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Inclusive Design (MDes)

Offering graduate students a unique opportunity to become global leaders in the emerging field of inclusive design in information and communication technologies (ICT) and practices.

Tools from OCAD University's Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) labs. Photo by Christina Gapic.

Kate Sellen

Kate Sellen used to work as an interactions designer for tax and banking systems. Then, her dad got sick. Sellen’s dad waited six months to get into hospital with an aneurysm and she had to intervene and act as his advocate “This lead me to think what can we do differently here,” she says.

Sellen switched fields to focus on design for healthcare and inclusive design. “At OCAD U, I can engage with designers and healthcare specialists to make things happen,” she says.

In OCAD U’s Strategic Foresight and Innovation graduate program, Sellen teaches how to design from a human perspective.

Sellen also advises students on thesis projects – she focuses on techniques on bringing people into the design process. “Co-design is so important,” she says. “Traditional design privileges the designer but co-design democratizes the process and privileges the people you’re trying to help.”

Sellen is now working on design techniques for understanding end of life needs. She’s exploring how medical professionals and families can communicate better across distances. Sellen is working with Saint Elizabeth to help caregivers get people talking about the information needed at end of life.

Sellen’s also working on a typeface project around alternative displays of type. She’s developing algorithms to distort typefaces to make the shapes of words appear differently to help people avoid mistakes in medication names, and for people with diverse vision and language needs.

Learn more about Sellen’s professional experience and publications.

Geoffrey Shea

Geoffrey Shea is currently creating a series of video profiles for Akimbo with his son who has cerebral palsy. “My experience with inclusive design stems from knowing my son’s experiences of non-inclusivity,” says Shea.

Shea teaches a summer intensive course exploring art methodologies to enhance the design of inclusive solutions. He brings the ideas of art to inclusive design.

Shea’s focus is digital media, video and installation. His artwork has been exhibited widely and was featured at two recent Nuit Blanches in Toronto and the exhibition “Talk to Me” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

“I support the principles of inclusivity,” says Shea. “The road to making the world more accessible is by changing attitudes more than building ramps. And, changing those attitudes is a big part of this program’s objectives.” Shea focuses on the role of artists to change attitudes.

Shea has worked extensively with artists with disabilities including organizing artist residencies in the past. “We celebrate cultural differences and understand these differences enrich us,” says Shea. “But disabilities are about integration – ‘I’m blind but I can do whatever you can’. This sweeps differences under the rug instead of embracing them. Artists with disabilities can help us celebrate these differences.”

Learn more about Shea’s professional experience.



Dina Anker

Dina is an Ojibway woman and mother originally from Thunder Bay, Ontario. She moved to Toronto in 1998 and now calls it home. Her background ranges from web design and development to learning management support, both technically and pedagogically. She has a whimsical sense of creativity both personally and professionally. Dina's initial interest in the MDes program is in promoting cultural and inclusive educational opportunities in education. She plans to promote and advocate accessibility, assistive technologies and inclusion opportunities for the Aboriginal communities across Canada, including indigenous cultures worldwide. Her primary focus is developing inclusive and accessible instructional design process. She is looking forward to learning from collaborating with the program's talented, diverse, driven and ambitious students.

Geordie Graham

Geordie started his education at the University of Waterloo, focusing on international studies. During his time as an undergrad, he was drawn into disability advocacy through his campus diversity campaign. At the same time, he got a position administering a student benefit plan and became keenly aware of the barriers people with disabilities face when getting access to services. Geordie started to focus on the ways in which information communications technology (ICT) can be used to both remove barriers and improve the participation of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in our society. During his studies at OCAD U, he is exploring the concept of the disabled as the designer. Specifically, he is interested in exploring the idea of empowering PWDs to design ICT systems can be customized to improved digital inclusion and enhance personal expression and creativity.


Rushmita Alam

Rushmita is a dedicated and goal-driven professional  educator  in the field of fashion, with a solid commitment to the social and academic growth and development of fashion. Raised in Japan and educated in Canada, India and Bangladesh, Rushmita is multinational and confident enough to work and cope with any international environment. Her experience includes working as a fashion designer, fashion choreographer and consultant. She also worked for a long time as the head of the Department of Fashion at BGMEA University of Fashion & Technology. Recently, she had been working on a  British Council research project on  sustainable fashion that brings together  international collaboration between London College of Fashion, BGMEA University & UNIDO. Her other professional activities include working with international organizations such as the European Union, Society of Dyer & Colourist and the International Foundation of Fashion technology Institute. She hopes that by blending research, education and practical experience, her OCAD U research can help the world to build a path towards better sustainable practices.

