ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

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United for a Barrier-Free Ontario

The Wynne Government's Current Online Survey of Disability Barriers in Ontario's Education system Leaves out Many if not the Majority of Barriers Impeding Students with Disabilities in Ontario's Education System The AODA Alliance Offers Ways to Fix That Survey

June 21, 2017

Summary

On June 21, 2017, the AODA Alliance wrote Ontario's Minister of Accessibility Tracy MacCharles, Minister of Education Mitzie Hunter, and Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development Deb Matthews. In that letter, set out below, we identify problems with the Government's online survey about disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system.  The Government launched that survey on May 25, 2017. We offer 10 constructive recommendations to improve the survey and related Government efforts on developing the promised Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

In summary, our letter explains the following concerns:

1. the need for the Government to Speed up the development of the promised Education Accessibility Standard.

2. the Government's online disability education survey is too narrow. Its list of five focus areas leaves out many if not the majority of disability accessibility barriers that students with disabilities face in Ontario's education system. It also leaves out many educational organizations in Ontario such as early learning programs, private schools, and job training programs that are not offered by a college or university. Its final open-ended questions let the public talk about other disability accessibility barriers. While helpful, that is not sufficient to offset the way the survey steers and narrows the discussion..

3. the similar need for the Government to expand the Government's Engagement Guide for education organizations like schools that hold public forums or meetings on education disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system.

4. Our serious concern that the Government is preparing to restrict which education barriers the forthcoming Education Standards Development Committee can consider, when it recommends what the promised Education Accessibility Standard should include. This threatens to prevent the Education Accessibility Standard from ensuring that Ontario's education system becomes fully accessible to students with disabilities by 2025, the deadline that the AODA imposes.

5. The Government has failed to consult the AODA Alliance on the disability barriers online survey and Engagement Guide.

6. It is time for the Government to keep two key decade-old election promises made to the AODA Alliance concerning education in Ontario.

As always, we offer practical recommendations for prompt action. Our letter recommends the following 10 actions, which the Government could easily and quickly take:

1. We ask the Government to accelerate the process of appointing the Education Standards Development Committee as soon as possible after the July 31, 2017 deadline for people to apply to serve on it.

2. Once it is appointed, we ask the Government to get the Education Standards Development Committee up and running as quickly as possible, starting by mid-September.

3. We ask the Government to adjust its online survey to explicitly include the additional disability accessibility barriers we list in our letter. Because the Government's survey is being run on the Survey Monkey website, it will be easy to adjust it at any time.

4. We ask the Government to expand the survey to include disability accessibility barriers in all educational organizations in Ontario's education system, not just in publicly-funded schools, or in colleges and universities. For example, it should also include private schools, early learning programs and job training programs.

5. We ask the Government to remove the reference in the survey that suggests that older buildings are a problem for built environment accessibility, unlike newer buildings.

6. We ask the Government to re-issue its Engagement Guide for schools, colleges and universities, after expanding it to include a wide and inclusive spectrum of disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system, including the missing barrier areas that the AODA Alliance has identified in this letter.

7. We ask the Government to widely circulate to educational organizations the June 19, 2017 AODA Alliance Update, which offers tips to Ontario's education system on how to conduct public forums or meetings to gather feedback for the Government on disability accessibility barriers in educational organizations.

8. We ask the Government to not try to impose prior restraints on which disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system the forthcoming Education Standards Development Committee can consider within the scope of the AODA.

9. We ask the Government to consult with and work with the AODA Alliance on its upcoming actions on developing the promised Education Accessibility Standard, including e.g. on the terms of reference or mandate for the forthcoming Education Standards Development Committee.

10. We ask the Government to now keep its decade-old election promises to

a) reach out to self-governing professions (which certain should include teachers) to include disability inclusion and accessibility training in their professional training, and

b) create school curriculum on disability accessibility and inclusion.

At the end of this Update, we offer helpful links to important background information

MORE DETAILS

Text of the AODA Alliances June 21, 2017 Letter to the Ontario Ministers of Accessibility, of Education and of Advanced Education and Skills Development

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M4G 3E8
Email aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance www.aodaalliance.org

June 21, 2017

Via Email Tracy.MacCharles@ontario.ca

The Honourable Tracy MacCharles,
Minister of Accessibility and Minister of Government and Consumer Services
Office of the Minister Responsible for Accessibility
6th Floor, Mowat Block
900 Bay St,
Toronto, ON M7A 1L2

And

Via email: Mitzie.hunter@ontario.ca

The Honourable Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Education
22nd Floor, Mowat Block
900 Bay St,
Toronto, ON M7A 1L2

And

Via email deb.matthews@ontario.ca

The Honourable Deb Matthews, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development
3rd Floor, Mowat Block
900 Bay St,
Toronto, ON M7A 1L2

Dear Ministers,

Re: Ensuring Ontario's Education System Becomes Fully Accessible to Hundreds of Thousands of Students with Disabilities

We commend the Government for three steps that it took on May 25, 2017

1. launching the process for recruiting people to serve on the forthcoming Education Standards Development Committee.

