FLOE to Be a Part of the Center on Inclusive Software for Learning

December 11, 2017

We're pleased to announce that tools and knowledge from FLOE work on inclusive open education will be a part of to the newly-announced Center on Inclusive Software for Learning (CISL) as part of the Inclusive Design Research Centre's partnership on the project.

Led by CAST and funded by the the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs, CISL will support the development of an open-source software suite, industry guidelines and suporting research to ensure K-12 students get engaging personalized learning through Open Education Resources.

We look forward to working with CAST and project partner SRI International on advancing the state of the art in inclusive open education with FLOE!

Self-Assessment Learning Toolkit

August 30, 2017

We have been working on the design and implementation of an inclusive self-assessment toolkit that will engage learners themselves – supported by personalized learning analytics – as aspiring research scientists in the important subject of self-regulation and self-determination. The toolkit will engage a broad spectrum of learners in a self-directed, personalized learning process, by enabling learners to set flexible goals and customizable milestones towards achieving those goals based on their unique needs and preferences.

Recently, the design team has been considering alternate entry points into the toolkit, from highly specific to broad and exploratory. Part of this work has been the exploration of new ways of engaging the learner through customizable “touchnotes”, which would afford the learner a quick and easy manual data collection process. A single data point is collected when a touchnote is selected. This can be combined with inputs from automated data collection sources (e.g. from a weather app or a personal health app, etc.), resulting in a fully personalizable data analysis and self-assessment.

The following images show examples of the designs we are currently developing (select to enlarge):

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Figure 1. A learner can choose to be prompted for more detailed information when they select a touchnote in their personalized collection.

The image shows a collection of square 'touchnotes' buttons on the left with the heading 'Query: When do I feel most clear-headed and focused?'. The touchnotes in the collection include 'Focused', 'Good Idea', 'Meditation', 'Weather', 'Diet', and 'Sleep'. An arrow points from the 'Sleep' touchnote to a dialog box with prompts for more information including 'Time to bed', 'How many hours?', 'Woke up feeling: refreshed/tired', 'Disrupted? Y/N', and an option to add notes to a journal. There is a save button at the bottom of the dialog box.

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Figure 2. Data collected through touch-notes and automated tracking (e.g. weather) is presented back to the learner in a personalized format.

The image shows a column of touchnotes on the left-hand side, some of which have been dragged into a data analysis area in the middle of the screen, where there is a plot showing 4 horizontal and synchronous 'tracks' of touchnote data vs. time. The plot is titled 'Analysis: What is causing my headaches?'. The data plotted in the analysis includes 'Weather', 'Coffee', 'Dairy', and 'Headaches'.

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Figure 3. A wireframe of a mobile interface showing a possible exploratory entry point into the self-assessment toolkit. Choices made on this screen will help to guide the learner in setting up their data collection process, including touchnotes.

The image shows a mobile interface screen with text that states 'Begin by keeping track of one or more of the following:'. This text is followed by a list of checkboxes including: 'Where you go (Places)', 'What you eat (Food), 'What you do (Activities)', and 'How you feel (Mood)'. This list is followed by an option to 'Show me what others have done', with 'Next' and 'Go back' buttons at the bottom of the screen.

Inclusive Science Lab

July 19, 2017

We've been building an integration technology called the Nexus. It allows the interconnection of arbitrary devices by co-ordinating device state over HTTP and WebSockets.

Using the Nexus we have been exploring designs to make science labs more inclusive. We used the Nexus to connect lab sensors, such as pH sensors and electrical conductivity sensors, to a range of different presentations and interactions. This helps a student pick the interaction that works best for them. For some students this might be a visualization and for others it might be a sonification, or a combination of different presentations.

Calum and Miles joined us to try out an inclusive science lab design, and helped us make a video about their experiences:

DEEP Conference 2016

November 30, 2016

On October 13-14, 2016 the DEEP - Discovery conference brought together an international community of over 100 diverse participants to discuss timely, difficult, and engaging topics.

This year’s theme was: “Our Data: Who owns it, who controls it, what can we do with it?”

DEEP 2016 welcomed the participation of four initiatives that each brought essential perspectives to the agenda, namely: international collaboration, platforms for inclusive prosperity, privacy, and life-long learning. The EU project Discovery, the SSHRC supported TIPP consortium, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner supported project on privacy and inclusion, and several open education projects all participated in DEEP 2016. Participation from each of these projects helps to ensure that conversations and plans will be acted upon and the work started at DEEP will continue well beyond the conference.

IIDEX 2016

November 30, 2016

The IDRC participated in the IIDEX National Summit on Accessibility on November 30th, 2016.