Rickee Charbonneau

Rickee is a recent graduate of the Digital Futures undergraduate program at OCAD U. As a digital media designer, Rickee is especially interested in the use of new and upcoming technologies (e.g., 3D printing, wearable technology, game design) to creatively solve challenges. Rickee’s recently finished prototype, AmpGear, is a 3D printed prosthetic hand with interchangeable attachments. It aims to completely shift the paradigm of limb replacement from the current, strictly bound and nearly obsessive aim to replicate hand function, towards an open discourse of prostheses as accessory tools. This project involves the use of 3D printing technology to allow for the prosthetic hand and its attachments to be quickly and cheaply printed at home with a desktop 3D printer, such as the Makerbot, or through a local 3D printing service. Rickee’s current research interest is in eHealth and mHealth applications and how they can be more inclusively designed to then be more broadly adopted by users.

Jennifer Greenhorn

Dennis Lagman

Dennis graduated from the University of Manitoba with a BComm in 2005.  He started his career as an online marketing specialist within the financial sector, and during this time found that his true passion was on the design and development side of online technologies and software products. Recognizing that he ultimately wanted to be involved in this field, Dennis transitioned into a career in product management and user-experience design in 2008. For the last six years, he's been managing the product roadmap and setting the UX design deliverables for software products within the recruitment industry. Drawn to the Inclusive Design program at OCAD U, Dennis is looking forward to increasing his understanding of inclusive recruitment and talent management practices, which will ultimately become the foundation for designing digital technologies that reduce the risk of implicit biases affecting the selection of talent.

Jingyi Lai

Jingyi, called Fairy by her cohorts here,recently graduated from Sun Yat-sen University in China with a FA focusing on graphic design.She also has experience working as a planning assistant in an advertising company in Tokyo, assisting other employees with data collecting, market research and graphic design. In this program, she wants to explore her interests as well as improving herself comprehensively. She is here to meet different people, experience different cultures and do different design. Fairy has a great interest in illustration and learning about it. She is also keen on Japanese culture, so she is looking forward to conduct some research related to culture inclusion and media inclusion.

Yu Lin

Yu graduated with a BA in art and design from Renmin University of China. He is a user-experience designer who has worked in the internet industry for the past five years. Yu is also an artist and an entrepreneur at heart who continually seeks to build connections between philosophy, art and design and innovative technology. In 2008, he started a cultural company, which aimed to develop and transmit Chinese culture and lifestyle with art and design. After that, he worked in Baidu as a senior user experience designer. Yu has been directly involved in 20 Internet products, including Baidu Big Search, Baidu Knows, Baidu Encyclopedia, Baidu Map, Baidu Library and Baidu Travel. These products have improved the user experience to various dimensions and obtained excellent user-data feedback.In addition to his work, Yu Lin is a Fengshui master and skateboarder. With all these interests, Yu has been able to remain mobile and engaged in his design work. He intends to explore inclusive design more deeply throughout his graduate studies.

Chengyi Lu

Mohsen Mahjoobnia

Mohsen, or "M," is an Iranian designer, photographer and film-maker. He studied visual merchandising art at Seneca College and earned a BA in professional graphic design at Limkokwing University, Malaysia. M is passionate about neuroscience and installation art. He loves to create documentaries and his goal is to reach for a better world, a more accessible a more joyful life for all, one small step at a time. M has worked in several countries, positions and devoted volunteer, from customer service in a travel agency to managing advertisement campaigns. During his time at IDRC, he focused on subjects such as accessible study tools and research regarding brain activity and visual perception.

Nancy McQueen

Nancy has a BA in economics and psychology and an MBA from York University. She did two years of a degree program in interior design at Ryerson University, but left before obtaining her degree. Nancy is a chartered professional accountant and a group benefits associate designation. Before she took early retirement from Ontario Power Generation (OPG), she held manager-level positions in employee benefits, pensions, tax and payroll.  She designed and implemented benefits programs that applied to nearly 20,000 employees and pensioners, and managed a payroll system of over $2 billion/year. Before joining Ontario Hydro, the predecessor to OPG, she had a lot of varied jobs, including internal communications for a professional institute, assistant book buyer, communications officer at a university, photographer, librarian, and medical receptionist. Currently, Nancy is the treasurer for her condominium association and for University Settlement. Nancy is also a prize-winning author of short mystery fiction, and is working on an illustrated mystery novel.  As a result of severe osteoarthritis, she uses a mobility scooter for travel around downtown Toronto, where she lives. This has led her to a passionate interest in mobility challenges, including architectural and urban design of spaces to be shared by pedestrians and mobility support vehicles, and in outdoor spaces, with other wheeled vehicles of various types and sizes, as well as the design of everyday support services and equipment. She is also interested in infrastructure support for mobility support vehicles, and health and social policy related to mobility issues. 

