In their second term of the READi program, students work in groups on Action Team Projects (ATPs), an 8-month interdisciplinary learning experience, through a project focused on real-world accessibility issues, identified by an external READi partner. Students work closely with external partners, learning how to employ co-design rather than a traditional designer-client relationship. In their ATPs, READi students are not expected to fully solve complex accessibility issues. Instead, they help move the needle forward, narrowing the gap presented by accessibility issues, while participating in a journey of learning.

Action Teams present their work at the READi Retreat in the spring and the READi Symposium in the fall. Groups outline what they have learned about accessibility, personal revelations, issues and opportunities, as well as their ideas and concepts.

2022-2023 Cohort

Radical Connections

Team Members: Manya Kakkar, Pallavi Sodhi, Justine Walker

Project Summary: For our Action Team Project, we worked with Radical Connections, which is an organization dedicated to improving care and strengthening the community by bringing People in Care (PICs) and artists together through interactive performances. Since Radical Connection currently uses a number of administrative tools, our problem statement was how to make the scheduling and booking system more accessible for a variety of individuals who have intersecting disabilities, and foster agency and independence through ease of use. We also wanted to focus on points of connection and collaboration between the artists and PICs. Hence to solve this, our project focused on designing an application to seamlessly facilitate bookings and connections between PICs and artists. The project’s initial phase encompassed gathering requirements, followed by receiving comprehensive competitive analysis from Jumping Elephants, and then doing interviews with a performing artist, a resident and a recreational therapist affiliated with Radical Connections which provided valuable insights. These interviews unveiled four pivotal themes. Based on the findings, we created User Personas, User Flow, and Journey Maps for both PICs and artists to guide our designs. In the end, we created wireframes for the design of the application, which will inform the developmental phase in the future.

The Dementia Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County

Team Members: Hannah Cooke, Shaghayegh Kalantari, Alexis McCreath Frangakis, Amelia Zaiane

Project Summary: Our READi Action Team Project collaborated with the Dementia Society of Ottawa & Renfrew County (DSORC) to explore the integration of devices from their ‘ADAPT’ (Alzheimer’s and Dementia Aging in Place through Technology) program into the lives of people living with dementia and their caregivers. Aiming to efficiently allow for the introduction of new technology, the objective of the project focused on how to reconfigure devices into the DSORC space for community members (both caregivers and people living with dementia) to naturally experience them firsthand. The project consisted of four phases, namely Planning, Methodology, Data Collection, and Findings Analysis. Thorough planning and insightful interviews were conducted with caregivers responsible for people living with dementia. These interviews provided valuable insights that informed our subsequent recommendations. In analyzing our findings, three major themes emerged: Technology to Enhance Safety, Raising Awareness among caregivers about available options, and Active Demonstration. Notable recommendations encompassed considering devices aligned closely with both caregivers’ requirements and those affected by dementia: adjusting placement strategies accordingly, implementing clearer labelling techniques, and organizing engaging workshops on utilizing these technologies effectively. By integrating display of the ADAPT devices more naturally and seamlessly into the space, the hope is that more interaction between the community members and the devices will occur, leading to raised awareness of the program, and higher levels of access to the use of these devices.

Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work

Team Members: Farah El-Saway, Sayyed Hossein Sadat Hosseini, Yi Luo, Glenda Watson-Hyatt

Project Summary: Canadians living with speech disabilities face multiple barriers to employment and workplace accommodations; leaving them dependent, isolated and unfulfilled. Working with the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work (CCRW), the research team recruited, screened and interviewed five employees with speech disabilities with the aim to better understand the barriers they face and identify gaps in employing them. The semi-structured qualitative questions centered around understanding potential barriers to employment and the factors influencing participants’ career trajectories; exploring work relations and relationship building; examining participants’ experiences with advancement, promotions, and the application of universal design principles; and, inviting participants to share concerns and wishes in relation to the recruitment, hiring, retention, and promotion processes. The findings will serve to inform the continuous improvement of CCRW’s resources, and services for supporting employees with speech disabilities.

