revolves around the idea of re-designing or re-inventing one of your creations, products or goods.

Team 1: Young Centre For The Performing Arts

The Young Centre for the Performing Arts was envisioned by George Brown College and Soulpepper Theatre Company to be home to Toronto’s arts community and a destination for all theatre lovers. Anchored by the presence of Soulpepper’s year-round repertory season and George Brown College’s Theatre School, the Young Centre provides a home for both the leading artists of today, as well as the arts leaders of tomorrow. Find out more here.

Picture of the Front entrance


Guests requiring wheelchair accessible seats are not able to purchase seats online and are required to phone ahead to the box office. Occasionally this gets missed by a person on the website, and they follow through the ticket purchase in seats that are not accessible.

Online floor plan of one of the theatres


● Mark location of accessible seats using icon
● Clearly show the location of, Entrance points, Stairs, Stage, Balcony
● Make contact information more obvious
● Make a call to action to click the map more readable
● Provide pictures to show what the view looks like from the seats
● Assign designated accessible seats


New online floor plan indicating accessible features


Picture of the working team

Team 2: Evergreen Brick Works

Evergreen is helping make cities flourish. Cities that are low carbon, inclusive to all and sustainable at their core. Cities to live, move, work, play, learn and thrive in. Since 1991, Evergreen has been facilitating change. Working with other city builders to convene, collaborate and catalyze ideas into action. Their teams connect with many stakeholders to lead with a mindset focused on solutions. They collaborate to develop innovative ideas and catalyze change by testing solutions, developing prototypes and scaling projects. Find out more here.


To create a multi-sensory trail experience for those with mobility limitations, and hearing and visual impairments.

Aerial view of Evergreen Brick Works
Aerial View


At the beginning the team focused on:

  •  a visual tour of the trail
  • reviewed site map
  • highlighted specific problems thinking about needs and they realized they apply to multiple groups

Then the whole team interviewed people with specific needs

Researched existing solutions

Visitor map
Visitor Map


They called the solution “Smart Brick”. What it does:

  • Basic Explorer
    • Identifies- what surrounds you- birds, foliage, industrial buildings
    • Indicates direction
    • Signals when you’re walking in a dangerous area (ie you’re about to fall into a pond)
    • Identifies what you can touch, sit, hear
  • Educated Explorer
    • Describes the sounds, sights and significance of each
    • You can choose to hear the sounds of the birds that live here, the types of brick that surround you, the source of the smell.
Intervention of the visitor map
Intervention of the visitor map



Application with two screens

Team 3: In the Soil Arts Festival

In the Soil Arts Festival brings Niagara artists from a range of disciplines together to provide unique audience experiences. The festival nurtures the creation of new work, showcases talent, encourages innovation, offers learning opportunities for youth and provides intimate and uncommon platforms for audiences to experience work by contemporary performing and literary artists, musicians and media artists. In the Soil is Niagara’s homegrown arts festival and is working to make a Niagara that is self-determining and culturally distinct. Find out more here.


Presenting an accessibility map for outdoor festival hub and every venue of the festival.


● A simplified map designed inclusively
● Includes icons and symbols readable in braille
● Map is simplified at a higher level of abstraction
● This makes navigation easier for all people, Including the visually impaired.
● Incorporating different types of accessibility
● Accessibility feature symbols: Interpretation, Hard of hearing, Amplification, Braille, Closed Captioning, Visually

Team members working with an ASL interpreter



Team 4: Scotiabank Arena

Scotiabank Arena is a multi-purpose arena located on Bay Street in the South Core district of Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League (NHL), the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the Toronto Rock of the National Lacrosse League (NLL). Scotiabank Arena has, from its initial design to completion, revolutionized many concepts included in new arenas and stadiums built since then. These features include luxury suites accessible on the ground floor, splitting the main scoreboard into several sections, rotating all sponsor signage in the bowl at once (to allow dominant messaging or “neutralization” for events that disallow commercial advertising), and multiple restaurants in and out of the main arena bowl view. Scotiabank Arena also hosts other events, such as concerts, political conventions and video game competitions. Find out more here.