Elizabeth Morris

Elizabeth Morris is a professional deaf actor, American Sign Language coach/consultant for theatre and film and an elementary teacher. She was born in England and has also lived in Japan and the United States. As a teenager, Elizabeth was part of the Young Scholars’ Program at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. It is the only liberal arts university for the deaf in the world. She became part of a touring theatre of the deaf, “Quest for Arts,” in Washington, DC, during which time she performed in Romania, South Africa, Japan, Australia and Mexico. Later, she returned to study as an undergraduate at Gallaudet and graduated with a BA in elementary education and educational drama. Elizabeth was also a member of The National Theatre of the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut. Growing up with a hard-of-hearing brother and also a deaf autistic brother, Elizabeth has always been keenly aware that no two people with a hearing loss are exactly the same. Accessibility to theatre and media presents different challenges for each person with a hearing loss, and the problem of accessibility in these areas is something she would like to address in her graduate research.

Amita Pharshy

Deepshikha Sharma

Deepshikha is an international student from India. With BDes from the National Institute of Fashion Technology, specializing in fashion and lifestyle accessories, she focused on material handling (metal, glass, stone, wood), fashion marketing and graphic design. Deepshikha also worked as a graphic designer for a retail brand and online fashion brand in India, in media marketing (both print and web) and on brand imaging and advertising campaigns. Her main inclination is towards product design, targeting the mobility and environmental accessibility issue for people with disabilities.

Taliesin Smith

Taliesin's interest in technology and inclusion began in a small hacker space in Amsterdam where she and couple of girlfriends decided to start teaching other women how to build their own computers ( As a result of this project, Taliesin embarked on a new career as a front-end web developer. For the past five years, Taliesin has worked in online education coding large amounts of university course content for online delivery. She developed a mini front-end framework to build course websites for herself and her colleagues. Taliesin's research interest focuses on web accessibility, specifically in the area of front-end web frameworks. Taliesin is also very interested in inclusive policy and policy adoption processes, and looking forward to learning so much about inclusion and accessibility from her classmates. She will be studying remotely from Canada's most eastern provincial capital, St. John's.

Vanessa Vilic Evangelista

Caren Watkins

Jacob Willow

Jeffery Woodrow

Songfeng (Koni) Xie

Songfeng graduated from NWPU with a BEng in industrial design. Songfeng's goal is to become a designer with practical skills and an artisan spirit. She believes a designer who knows the relationship between exclusive design and inclusive design can be a game changer in the inclusive design community. Songfeng is also an animal lover who ran a stray-cat rescue plan base on social media in China for three years, rescued over 50 cats and helped them to find new homes by using social media. In order to do this, Songfeng combined graphic design principles in photography and added graphic design elements in the post-production process. She enjoys learning new things, trying new technology and discovering new paths in the field of design.

Yu Zhang


Afruza Alam

Kaveh Ashourinia

Monique Desnoyers

Keshia Godin

Chad Lesch

Sadegh Mahjoobnia

Nellai Manickvasagam Arumuganain

Alwar graduated from Symbiosis Institute of Design, India in Communication Design, specialising in User Experience Design. She was drawn to the field as it involved making applications according to requirements of users. The field gave a perfect balance of analytical and creative thinking. After completing her course, Alwar went on to working in the industry as a UX designer. She had the opportunity to work on multiple projects in the span of 10 months, designing websites, portals in the field of travel, project management and inventory management. Her role in the project was to design the information architecture, task flows,wireframes and prototypes for the application. She worked with teams ranging from 5-30 people. She learnt the value of punctuality, communication and the responsibility of managing a team. She also learnt the importance of her role as a designer and the loop holes in the process currently in the industry. Alwar chose to go back to school to strengthen her foundation in UCD (user centric design) and develop a holistic approach to designing products. Alwar was fascinated by the Inclusive design program at OCAD U as it makes applications accessible and usable for a diverse range of users. She is looking forward to learning and collaborating with a diverse group of motivated individuals inspired to bring change in their respective fields.

Hana Park

Ather Shabbar

Anna Stranks

Anna Stranks is Principal of STUDIO A Design Collaborative, a design firm focused on Human Centered Design Solutions. Her portfolio of work includes design in national and international markets for corporate, large scale residential, Institutional, and healthcare sectors. In 1998 Anna received ARIDO’s Gold Award for Designer of the Year.

Anna is a LEED Accredited Professional, actively involved in promoting sustainable design as well as universal design principals to interior environments. She has been a guest speaker at IIDEX on the subject of LEED on behalf of the CAGBC and on Healthy Environments sponsored by Azure Magazine.