This summit focused on appreciating how diverse stakeholders help shape and improve our design.

The summit’s panels focused on two essential issues: Inclusive Play and Policy. The IDRC’s Director, Jutta Treviranus, will lead the Summit.

UN International Day of Persons with Disibilities

November 30, 2016

December 3, 2016 marks the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

IDRC Director Jutta Treviranus will attend events at the UN Headquarters in New York.

To learn more about accessibility rights and legislation in Ontario and in Canada, listen to Episode 3 of the Quantization Podcast.

Upcoming Talks on Inclusive Digital Education

March 28, 2016

IDRC Director Jutta Treviranus will be speaking at the following conferences on topics crossing digital inclusion in education, to rethinking the role of technology in our institutions.

March 2016:

April 2016:

May 2016:

Visit the conference websites for individual times and details.

Accessible Physics Simulations

Nov. 16, 2015

Floe is working with PhET to improve the accessibility of their free, open, interactive physics simulations. Over the past year, we have contributed research, ideas, and evaluations for improvements to two of PhET's simulations: Forces and Motion Basics and John Travoltage.

The PhET team has been working to incorporate our input into a development version of the Forces and Motion: Basics simulation, and is now conducting user tests. Implementation of the new designs for the John Travoltage simulation is planned for December 2015.

From this collaboration with PhET, a guide "Web Games and Simulations" has been added to the Inclusive Learning Design Handbook to help educators create more inclusive and accessible web games and educational simulations.

For the latest work in this area, visit the Inclusivity and Accessibility of Interactive Web Games and Simulations on the Fluid Project Wiki.

Workshop: The Business Advantages of Making Special the Norm

May 8, 2015

The National Business and Disability Council (NBDC) at The Viscardi Center is offering an educational online workshop to focus on designing for diversity.

No one needs to point out that the current business climate is in a state of flux and transformation. To thrive requires a good measure of agility, responsiveness, continuous innovation and dynamic resiliency. These qualities are the by-products of broadly diverse perspectives, skills, and approaches combined with the conditions that foster their inclusion. Fortuitously, emerging technologies and associated practices make it viable to move beyond mass design – in policy, communication, product development, service, marketing, training and other business practices – and make special the norm. If we proactively design for diversity we not only comply with legislative requirements for accessibility but we also reap the benefits of flexibility, adaptability and a spectrum of possible approaches, to thrive in a quickly evolving business climate.

  • Date: May 20, 2015
  • Time: 2:00 – 3:00pm
  • Location: Online, Webinar

The workshop will be presented by Jutta Treviranus, Director of the Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) and professor at OCAD University in Toronto.

For more information or to register, visit

Learner Options WordPress Plugin

March 26, 2015

A WordPress plugin is now available for Learner Options. The plugin adds the Learner Options component to any WordPress site, allowing visitors to adjust things like text size, text style, contrast, and line spacing.

The Learner Options plugin is still in early development, but it has been deployed on this blog.

The plugin is available on GitHub, and questions and comments are welcomed on the fluid-work mailing list.

OER Accessibility Sprint

January 13, 2015

On February 25-27, 2015, the Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) at OCAD University will be hosting an OER Accessibility Sprint. Experts in the field of Open Educational Resources (OER) will gather to design and develop tools and exemplars that make practical progress in the important agenda of inclusive learning through OER. They will be sharing their results in open notebooks.

Among the challenges on the agenda are a special focus on HTML5 and EPUB3 applied in:

  • simulations and highly interactive content,
  • video and timed media,
  • gaming,
  • mobile and responsive content, and
  • OER delivery platforms.

For more information, visit the Sprint's website.

Lumen Learning

September 30, 2014

Lumen Learning has been selected to receive funding as part of the Next Generation Courseware Challenge, a $20 million grant competition from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to build exemplary, affordable digital course materials that improve student success among low-income and disadvantaged learners. Inspired in part by the groundbreaking work of Benjamin Bloom, Lumen’s courseware will apply educational strategies that show promise for improving learning outcomes: personal learning pathways for developing subject mastery; personalized teaching; and effective use of open educational resources. The result will be “next generation” courseware for four introductory-level college courses that enroll millions of students every year: Introduction to Business; Principles of Marketing; Microeconomics; and Macroeconomics.

The Floe team is excited to be a partner in this project. Floe will design the courseware’s universally accessible user experience through a highly iterative, inclusive and learner-centric process. The courseware developed through this grant will pioneer a new model for digital courseware and delivery tailored to the needs of disadvantaged students.

For more information about the project, read the Lumen Learning press release.