Picture of the Scotiabank arena inside

General Challenge

To create a list of needs of the community of people with disabilities and identify which ones are covered, which are not and suggest some solutions for the ones that are not covered or improve ones that are already in place. You should include: website, facilities, marketing and communications and performances.

Team members

Scotiabank Arena Team
  • Hanbin Chang
  • Daniel Di Carlo
  • Jon Kerr

Design Process

Define the Challenge ⇒ Research ⇒ Brainstorm ⇒ Prototyping 


Currently, the only accessibility service for people with disabilities at the Scotiabank Arena is for those on wheelchairs. The team founded that other groups of people, who require accessibility services such as hard of hearing or visually impaired people, are not adequately accommodated.


After gathering pain points and needs of hard of hearing people attending arena. They had a brainstorm session to come up with solutions, using inclusive design principles, that could enhance the experience for those customers.

They came up with two ideas that will enhance the experience in these two areas :

Two Solutions

Inclusive Design Solution

  • Their first design solution to help people hard of hearing was using Augmented Reality technology to provide a virtual map of the arena. This solution will not only help people hard of hearing finding seats and navigating to different amenities at the arena, but it will also help other groups as well.

two screens of a mobile showing the navigation system.

  • The second solution was to utilize Microsoft HoloLens with its Mixed Reality technology so that people hard of hearing could experience concert or sporting events with assistive technology while enjoying their experience. Using the Mixed Reality technology, the hard of hearing audience would be able to receive assistance such as live sign language interpreter on the screen or see the live texts appearing on the screen.
mobile screen
mobile screen


Team 5: Idita Design Services

Professional services in industrial design, architectural design, urban design/planning, graphic design, web design, user experience design (UX), user interface design (UI) and user interaction design (IxD). IDITA is sensibly concerned about human factors and their influence in the design process, therefore we consider carefully sustainability, culture, ergonomics, new technologies and their impact on society. It also welcomes international projects and collaborations, providing services in English, French, Spanish and Italian. Find out more here.


Studio providing product, architectural and graphic design services to business and startups.Better communication with clients in an interactive and easy way. Make them understand what is design and the design process.


● Digital Funnel: information collection
● Design Crash Course of design process: instruct clients beforehand
● Design Your own Style: digital game looking for a friendlier and fun approach

Picture of the team
Team members



Team 6: Worship Practices

To facilitate full participation for people with disabilities, it is essential to address many areas of inclusion. It is not enough to make sure that your new member can get in the door and use the restroom. There is more that can be done to foster a cultural shift in the congregation to develop a better understanding of inclusion and accessibility and the experience of members with disabilities. To learn mover visit Our Doors Are Open project:


A practice integral to various forms of religious service is the burning of incense using charcoal. This has unintentionally caused harm to individuals with invisible disabilities. Both of these can cause a variety of breathing difficulties which can compromise service experiences and overall health. Those affected could feel excluded from services including traditional use of incense.


● The solution is implemented into the services where traditional incense is currently used, including major holidays and festivals.
● This still allows for a minority of services where traditional incense can still be used. This would be clearly communicated to all community members.
● A commitment to hold scent-free and smoke-free services on all days where traditional services are held, earlier in the day.
● Both forms of service, alteration of pattern of the procession to ensure a scent-free/smoke-free portion of the space.

Team members


Team member with the prototype
Team WORSHIP PRACTICES Hack’s Prototype

Get Accessibility Advisor Badges

The badges issued by BIG IDeA recognize the commitment of a registered Accessibility Advisor in supporting inclusion. Badges are earned based counts of:

Badge levels are as follows:

  • 25 contributions earns Aware Accessibility Advisor Badge
  • 50 contributions earns Bronze Accessibility Advisor Badge
  • 75 contributions earns Silver Accessibility Advisor Badge
  • 100 contributions earns Gold Accessibility Advisor Badge

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Micro Inclusive Design Challenge – DEEP 2018


Our sixth hackathon explored inclusive design from two perspectives. One is to make businesses and services more accessible. The second revolves around the idea of re-designing or re-inventing one of your creations, products or goods.

Team 1: Arc’teryx

Arc’teryx was founded by single-minded climbers in need of better equipment, to meet the challenges of our harsh Coast Mountain range. They believe design is a process: prototype, test, revise. Driven by the specific needs of each product.