2021-2022 Cohort

BEING Studio

Team Members: Mackenzie Collins, Kessler Douglas, Saman Karim, Sydney van Engelen

Project Summary: In this project, this team worked with various members of the BEING Studio community to develop a series of recommendations for a potential artist portal.

Abilities Centre

Team Members: Georgia Loewen, Eman El-Fayomi, Alicia Ouskine 

Project Summary: The chosen direction for the project was to conduct focus groups and interviews to help inform Abilities Centre on how to create accessibility-centered social media content. 

2020-2021 Cohort

Brightspace & READ

Team Members: Mauricio Ledon Dian, Cathy Malcolm Edwards, Aryan Golshan, Masoud Karimi, Sami Nassif Lachapelle, Max Polzin

Project Summary: As part of the implementation of a new learning management system, the project explored how to make virtual classroom experiences more accessible. Working with two campus partners, the team used observational research, focus groups, interviews, and secondary data analysis to capture the main, recurring themes regarding barriers to coursework engagement for students and instructors in Brightspace. The research continues as part of the Coordinated Accessibility Strategy on-campus and will inform the development of resources for more accessible virtual classrooms.

Ottawa Art Gallery – Art Talks

Team Members: Jack Hui Litster, Sarah Moore, Andre Raffla, Missy Thomas

Project Summary: This READi team looked at the phone-in art program for seniors, “Art Talks” to identify the program’s strengths and potential opportunities. They conducted interviews and found common themes to provide specific recommendations for the future of the program.

Ottawa Art Gallery – Creative Space

Team Members: Adrian Bolesnikov, Keyanna Coghlan, Mahmut Erdemli, Sophie Nakashima

Project Summary: READi students studied the impact of the change to online delivery of the wellness-centred art program Creative Space due to the pandemic. They investigated the program’s accessibility and effectiveness for participants and facilitators. Through interviews and a survey, the team put together recommendations for improving the program’s accessibility.

The Dementia Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County

Team Members: Lauren Tierney, Leon Lu, Jonathan Kulpa

Project Summary: The main objective of this project was to understand the space requirements and develop design considerations for the various employees, service providers, stakeholders, and clients of the Dementia Society. They explored the past and future potential experiences of individuals using the Dementia Society space and services through co-design workshops to identify their values and potential areas for opportunity and provided design guidelines to foster accessibility and inclusivity through taking a Human-centred Design approach.

2019-2020 Cohort

Computer Wise

Team Members: Samantha Schneider, Daren Dzumhur, Yousef Bader, Mahdokht Golmohammadi

Project Summary: Tasked with supporting ComputerWise, this READi team utilized their skills as support for the organization’s expansion efforts. Based on the current global pandemic environment it was determined in collaboration with ComputerWise to pursue the creation of a research toolkit intended to support ComputerWise staff in quickly and efficiently planning the makerspace, as well as facilitating methods of direct involvement for ComputerWise clients in the design process. The design kit consists of four parts, each specifically geared toward understanding an important aspect of ComputerWise that may influence the changes made through the expansion process. These four parts include the 3D model activity, the culture collage, the skill share activity, and the analysis kit. The hope and intention of the research kit is to aid ComputerWise in creating an inclusive and integrative makerspace within the facility space that positively supports the needs and experiences of the staff, clients, and organization.

The Dementia Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County

Team Members: Michael Botros, Kayla Daigle, Federica de Sisto, Brendan Kent

Project Summary: READi students conducted research through a literature review and online survey to better understand the gap in accessing resources by young caregivers of people living with dementia. Some of the key findings of this survey suggested the creation of a one-stop hub for information and services, including more culturally appropriate resources, more flexible scheduling for meetings and activities, and using social media (Facebook groups in particular) to exchange ideas and build community. This research was conducted exclusively online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which highlighted the possibilities of expanding online resources as a means to facilitate access to caregiver support. These and other findings are consonant with the literature and suggest that optimization of communication, especially at primary points of care or referral, are crucial to successful and healthy caregiving.

