Universal Design

A circular graphic that highlights the domains of innovation for this project

In order to create a university that is universally accessible, it is crucial to ensure all areas of the student experience are accessible to every student from the outset of their time at the university to their graduation and beyond.  

With a population of over 93,000 students at the university of Toronto, this task is a challenge. It involves considering the experiences of all students, including students with different levels of ability, learning needs, and identified disabilities.  

What are students’ diverse needs and how could they be better met at the university of Toronto in order to make it universally accessible? 

Three icons of individuals connected by a circle, with a key in the middle.

Access for Every Student

All students have equitable access to programs, services, resources, and spaces.


Using open-ended questions, we focused on individual experiences of being a student with a disability, along with the barriers and supports that they received. By listening to and learning about these students’ experiences in greater depth, we sought to understand different access needs and how they could be better met such that the university could be made accessible to every student. In other words, how can UofT be designed to be universally accessible?

Centering students with disabilities at the university benefits everyone’s learning. The current barriers that students face in their learning and in seeking accessibility support are rooted in the current university-wide approach. This approach makes accessibility a secondary matter as opposed to building it centrally into university design. We found this key finding in three themes:

  1. Learning About Diverse Needs
  2. Learning About Barriers
  3. Learning About Support

Universal design at UofT aims to center all students, thereby creating an inclusive, accessible, and equitable environment that works with all students.

Theme visual representing the themes - which is visualized through lego pieces interconnecting with one another

Research Team

Johanna Pokorny

Johanna Pokorny

Amal smiling to the camera, wearing a black and light pink outfit.

Amal Yusuf

Rosemarie Shephard

Rosemarie Shephard

team photo

Sharon Allman

Ngoné smiling at the camera in professional headshot

Ngoné Lo

Design & Communications Team

Kaitlyn wearing long pink earrings, standing infront of a brick wall

Kaitlyn Corlett

Gianina smiling to the camera infront of a dark grey background

Gianina Ramos


Cody Foo