Picture of Arc'terix Store on Queen Street West, Toronto


The challenge brought by Arc’terix Toronto was: How can we make a more convenient accessible zipper while still maintaining its function for outdoor use?


Initially, the team researched a magnetic solution to aid in one-handed zipping, but this would not work on a double-zipper.  Finally, they found that velcro was the best solution. High-quality velcro will last longer and will not compromise the durability of the jacket or seal. Offering different coat lengths (zipper lengths) for different body types and disabilities. The potential idea for a plastic silhouette where the double zip can be more easily secured.


Team ARC’TERYX Hack’s Prototype

Team 2: Bank of Montreal

BMO Financial Group is a Canadian multinational investment bank and financial services company.


At the BMO, there is an open space to gather for meetings. There is a system to book, but it is not easy to find yours. How can the BMO make it easier for employees to find the meeting places that they have booked online?


App for personal cellular that:
● Book the room and
● Guides to get there


Team BANK OF MONTREAL’s Prototype

Team 3: Metrolinx

Metrolinx is a Crown agency that manages and integrates road and public transport in the Golden Horseshoe region, which includes the cities of Toronto and Hamilton and area, in the province of Ontario in Canada.

a digital drawing of Toronto with a train, people and bikes


The city wants to install protected bike lanes along main roads, but specialized transit customers need to be picked up and dropped off. In the current design, they either have to cross the bike lane, or the transit vehicle has to block the bike lanes. What can be done?

A drawing of a road intersection with bike lanes and pedestrian cross lines


The group brainstormed:

  1. User groups: Wheel-Trans users, delivery people, bikers, walkers, bus riders, car drivers, strollers, children.
  2. Modalities: curbs, paint, tactile pavement, signage, embedded lighting, sonic alerts.
  3. Incentives/disincentives: Enforcement, incentives.


● Protected sidewalk cut-outs are best but require wide sidewalks.
● When sidewalks are narrow the road could curve from side to side to leave drop-off zones for bus and Wheel-Trans passengers and commercial deliveries.


Team METROLINX’s Prototype

Team 4: Royal Ontario Museum

The Royal Ontario Museum is a museum of art, world culture and natural history in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is one of the largest museums in North America and the largest in Canada. It attracts more than one million visitors every year, making the ROM the most-visited in Canada.

Picture of the ROM from Bloor St. The new building


The ROM provides tactile exhibition components with raised letters and braille labels that are “smattered” throughout the museum or a special exhibition – for visitors with full sight one looks around and sees them – or simply comes across them over the course of a visit.

How to improve the museum experience for visitors of all abilities, in particular in regards to way-finding and individual experiences with museum displays.

ROM Floor plan in 3D of the second lever


  • Using visitor’s own smart devices (location-aware, i.e. beacon, GPS, QR codes or other technologies) or museum supplied device to provide way-finding and deliver content and experience.
  • Contemplation space(s) with books, computer stations, braille books/large print books, tactile stations etc.
  • Special ticketed entry times to meet the needs of visitors with diverse needs.



Team 5: Theatres

The number of audience members with a disability has increased to 7%, reveals a study of 6,500 productions by Purple Seven in the UK from 2012 to 2015.


A local theatre company in Toronto has developed accessible programs and services but does not know how to effectively cannot reach out to the groups that could most benefit from the new inclusive features they are providing for.

Where they are advertising, the company don’t access their target demographic because they don’t know how to connect with the community. What would an accessible campaign look like and how should the company plan to reach their extended target audience?