As a registered member of ARIDO and IDC, Anna has held a past role as President of the ARIDO GTA Chapter and has participated on ARIDO’s Continuing Education Committee as a course reviewer. In 2006, She represented ARIDO and Canadian practitioners on a task force to help develop a Masters Program for Interior Designers across North America. Anna was a founding team member of ART x Designers Exhibition (AXD).

After graduating from Ryerson School of Interior Design (RSID) and recognizing the importance of knowledge sharing, Anna has been a part-time instructor at RSID and is currently an adjunct professor at Humber College School of Applied Technology. She has participated on the RSID Advisory Council from 2002 to 2005 as President and Chair of Strategic Planning and currently participates on the Advisory Board at Humber College.

Deidre Tomlinson

Deidre (often introduced as Dee) has a colourful sense, both personally and professionally. She has graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Queen’s University and a Bachelor of Urban & Regional Planning from Ryerson University.

Dee has worked at various organizations, during which she has demonstrated comprehensive capabilities in the arts, humanities, and natural/physical sciences. She has also presented work in a range of creative areas, such as music, architecture, and dance.

Overall, Dee’s interests fall within the ‘interactive’ dimension of cities. Using her interdisciplinary background, she advocates for more playfulness and (participatory) public art in urban places. During the course of the MDes Inclusive Design program, Dee hopes to continue exploring the intersection of aesthetics and psychogeography, while developing spaces and experiences via inclusive design strategies.

Kyrie Vala-Webb

Abid Virani

Desiree Walsh

Has a B.A in Philosophy from Brock University as well as a post grad diploma in Human Resources Management from Centennial College. She currently works for the Toronto district School Board as a Temporary Clerical Staff. She is passionate about accessibility and access for all and has been an advocate for making the Toronto District School more accessible for both students and staff. In her spare time she enjoys going to the cottage and spending time with her family’s cat Max

Zheyu Wang

Edgar Wong Baxter Jr.


Most courses will be team taught, engaging experts in the field, researchers in the Inclusive Design Research Centre as well as program faculty members at OCAD U.


Philippe Blanchard, Animation, Drawing & Painting, Digital Media
Annette Blum, Corporate Graphic Design, Wayfinding
Ian Clarke, Sustainability/Biology
Peter Coppin, Inclusive Design, Perceptual-Cognitive Approaches to Design, Visual Art and Design
Maya Desai,
Cheryl Giraudy, Architecture, Research for Inclusive Wayfinding, Facilities Planning
Bruce Hinds, Environmental Design/Architecture
Sandra Kedey, Strategy & Brand Design, Art Direction/Integrated Design, Creative Direction/Convergent Communication
Jana Macalik, Exhibition Design, Interior Design, Design Research
Isabel Mireilles, Information Design, Visualization Communication Design
Gayle Nicoll, Health Design, Environment-based Health Policy and Practice, Human/Environmental Behaviour
Neil Pradhu,
Ryan Rice,
Ala Roushan,
Job Rutgers, Innovation Design
Kate Sellen, Design for Healthcare, Interaction Design, Design Research
Geoffrey Shea, Digital Media, Video Installation, Mobile Media
Adam Tindale, New Interfaces for Musical Expression, Music Technology, Creative Programming
Sarah Tranum, Strategic Design
Jutta Treviranus, Inclusive Design, Inclusive Education, Accessibility
Karin Von Ompteda, Data Visualisation, Typography, Graphic Design
Alia Weston, Creative Entrepreneurship, Social Enterprise and Informal Economy, African and Latin American Management Practices


Alonzo Addison
Lillian Allen
Haim Bresheeth
Sambhavi Chandrashekar
Cristobal Cobo Romani
Leslie Conery
Una Daly
Victoria Dickenson
Mick Donegan
Sher Doruff
Denise Doyle
Brian Duffy
Deborah Fels
Axel Leblois
Jacquelyn Morie
Pauline Murphy
David Pereyra
Patricia Rockman
Jeremi Sudol
Lynne Teather
Stuart Walker
Jeb Weisman
Huw Williams


Ron Baecker
Kathryn Church
Lizbeth Goodman
Clayton Lewis


Anastasia Cheetham, Software developer
Colin Clark, Software
Deborah Fels, Interface design
Greg Gay, Web accessibility
Hajer Chalghoumi, Technology assisted teaching for students with disabilities
James William Yoon, Information systems, computer science
Jan Richards, American sign language
Jorge Silva, Haptic navigation, engineering
Joseph Scheuhammer, E-learning
Justin Obara, Web-user interface
Kevin Stolarick, Information systems, creative economy
Michelle D’Souza, Software
Rhonda McEwen, Mobile technology
Sambhavi Chandrashekar, Accessible design, human-computer interaction
Vera Roberts, E-learning