Metadata Search

April 21, 2014

The Floe team recently contributed to the development of a set of accessibility metadata properties that were adopted by, a consortium of major search engines including Bing, Google, Yahoo! and Yandex. The properties are based on the IMS Global Learning Consortium's Access For All specification. These additions will make it easier for publishers and webmasters to connect learners with the most useful content, and help users with special needs locate and consume content that is most appropriate for their specific needs.

The Floe team is working on designs for a search interface that would filter content based on these properties.

Floe at HCI

April 15, 2014

The Floe team will be presenting a number of papers at the upcoming HCI International conference:

  • An Introduction to the Floe Project
  • Creating a Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII)
  • Prosperity4All – Setting the Stage for a Paradigm Shift in eInclusion
  • PGA: Preferences for Global Access
  • Enabling Architecture: How the GPII Supports Cross-Platform Inclusive Software Development
  • Personalizing Interfaces Using an Inclusive Design Approach
  • Automatic Metadata Generation
  • The GPII on Desktops in PCs OSs: Windows & GNOME
  • Prosperity as a Model for Next-Generation Accessibility
  • Prosperity4All: Designing a Multi-Stakeholder Network for Economic Inclusion

The conference will be held June 22-27, 2014, in Creta Maris, Heraklion, Crete, Greece.

Accessibility in OER: Panel Presentation

April 4, 2014

This week, the Floe team participated in a panel on emerging accessibility needs in OER at the OpenStax CNX annual conference. The slides can be downloaded from the project wiki.

Workshop: Inclusive Technology in the Classroom

March 28, 2014

Earlier this week, the Floe team conducted a workshop with the Vitrine technologie-éducation (VTÉ). The workshop discussed the use of technology to create an inclusive classroom, and highlighted the work of the Floe project. The slides can be downloaded from the project wiki.

Floe Presentations at CSUN

March 24, 2014

Last week, the Floe team presented two papers at CSUN's annual Internation Technology & Persons With Disabilities conference: "Fluid Infusion: Building the Next Generation of the Accessible Web" and "Personalizing Interfaces: An Inclusive Design Approach to Increase Access." The slides for the first talk can be downloaded from the project wiki.

Metadata Editing Components

March 18, 2014

The Floe team is developing a suite of tools for creating more accessible and personalizable web content by supporting the creation of accessibility metadata. These tools will allow content creators to easily generate metadata at the point of creation, reducing the cost and complexity of pro-ducing and delivering content that can be tailored to a user’s needs and preferences.

A demo of the latest work illustrates the metadata that can be automatically generated during the process of adding a video to an OER. By building tools that focus on content creation at the point of authoring, Floe prioritizes accessibility metadata while providing built-in solutions suitable for any content authoring system.

Harnessing the Open Web

March 10, 2014

Last week, the Floe team presented a paper entitled "Harnessing the Open Web To Create Inclusive Learning Environments" at DML2104 in Boston, MA. The session included a design activity that helped the participants develop an understanding of inclusive design. The slides can be downloaded from the project wiki.

EDUPUB2 Workshop

March 1, 2013

Last month, the Floe team participated in an accessibility panel at the EDUPUB2 Workshop held by the IMS Global Learning Consortium.

Inclusive Design of OERs

Nov. 12, 2013

Last week, the Floe team presented a paper entitled "Inclusive Design of OERs" at OpenEd 2013. The slides can be downloaded from the project wiki.

Call For Contributions: WAI's Accessible E-Learning Online Symposium

November 05, 2013

W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative will be hosting an Accessible E-Learning online symposium on December 16, 2013. They are currently inviting submission of new research, ongoing research, and analysis of past research related to e-learning accessibility.

Learning and education are the enablers of social and economic change. E-learning systems allow instructors and students to interact synchronously and asynchronously from any part of the world that has a viable internet connection. This symposium will explore the relationship between content accessibility and interface accessibility, accessibility of e-learning environments used in non-conventional contexts, privacy issues in profiling learners and e-learning environments users, and other important topics.

Participation in the symposium is free.

For more information about the symposium, including submission guidelines and partipation information, see

Fluid Releases New Video Player

March 05, 2013

The Fluid community has announced the release of Video Player v0.1

Video Player is designed to be a fully accessible HTML5 video player. The designs can be seen at

v0.1 is the first public release of Video Player and includes initial support for:

  • Captions
  • Transcripts
  • Integration with UI Options
  • Keyboard Accessibility
  • Graceful Degradation for IE8

For more information about the Video Player, you can read the README file in the github repository:

You can download or checkout a copy from the github repository:

For a complete list of known issues, please see the Video Player issue tracker.

