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Faculty of Community Services

Kathryn Woodcock




  • Human factors engineering
  • Amusement rides and attractions


I am a professor in the School of Occupational and Public Health. I teach, research, and consult in the area of human factors engineering. I have a BASc and MASc from the University of Waterloo and a PhD from the University of Toronto.

I am a registered professional engineer, a Canadian certified professional ergonomist and a fellow of the Association of Canadian Ergonomists. I am the longest tenured deaf professor in Canada and am the first deaf woman to receive a PhD in Engineering.

My research focuses on human factors engineering in designed public spaces and activities, particularly in the domain of amusement attractions. I established the THRILL lab (Tools for Holistic Ride Inspection Learning and Leadership) and have been studying and applying human factors engineering to amusement attractions and themed entertainment since 2002. Through the lab and its partners in industry, I facilitate field trip experiences to observe Technical Standards & Safety Authority (TSSA) inspections of the Canadian National Exhibition and tour other industry facilities with students from a variety of academic programs.

My research, development, and consultation projects include accident and error analysis, task demand modelling, and interface design, pertaining to guests, operators, and inspectors. I was the principal applicant establishing Ryerson’s Mixed-reality Immersive Motion Simulator facility. I also studied and published on health and work issues of deafness, disability, sign language interpretation and accessibility.

I have published over 75 peer-reviewed chapters, journal articles and conference papers and over 200 other presentations and publications for both industry and professional audiences including the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials, TSSA, Amusement Industry Manufacturers and Suppliers (ASTM) and the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA).

My extensive knowledge mobilization activities in the attractions industry also include professional training and standards development and consulting to designer/manufacturers and owner/operators. In addition to serving on TSSA Consumer Advisory Council and Amusement Devices Advisory Council, I am a member of the Global Safety Committee of IAAPA, lead the international Rider Eligibility Task Group for ASTM International Committee F24, and serve on the newly established CSA Z1005 Technical Committee developing an incident investigation and prevention standard. I received the 2015 Safety Impact Award from TSSA and designated IAAPA Certified Attractions Executive in 2017.

Through the 1980's, I was a hospital vice-president who led a 600-person division through significant structural and strategic systems change and managed a $20 million budget (1990 dollars), while playing an active role in the Ontario Hospital Association and its province-wide safety association through the early years of Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act and establishment of Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) and Early Return to Work programs.

Following my doctoral studies and prior to joining Ryerson, I taught industrial and systems engineering and ergonomics at University of Waterloo and Rochester Institute of Technology (New York), and managed a research and policy unit in the Prevention Division of the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board of Ontario.

In addition to awards within Ryerson, I have received numerous public recognitions including the Ontario Medal of Good Citizenship, Canadian Council of Professional Engineers Meritorious Service Award, Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario Citizenship Award, University of Waterloo Faculty of Engineering Alumni Achievement Medal, and I. King Jordan Award from the Association of Late-Deafened Adults.

I became the first deaf president of the board of the Canadian Hearing Society in 1990 at its 50th annual general meeting and celebration and have served on a wide variety of other local, provincial, national and international boards and councils including the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council for the Minister of Community and Social Services, National Captioning Institute, Centennial College of Applied Arts and Technology, Council of Regents for Ontario Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology, Human Factors Association of Canada (now Association of Canadian Ergonomists), Centennial Hospital Linen Service, and Association of Late-Deafened Adults.

Research Interests:

Research interests:

  • Applying human factors interface design principles to amusement rides (including control interfaces and rider interfaces)
  • Investigation and explanation of human performance in system failure
  • Consumer performance in designed public spaces, particularly forced-pace tasks
  • Safety inspection decision-making and performance supports

Research projects:

  • Human factors engineering tools for amusement attraction design and evaluation (NSERC Discovery Grant)
  • Human factors design tools for theme park attractions (private)
  • Determining participation eligibility for amusement rides
  • Developing aids for investigating and recording rider error in amusement ride accidents and similar environments

Current Courses:

Teaching responsibilities:

  • OHS 323: Accident Theory & Analysis
  • OHS 523: Safety Evaluation Techniques
  • OHS 477: Integrated Disability Management
  • OHS 718: Systems Management I
  • DG 8010: Special Topics in Digital Media - Themed Entertainment Technology and Design

Thesis supervision:

In addition to supervising ENH 766/866 projects in areas related to my teaching or research themes, I welcome inquiries for thesis co-supervision from students in any discipline in the area of themed entertainment and attraction design and engineering. I particularly invite inquiries from graduate applicants qualified for graduate studies in human factors engineering and admission to Ryerson's Mechanical Engineering Graduate Program (MEGP) and Master of Digital Media (MDM) Program.

