Jutta Treviranus

Director of the Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC), Toronto, Canada

Professor in the faculty of Design at OCAD University, Toronto, Canada


Jutta Treviranus is the Director of the Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) and professor in the faculty of Design at OCAD University in Toronto. Jutta established the IDRC in 1993 (formerly the Adaptive Technology Resource Centre) as a center of expertise that proactively promotes the inclusive design of information and communication technologies, practices and policies. Jutta also heads the Inclusive Design Institute, a multi-university regional centre of expertise. Jutta founded an innovative graduate program in inclusive design at OCAD University. Together with Gregg Vanderheiden, Jutta co-directs Raising the Floor International. She leads international multi-partner research networks that have created broadly implemented innovations that support inclusion e.g., Fluid Project, FLOE, and many others. Jutta and her team have pioneered network-supported personalization as an approach to accessibility in the digital domain. She has played a leading role in developing accessibility legislation, standards and specifications internationally (including W3C WAI ATAG, IMS AccessForAll, ISO 24751, and AODA Information and Communication). She has chaired the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines working group as part of the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium. She is a member of numerous advisory boards globally concerned with accessible ICT, including Google, Amazon, Microsoft, NIST, UNDESA, CMHR and others. Jutta’s leadership in Inclusive Design has been recognized through numerous awards, including a Diamond Jubilee Medal and recognition as one of Canada’s top 45 over 45 by Zoomer Magazine. Jutta’s work has been attributed as the impetus for corporate adoption of more inclusive practices in large enterprise companies such as Microsoft.

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Teaching our Machines to be Smart, Not Prejudiced

Before an intelligent machine can be of help, it has to understand us. There is nothing more frustrating than negotiating with a machine that does not recognize our request, or that misunderstands our intent. Machine learning models and algorithms depend upon data analytics. Data analytics is biased toward dominant patterns, not outliers. People with disabilities and other minorities are outliers. Artificial intelligence has been heralded as a promising technology to assist individuals with disabilities. Intelligent machines have been envisioned as personal assistants, companions and smart environments to remind, prompt, guide, alert to risk and assist with daily functions. More urgently, intelligent machines are making a host of important decisions that affect our lives from predicting loan and credit worthiness, academic potential, terrorist intent, to future employment performance. Before the promise can be fully realized, and the prejudice averted, we must train our machines to be inclusive. This will benefit everyone. Intelligence that understands diversity and stretches to encompass the outliers is better at predicting risk and opportunity, more capable of processing the unexpected, more adaptable, and more dynamically resilient.