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Rubina Quadri, MA, Early Childhood Studies

Early Childhood Studies master’s student Rubina Quadri is helping autistic children communicate thanks to a $27,000 Ryerson Social Enterprise Fellowship Federal Development Grant. Photo credit: Mark Blinch.

After working for 10 years in early childhood education, Rubina Quadri took her career in her own hands and fulfilled a long-standing desire to become a social entrepreneur.


“Ryerson has been a place where I’ve been able to shape my life, not just prepare myself for a job,” says the Early Childhood Studies master’s student.

Quadri began her journey as an undergraduate working in Ryerson’s external,EDGE (Experiential Design and Gaming Environment) Lab, an interdisciplinary environment that enables researchers to develop and test prototypes virtually before launching them in the real world.

“Working at the EDGE Lab was the perfect place for me,” says Quadri. “At Ryerson, I’ve had amazing opportunities, beyond what I even knew existed. I thought I was coming here to learn about research, which I did, but there was so much more, including the opportunity to start a social venture.”

During her master’s, Quadri co-founded a startup specializing in adaptive design and developed a new Alternative and Augmentative Communication device called Talking Buttons. Designed for autistic children, this wearable, customizable touchpad helps them interact with others using language in an independent way, at a point in their development when their need to communicate with people outside their family increases dramatically.

In 2013, Quadri was awarded a $27,000 Ryerson Social Enterprise Fellowship Federal Development Grant that she used to develop and market test Talking Buttons. Now that her market research is completed, the next step for this determined and driven social innovator will be to fine-tune the prototype and start commercializing it.

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