  1. Identify accessibility features provided by the theatre
  2. Identify key organizations in the disability communities
  3. Design a marketing package to bring communities to the theatre
  4. Design new features for continuous accessibility improvements


  • Reaching out disability communities: CWDO, CILT, CPA, CNIB, ASL, LSQ, Toronto Mental Health
    Association, March of Dimes.
  • Arrange an interview with a theatre representative to talk about the fully accessible theatre experience
    on CFRB.
  • Links on the theatre website, facebook, twitter etc. to presentations of accessible theatre experience in
    different format: sign language, captioned.
  • The first time comers get a 50% discount.
  • Public education: accessibility ads posters inside/outside the theatre while attracting the general public using an open library, colourful surroundings etc.
  • Distribute newsletter each month in a year to promote new coming accessible features.
  • Possible new features:
    • Wireless access in the theatre to provide the audience with a different format of audio/video to explain
      the show based on their needs.
    • Allow and help people who have accessibility issues to play kind of an own show rather than being audience only


Team THEATERS Hack’ Prototype

Team 6: Toronto Symphony Orchestra

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is a Canadian orchestra based in Toronto, Ontario. Founded in 1922, the TSO gave regular concerts at Massey Hall until 1982, and since then has performed at Roy Thomson Hall. The TSO also manages the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra.


TSO has recently received a patron suggestion to explore how the TSO may
better educate patrons on Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.
The challenge is reducing the harmful effects that scented products have on patrons encouraging everyone to “Go Scent/Fragrance-Free.”


  • Creating an educational campaign with:
    • Graphics
    • Updated awareness: explaining what Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is and how it affects patrons
    • Peer to peer marketing: a video presentation
  • Opt-in message during purchase path to self-identify Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
    • Would link to further information and allow for follow-up directly from the organization
    • Creation of buttons
  • Creation of scent free section
    • When you buy a ticket in area, a pop-up explains that it’s a scent-free
      section and what that means



Register for BIG IDeA Events 2

Participate in a BIG IDeA Event – your experience is all that you need to bring! If you would like to contribute or learn more about inclusive design then sign up to be notified of our upcoming Inclusive Design Challenge Events.

Micro Inclusive Design Challenge – DEEP 2018

Location: Inclusive Design Institute/Red Lab at OCAD U, 49 McCaul St, M4W 2G8, Toronto
Time: Saturday, October 13th, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
Note: Free to all, no experience required. Supplies, lunch and refreshments are provided.

BIG IDeA project at OCAD U would like to invite you to be a part of the next Micro Inclusive Design Challenge – during DEEP Conference 2018. You will have the opportunity to explore inclusive design from two perspectives:

One is to make your business and services more accessible. We can help develop creative solutions for all kinds of challenges like easy ways to create accessible menus, making environments quieter, improving portable ramps, displaying goods in crowded spaces, providing service even when people can’t access the building. You may have your own challenge to bring or want to partner with a business owner to work on a challenge together.

The second goes around the idea of re-designing or re-inventing one of your creations, products or goods. Send us anything from your business, and we can work together in order to make it more inclusive and accessible for a variety of customers.

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      Feedback Resources

      Let your customers know that your business is open for feedback. BIG IDeA has posters and cards that you can display in store so that customers know to send their input to you through Remember, that is private. Only you get your clients feedback.

      These print materials are available to download in 8.5″x11″, 7″x5″, and 5.5″x4.25″.

      Inclusive Design Challenge Showcase: Access Density

      Partnered with Human Space, a division of Quadrangle, BIG IDeA hosted their fifth hackathon surrounding the future of vertical communities and what is needed to create accessible and adaptable spaces that fit different peoples’ needs.


      Challenge: EXTERIOR SPACE

      The size of a vertical community can be a game-changing opportunity for most BIAs (Business
      Improvement Areas) and neighbourhoods. What are the ripple effects that a large development can have on its surrounding neighbourhood? How can design amplify the positive contributions?

      What does intergenerational living look like, and how do we plan for providing supported and market rate units? What are the factors that go into designing a family-friendly suite, such as stroller storage and play spaces? How do we build community by allowing for a mix of neighbours?

      Solution: Moveable Walls

      Portes Ouvertes created a floorplan of a vertical living space where spaces were sectioned off to fit the needs of a growing community. They included many modes of adaptable furniture and added movable walls into the space so that areas could be modified. In the more publicly accessed floors they designed the space so that it was adaptable and open, creating a sense of community within the building as well as the surrounding neighbourhood.


      Team PORTES OUVERTES Hack’s Prototype

      Team 2: DOWNSVIEW SITE!