Kingston Circus Arts

Team Members: Carla Ayukawa, Kelly Lynn Hill Brannen, Gabriele Cimolino, Roderick Spender

Project Summary: This READi team observed analyzed workshops and interviews with Kingston Circus Arts to find common themes in teaching accessibility to coaches in Circus Arts. They then designed instructive posters to accompany the organization’s accessibility manual to illustrate how these teachings can be put into practice.

Seniors Watch Old Ottawa South

Team Members: Dawson Clark, Neda Fayazi, Pascale Juneau

Project Summary: In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, this group of READi students looked at how physical distancing might be affecting seniors in the Old Ottawa South community. Through working with their ATP partner and collecting data from community pillars and members, they provided recommendations for the organization to combat lack of access to the internet, difficulties with technology training, limited awareness of opportunities, lack of confidence, and lack of desire to engage virtually among seniors.

2018-2019 Cohort

Computer Wise

Team Members: Emma Farago, Hasti Khiabiani, Connor McGuirk

Project Summary: ComputerWise is an organization that seeks to foster computer-based employment readiness and skills for adults with physical and/or developmental disabilities. The objective was to assess ComputerWise for accessibility, and identify points of strength and challenges that ComputerWise clients face. READi students conducted open-ended interviews with present and past ComputerWise clients to learn about their motivations, favourite activities, goals, and challenges. They found that clients overwhelmingly felt positive about ComputerWise and recommended future work to continue building client confidence and increase networking to build community relationships.

Ottawa Art Gallery

Team Members: Patricia Berube, Jacob Booth, Emily Harmsen, Cynthia Morawski

Project Summary: This group of READi students worked to improve the accessibility of the OAG’s website. They also considered best practices to develop a more user friendly and accessible archive database interface. Through a literature review, as well as a review of the online presence of galleries around the world, they were able to develop recommendations to make the OAG’s physical and online space more accessible to people with a wide range of disability presentations.

Oasis Senior Support Living Program

Team Members: Katie Van Til, Caryn Vowles

Project Summary: The Oasis program is designed to support seniors living within their own homes and keeping their independence. The members of the Oasis program determine the types of activities and events held within their building. The main goal of the program is to foster connections among seniors, especially those at risk of social isolation. The focus of the Action Team Project was to evaluate the environment that the Oasis program provides and how it incorporates social engagement and individual well-being into the lives of members. Through reflective journaling and interviews, READi students were able to identify the qualities that make the Oasis environment engaging and collaborative, highlighting the importance of communication and the value of keeping people who are aging safe within their own homes.  The participants become inventors of their own accessible methods, based on necessity. The project also identified areas for further research, suggesting follow up interviews to better identify how and which interactions occur outside the comfort of the residents’ own homes and a thorough qualitative evaluation of the journals kept by the researchers.

2017-2018 Cohort

Canadian Science and Technology Museum

Team Members: Elizabeth Hoskin, Adrian Schneider, Aditi Singh, Nicola Oddy

Project Summary: The goal of this project was to access and share insights for improving the museum’s accessibility for people with autism, aimed to determine what barriers people with autism face when accessing the museum, what accessibility features facilitate or could facilitate their access, and examine the effectiveness of exhibits. Through observation and interviews, the team provided recommendations to the museum.

Bruyere Hospital

Team Members: Nicholas Berezny, Maham Farooq, Alicia Gal, Ebic Tristary

Project Summary: This group of READi students investigated the accessibility of Arts & Wellness activities at Saint-Vincent long-term care hospital through observation and interviews. With the help of Jesse Stewart, they brought an accessible music session to the hospital which engaged the residents with a variety of interactive instruments, including the AUMI. The project found that providing one-on-one sessions to bed-bound patients who could not access the common space improved accessibility. They also learned the importance of spreading awareness for accessible programs and technology.

For further information or questions about the READi Action Team Projects, contact