(Toronto—January 19, 2010) The Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) and Toronto Community Housing, with Toronto Mayor David Miller, today announced a new partnership aimed at promoting accessible, inclusive design in social housing buildings while enriching student experience in applied design research.
As Ontario’s public sector gears up for forthcoming legislation aimed at transforming the province into a fully accessible society through the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), OCAD and Toronto Community Housing have come together to research strategies for addressing accessibility in the social housing context.
This partnership is an important step towards improving access for Toronto Community Housing residents while engaging young designers with the principles of universal/inclusive design, a field with immeasurable growth opportunities.
“The City of Toronto is committed to making the physical environment of our city accessible for all Torontonians, including the tenants living in social housing,” said Mayor David Miller. “This partnership is a great example of how public sector institutions can partner with leading thinkers and institutions to develop creative solutions around important issues like accessibility. I applaud OCAD and Toronto Community Housing for creating this innovative partnership that will serve as a model for future design initiatives in Toronto.”
“This is a mutually beneficial partnership,” explains OCAD President Sara Diamond. “OCAD and Toronto Community Housing will collaborate in projects that will provide our undergraduate and graduate students with rich opportunities in applied design research, specifically in the areas of inclusive/universal design strategies and processes. The outcomes of this research could be used to develop strategies for implementing accessible design in the public housing context, which will benefit Toronto Community Housing’s stakeholders.”
“This research partnership will move Toronto Community Housing closer to a future in which all tenants and staff, including those with disabilities, are able to fully participate in all aspects of community life,” said Keiko Nakamura, Acting CEO of Toronto Community Housing. “Building great neighbourhoods isn’t something that happens in a vacuum. We count on our partners to help us deliver on our commitment to creating safe and healthy communities.”
OCAD students will engage in this applied research using an existing Toronto Community Housing building as a case study. The research will focus on 275 Shuter Street in the Moss Park community. Students will work to capture data and information about how residents and users engage with the facility, and use the facility to test a variety of inclusive design strategies.
Building on the support that will come from OCAD’s existing expertise in inclusive design, the partnership will engage a rich complement of academic and professional advisors and research consultants from Canada and the United States and invite them to share their expertise on specific projects.
Toronto Community Housing will also form an advisory group of tenants and staff and host sessions at the building to give tenants the opportunity to provide input.
“Our goal is to build a foundation of research that will be critical in meeting the requirements of the AODA legislation, and will help lead new innovation to meet Ontario’s goal to become a fully accessible society,” said Diamond.
About Toronto Community Housing
Toronto Community Housing (www.torontohousing.ca) is Canada’s largest social housing provider and home to more than 164,000 tenants with low and moderate incomes – about six per cent of the City of Toronto’s population. Toronto Community Housing employs 1,400 staff in a broad range of jobs who deliver its mandate to provide quality housing and build great neighbourhoods. Toronto Community Housing is one of Canada’s 2009 Top 100 Employers.
About the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD)
The Ontario College of Art & Design (www.ocad.ca) is Canada’s “university of the imagination.” OCAD is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. The university is building on its traditional, studio-based strengths, adding new approaches to learning that champion cross-disciplinarity, collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies. In the Age of Imagination, OCAD community members will be uniquely qualified to act as catalysts for the next advances in culture, technology and quality of life for all Canadians.
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