The concept behind READ began at Carleton in the 1980’s when the first services for students with disabilities were initiated leading to the creation of the Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities. With a growing population of students with disabilities attending university, issues of accessibility were abundant, and collaboration between the PMC and Carleton Science and Technology Centre led to the development of a number of individual accessibility solutions. The concept has been quietly continuing since that time.

In 2011, a small group of Carleton faculty and staff received approval from senior management through a Carleton Innovation Forum grant, to explore the concept of a centre or institute dedicated to Research, Education, Accessibility and Design. The READ Institute concept included academic program development in disability/accessibility studies and an emphasis across all disciplines at Carleton on creating solutions to accessibility issues facing individual with disabilities. While the concept of academic programming is still being explored, the university is moving forward separately on the solutions based approach by announcing the creation of the READ Initiative.

The initiative will support research and projects on accessibility in all disciplines and non academic units across the university. READ will develop partnerships and collaborations with community groups in the disability field, providing students with experiential learning opportunities, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, giving theme greater access to academic and community expertise. The initiative is being led by the faculty of Engineering and Design, but will extend its influence to all academic units and service departments at Carleton.