Selected Publications:


  • Woodcock, K., Aguayo, M., 2000. Deafened People: Adjustment and Support. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.


  • Campbell, L., Rohan, M.J., Woodcock, K., 2008. Academic and educational interpreting from the other side of the classroom: Working with Deaf academics. In Deaf Professionals and Designated Interpreters: A New Paradigm. P. Hauser, K. Finch, A. Hauser, Editors. Washington DC: Gallaudet University Press.

Journal articles:

  • Stenzler, P.M., Handley, H.A., Woodcock, K. 2016. Identifying human factors mismatches in amusement ride containment failure. Advances in Human Factors in Sports and Outdoor Recreation, Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing 496, 177–187.
  • Woodcock, K., 2015. Determining participation eligibility for amusement attractions. Procedia Manufacturing 3: 5389-5396.
  • Fischer, S., Johnson, R. Abdoli, M., Woodcock, K., 2014. Investigating the effect of experience and time on kinematics during one hour of sign language interpreting. IIE Transactions on Occupational Ergonomics and Human Factors 2: 60–70.
  • Woodcock, K., 2014. Amusement ride injury data in the United States, Safety Science 62, 466–474.
  • Woodcock, K., 2014. Human factors and use of amusement ride control interfaces. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics 44, 99–106.
  • Woodcock, K., 2014. Model of safety inspection. Safety Science 62, 145–156.
  • Fischer, S., Woodcock, K. 2012. A cross sectional survey of reported musculoskeletal pain, disorders, work volume and employment situation among sign language interpreters. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics 42, 335–340.
  • Fischer, S.L., Marshall, M.M., Woodcock, K., 2012. Musculoskeletal disorders in sign language interpreters: A systematic review and conceptual model of musculoskeletal disorder development. WORK: a journal of prevention, treatment and rehabilitation 42, 173–184.
  • Woodcock, K., 2008. Content analysis of 100 consecutive media reports of amusement ride accidents. Accident Analysis and Prevention 40, 89–96.
  • Woodcock, K., Pole, J.D., 2008. Educational Attainment, Labour Force Status and Injury: a comparison of Canadians with and without deafness and hearing loss. International Journal of Rehabilitation Research 31, 297–304.
  • Woodcock, K., Pole, J.D, 2007. Health profile of Deaf Canadians: Analysis of the Canada Community Health Survey. Canadian Family Physician 53:2140–2141 e.7.
  • Woodcock, K., 2007. Rider errors and amusement ride safety: Observation at three carnival midways. Accident Analysis and Prevention 39, 390–397.
  • Woodcock, K., Rohan, M.J., Campbell, L., 2007. Equitable representation of deaf people in mainstream academia: Why not? Higher Education 53, 359–379.
  • Woodcock, K., Drury C.G., Smiley A.M., Ma, J., 2005. Using simulated investigations for accident investigation studies. Applied Ergonomics. 36: 1–12.

Professional Affiliations:

  • Canadian National Exhibition Women of Distinction, 2016
  • Italian Manufacturer Association ANCASVI, Parksmania, and ITA-Italian Trade Agency, PARKSMANIA Career Award, 2016
  • Safety Impact Award, Technical Standards and Safety Authority, Ontario, 2015
  • I. King Jordan Distinguished Achievement Award, Association of Late-Deafened Adults, 2013
  • Fellow, Association of Canadian Ergonomists, 2011
  • Faculty Scholarly Research and Creative (SRC) Activity Award Ryerson University, 2011
  • Faculty Service Award, Ryerson University, 2010
  • SOPH Faculty Spirit Award co-recipient, School of Occupational and Public Health course union, 2010
  • Alumni Achievement Medal, University of Waterloo Faculty of Engineering, 1996
  • Meritorious Service Award—Community Service, Canadian Council of Professional Engineers, 1993
  • Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship (O.M.C.), 1993
  • Edmund Lyon Memorial Lectureship Award, Rochester Institute of Technology, 1992
  • Citizenship Award—Community Service, Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario, 1991

Selected Publications & Presentations:

  • Association of Canadian Ergonomists
  • College for Certification of Canadian Professional Ergonomists
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
  • International Society for Occupational Ergonomics and Safety
  • Professional Engineers Ontario
  • Society of Women Engineers
  • ASTM International
  • International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions
  • Themed Entertainment Association
  • National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials
  • Canadian Standards Association

Position Currently Held:


Awards and honours

Contact details

  • kathryn.woodcock [at]

Office details

  • POD-253F, Podium building

Appointment preference

  • To accommodate communication access, please make appointment in advance.

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