Innovative designs for accessibility competition

Illustration of an open hand holding a light bulb. Innovative Designs for Accessibility. Innovations pour l'accessibilité.

The Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA) student competition challenges university students across Canada to use their creativity to develop innovative, cost-effective and practical solutions to accessibility barriers for people with disabilities. The objectives of the program are:

  • to contribute to the creation of a culture of accessibility in Canada
  • to motivate students to think about accessibility issues and to include accessibility in their creation of social and technological innovations now and in the future
  • to develop cost-effective, practical and innovative concepts, programs, initiatives or designs that address everyday accessibility issues

Update on 2020 competition

Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and widespread impacts on communities and universities across the country, Universities Canada will defer the IDeA 2020 student competition deadline until further notice. This decision follows extensive discussion with our funders and stakeholders. A decision on the new competition deadline will be made later this year and shared on our webpage and social media accounts. 

To support the many students who have already devoted time and effort to their projects: 

  • All submissions for the 2020 competition can be modified until the new deadline (when announced). 
  • All students who were eligible for the 2020 competition will continue to be eligible, regardless of enrollment status, for the fall 2020 term. 
  • The competition submission portal will remain open. 

We are truly inspired by the ingenuity of IDeA competition submissions and encourage students to continue developing their ideas and designs, working in collaboration with persons with disabilities to tackle accessibility challenges, and to use their skills and talent to build a more inclusive Canada.  

If you have questions about the IDeA student competition, please contact 

Who is eligible?

  • Students currently enrolled in any postsecondary program at a university which has recognized provincial degree-granting power, or their affiliates (Note: All students who were eligible for the 2020 competition will continue to be eligible, regardless of enrollment status, for the fall 2020 term.)
  • Students in all programs including architecture, arts, business, computer science, early childhood education, engineering, industrial design, medicine, nursing, political science, psychology, sociology, social work, etc. are welcome to apply

How to apply

Students must be nominated by a university representative (faculty or administration) before submitting their project to the IDeA 2020 student competition.

  1. To nominate a student or student team, the university representative must create an account at; university representatives who have previously nominated a student will simply need to log into the system using their email address and password.
  2. University representatives must provide the student’s name and email address for each project endorsed. If a team is being nominated, one student will be named as the team delegate. The university representative will receive an email confirmation once the nomination has been submitted. 
  3. Once nominated, the student will receive an email inviting them to complete the submission form. The student will receive a confirmation email when the submission has been successfully completed.  

2020 Program Guidelines

(Please refer to the “Update on 2020 competition” for changes to these guidelines.)


First place – Three prizes of $5,000

Students who finish in first place will receive $5,000 and all expenses paid trip to showcase their project at a national conference.

Second place – Three prizes of $1,500

Third place – Three prizes of $1,000

Engineering students at UBC built a custom wheelchair frame out of state of the art chromoly. This innovation allowed me to exponentially increase my speed and propelled me to new levels that I could not have imagined before.

2019 competition winners

Nine university students and student teams were winners of the national 2019 Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA) competition for their work to reduce accessibility barriers on their campuses and in their communities.

Read the announcement of the 2019 IDeA winners

Meet the winners of the 2019 IDeA competition


Are you an organization interested in innovation and accessibility? Would you like to become a partner of the IDeA program?

Get involved

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With the support of:

Universities Canada administers the IDeA student competition, a national program on behalf of Employment and Social Development Canada.

Canadian Academy of Engineering logo

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Universities Canada