      Challenge: SITE

      What decisions and big moves can be made early on to find a location and develop a site which is inclusive, connected, and resilient? What does a vertical community want in a neighbourhood? What can it bring to a neighbourhood? How can we foster positive engagement with local residents and businesses in the planning stage to create communities which are inclusive, connected and resilient, not just within the development but in the larger fabric of the neighbourhood?


      The team first defined the words “Inclusivity”, “Connected”, and “Resilient” to start framing their work. By researching the needs of a growing vertical community they found out that Downsview would be a good site to develop, focusing on the points of accessible navigation, community interaction, mobility score, and integrated work and market spaces.


      Team DOWNSVIEW SITE’s Prototype

      Team 3: TUK TUK

      Challenge: TRANSPORTATION

      What considerations can be made in the design of a site, the buildings and the public and amenity spaces, to make the most out of transportation options available? How can a new development positively impact transportation for the whole area? What specific challenges are inherent in a “vertical community” itself? How does a new development create accessible, inclusive transportation options which respond to the community’s evolving needs?

      Solution: Connectivity

      By looking at how space can be managed to introduce interconnectivity Tuktuk created models of how the TTC could be more accessible by developing a multiple path system with smaller communal shuttles. They took care to look at the affordances of such a system, its needs in safety, and its needs in accessibility.


      Team TUK TUK’s Prototype

      Team 4: SKY WAY


      What exterior spaces can be created because of good planning of a site? What features are
      essential, and who has a say in this decision? What opportunity is there to embrace inclusion,
      connection to the neighbourhood, and how can the site’s exterior spaces be more flexible and
      responsive to community needs? How do design and programming in exterior spaces promote an accessible, connected, and resilient community?

      Solution: The Sky Way

      Team Sky Way created a bridge platform for a hypothetical vertical community as a recreational space outfitted with gardening areas and seating areas. They researched the needs of green space with urban environments and designed a space where residents can relax and connect.


      Team Sky Way Hack’ Prototype

      Team 5: CONNEXT

      Challenge: EXTERIOR SPACE

      What exterior spaces can be created because of good planning of a site? What features are
      essential, and who has a say in this decision? What opportunity is there to embrace inclusion,
      connection to the neighbourhood, and how can the site’s exterior spaces be more flexible and
      responsive to community needs? How do design and programming in exterior spaces promote an accessible, connected, and resilient community?

      Solution:: Exterior Connext

      Team Connext designed an outdoor space as well as two rooftop spaces for a hypothetical vertical community and focused on not just greenery but a sustainable and mobile space that would be able to cater to resident needs and wants.


      Team CONNEXT Hack’ Prototype

      With permission of the designer Michelle Villar we post her thoughts on her group’s process: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

      Team 6: RETAIL THERAPY

      Challenge: RETAIL

      New buildings typically have retail space at street level. What makes this space part of the community, and what can it do to be inclusive? What opportunity does the potential retail use have in connecting a neighbourhood with a building? What does resilient and sustainable retail space look like? What types of retail could have a negative effect? What size of retail could be ideal? What choices can be made in the design to foster inclusive, connected retail space?

      Solution:: Complete Retail

      Retail Therapy designed and curated a two floor space for the bottom levels of a condominium so that retail, when integrated to a vertical community, could be beneficial and accessible to the community inside and outside of the building. They listed the priorities that needed to be considered when designing and created a model to show their findings.


      Team RETAIL THERAPY Hack’ Prototype

      Get Badges for Accessibility

      The badges issued by BIG IDeA recognize the commitment of a business organization in the creation of an inclusive business environment. To get a badge business organizations are invited to submit a self-assessment questionnaire on accessibility Attitudes, Values and Leadership:

      Any organization may choose to apply for one or more BIG IDeA Accessibility Badges. Completing any badge self-assessment application will result in an Aware badge for that accessibility area. Organizations who have been thinking about and working on accessibility can also earn Bronze, Silver, or Gold badges. A Bronze, Silver, and Gold are issued based exclusively on the supporting evidence submitted upon request to support your application.

      Attitudes, Values and Leadership

      An accessible business takes ownership and leadership for accessibility activities that go beyond compliance with legislation such as in removing attitudinal barriers toward disability communities; understanding and celebrating the values they can bring to society and participating onto the development of a more inclusive culture. Apply now to get a badge in this area.


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