National competition encourages students to create an accessible future

Brock University students have the chance to help create a culture of accessibility in Canada through a national competition.

The Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA), a student competition created by Universities Canada, invites all university students to develop innovative and unique, cost-effective, creative and practical solutions to accessibility barriers for people with disabilities.

The University’s Human Rights and Equity (HRE) team is facilitating Brock’s involvement in the competition as they have in past years.

“One of Brock’s strategic pillars is to foster a culture of inclusivity, accessibility, reconciliation and decolonization,” said Alison Rothwell, Accessibility and Inclusion Advisor, HRE. “We know students across campus have innovative concepts, programs and designs that address accessibility and inclusion issues. This award provides those students with a tremendous opportunity to showcase their ideas that address everyday accessibility issues and help to remove barriers by creating a more inclusive and accessible culture in our community.”

IDeA was created to support student ideas that can have a direct contribution to the creation of a culture of accessibility in Canada. Through this competition, students are encouraged to think critically about accessibility issues and ways in which to include accessibility in their creation of social and technological innovations.

This year’s competition has four categories for students to enter: attitudinal and systemic barriers; architectural and industrial design barriers; technological and communication barriers; and new this year, virtual learning and distance education.

“As students across the country are embracing a virtual and distance learning environment, awareness has grown with respect to some of the inherent barriers to accessibility online learning has,” said Maureen Connolly, Professor of Kinesiology and Chair of the Anti-Ableism and Mental Health Committee. “The selection committee will be excited to see what innovations students may have in the virtual learning and distance education category.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IDeA competition in 2020 was deferred and will be integrated into the 2021 competition. To accommodate last year’s entries in this year’s competition, there will be 12 winning groups who will receive prize money to help their ideas come to life, as opposed to the usual nine.

Four projects will be awarded the first-place prize of $5,000; four projects will be awarded the second-place prize of $1,500, and four projects will receive the third-place prize of $1,000.

The annual competition is open to all undergraduate and graduate students attending a Canadian university. Brock’s internal deadline to enter is Jan. 15.

For more information and application details, visit Brock’s HRE website.

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