The Fluid community would like to thank all the users and community members who contributed to this release!

FLOE deployment feasibility study funded by US Dept. of Education

December 05, 2012

The U.S. Department of Education’s National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research has recently announced funding for one of the projects that Floe is participating in: "Profile Creation Support for Cloud-based Accessibility." This project will harness global networks and cloud services to support custom preferences that travel with a learner across devices and learning environments, both on and off the Web, delivering appropriate solutions to users anywhere, anytime and on any device or platform. The contract for this project was awarded to the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME), in partnership with the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII) team, including the Inclusive Design Research Center at OCAD U, Raising the Floor International, WGBH’s National Center for Accessible Media, IBM, and Inclusive Technologies.

For more information about the grant, see

FLOE leads Inclusive Design workshop at Big Ideas Fest

December 05, 2012

On Dec. 3, 2012, Jutta Treviranus led a workshop on Inclusive Learning Design at Big Ideas 2012. The workshop highlighted techniques for creating inclusive open educational resources.

Big Ideas is an annual conference that brings together teachers, policy makers, researchers, eduprenuers, students, and funders who are championing the transformation of K-20 education. For information, visit

Jutta Treviranus Listed Among Zoomer Magazine’s Top 45 Over 45

October 24, 2012

Jutta Treviranus, Director of the Inclusive Design Research Centre, has been named by Zoomer Magazine as one of Canada's Top 45 Over 45, people who "have made a difference in their chose fields and passions while improving our lives and that of our country." Jutta is listed among such other illustrious Canadians as astronaut Chris Hadfield, musician Corey Hart, Higgs boson particle discoverers Nigel Lockyer and Rob McPherson, Steve Paiken, Joe MacInnes, equestrian Ian Miller, actor Christopher Plummer, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, OCAD U alumnus Phil Richards (painted official Diamond Jubliee Portrait of the Queen), Alberta Premier Alison Redford, and many, many others.

Plans For Floe Year Three

October 19, 2012

The Floe project is now in its third year. Our focus moving forward will be to advance the work we've been doing on personalized learning. During the first two years of the Floe project, we

Moving forward, our plans include

  • designing and developing tools and technologies to complete the end-to-end personalized learning experience, including matching of learning resources to preferences and refining matches based on learner feedback;
  • working with ISKME to add new use cases and scenarios to the ILDH;
  • developing mobile OER-editing capabilities for OER Commons;
  • creating an accessible ePub3 textbook exemplar.

We look forward to providing more details about these initiatives in future posts.

Floe at Open Education Conference in Vancouver, B.C.

October 15, 2012

This week, Jutta Treviranus, Director of the Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) at OCAD University, will be attending the Open Education Conference in Vancouver, B.C. (Oct. 16-18, 2012). She will be participating in the "Pitchfest" with Una Daly, Community College Outreach Director at the Open Courseware Consortium. Jutta will be speaking about the Floe project and about the inclusive design of educational resources.

Project Update

October 12, 2012

The Floe team has been involved in a number of activities recently:

We have been collaborating with OER Commons in several areas:

  • helping to ensure that OER Commons is accessible to all learners and educators,
  • integrating the Infusion User Interface Options component into OER Commons, and
  • contributing to the design and development of Open Author.

Our development team is also working on a fully accessible, open source HTML5 video player. You can try a demo here:

Webinar: Outside In - Achieving Our Goals by Designing for Diversity. March 8, 2012

March 06, 2012

Jutta Treviranus, Director of the Inclusive Design Research Centre at OCAD University, will be co-presenting a webinar as part of Open Education Week . The aim of Open Education Week is to raise awareness of the open education movement and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide. The webinar, entitled "Outside In - Achieving Our Goals by Designing for Diversity," will discuss how processes that design open courseware resources and delivery platforms for diverse learners also address many other goals, including deeper learning, delivery on mobile platforms, discovery, internationalization, and many more.

The webinar will be presented Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 22:00 GMT.

For more information about the webinar, visit the webinar page on the Open Education Week website .

Updates to the Inclusive Learning Design Handbook

February 28, 2012

New content has been added to the Inclusive Learning Design Handbook, including

  • overviews of inclusive learning and accessibility principles,
  • techniques for designing video and audio content and players to be inclusive,
  • guidelines for authoring content that is inclusive
  • and much more!

The Handbook is a free Open Educational Resource (OER) designed to assist teachers, content creators, Web developers, and others in creating adaptable and personalizable content that can accommodate a diversity of learning styles and individual needs. Contributions are welcome and encouraged from all.