2. launching an online survey of the public on disability accessibility barriers facing students with disabilities in Ontario's education system, and

3. encouraging educational organizations like schools to hold community forums or meetings to gather input on the education disability barriers that students with disabilities face.

However, we wish to raise several concerns regarding your Government's May 25, 2017 announcements. Unless our concerns are addressed, the promised Education Accessibility Standard could fail to address many if not the majority of disability accessibility barriers that students with disabilities face in Ontario. We also wish to recommend constructive action to address our concerns. As always, we would welcome the chance to work with you and your Government to succeed in the important area of tearing down the many disability accessibility barriers facing students with disabilities in Ontario's education system.

1. Speeding Up the Development of the Promised Education Accessibility Standard

We are very concerned with the protracted delay in getting to work on developing the promised Education Accessibility Standard. It was not necessary for the Government to take fully six months to release this public survey and launch the recruitment of people to serve on the Education Standards Development Committee. Premier Wynne commendably announced on December 5, 2016 that the Government would create an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Before that, The Government had spent years exploring whether to agree to develop an Education Accessibility Standard. Only seven and a half years remain for the Government to lead Ontario to full accessibility, including its education system. Premier Wynne has promised to ensure that Ontario is on schedule for that deadline, a deadline which the AODA makes mandatory.
 
Recommendations

1. We ask the Government to accelerate the process of appointing the Education Standards Development Committee as soon as possible after the July 31, 2017 deadline for people to apply to serve on it.

2. Once it is appointed, we ask the Government to get the Education Standards Development Committee up and running as quickly as possible, starting by mid-September.

2. The Government's Online Disability Education Survey is Too Narrow

The Government's online survey of education disability accessibility barriers is too narrow. We have two concerns:

First, the Government's online survey only asks about disability accessibility barriers in publicly-funded schools, and in colleges and universities in Ontario. This leaves out the significant number of other organizations in Ontario's education system which provide education programming to the public. It leaves out all private schools. It leaves out pre-school early learning programs. It leaves out all job training and apprenticeship programs, if they are not administered by a college or university.

All the excluded educational organizations must obey the right of students with disabilities to equality in education enshrined in the Ontario Human Rights Code. An AODA Education Accessibility Standard aims to ensure that that right is fully honoured and implemented.

Excluding those educational organizations flies in the face of Government policy and priorities. The Government has itself emphasized the importance of early learning and early literacy. Children with disabilities should be able to fully participate in and fully benefit from that programming. School education is important, whether it is provided in a publicly-funded school or a private school. The Government has recognized the importance of a good education to getting a job. Job training programs are thereby critical for people with disabilities, whether or not they are offered by a college or university.

Second, the Government's survey takes much far too narrow a view of the many accessibility barriers impeding students with disabilities in Ontario's education system. the Government's online survey only focuses on five limited kinds of disability accessibility barriers. As explained in the Government's related "Engagement guide", these are:

"1.        Accessibility Awareness and Training
•           Ensuring all members of the school community have differentiated training to provide an accessible and inclusive educational experience

2.         Awareness of Accessibility Accommodations – Policies, Processes, and Programs/Supports
•           Ensuring parents, students, and instructors have access to information about programs

3.         Information, Communication, and Inclusive Decision-Making
•           Ensuring people with lived experience have a voice during planning processes

4.         Transition Planning
•           Supporting children entering school from child care and planning for entry into post-secondary education or employment

5.         Inclusive and Accessible Learning Spaces
•           Ensuring that K-12 schools, colleges and universities include accessibility features throughout the built environment."

The Government's survey does not specifically focus on many if not the majority of disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system. If the promised Education Accessibility Standard only or primarily focuses on the five kinds of disability accessibility barriers that the Government has chosen, before it even appoints the Education Standards Development Committee, that new accessibility standard will leave many if not most of the disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system in place. They will continue to impede students with disabilities.   

Here is a much more inclusive list of questions that we propose. Where the Government's online survey addresses an area in whole or in part, we note this in this list:

1. What disability accessibility barriers have you experienced or do you know of, that make it harder for students with disabilities to independently get in, get around, and safely use the buildings or grounds of a school, college, university, early learning center, or job training program? (physical barriers) (Note: the Government's survey includes this topic)

2. What disability accessibility barriers have you experienced or do you know of to digital accessibility in school, college, university, early learning programs or job training programs? This can include such things as accessibility barriers for students with disabilities using computers, tablets, software, mobile apps, websites, e-books, or other classroom or online technology that is not equipped for students with disabilities. This can, for example, also include education organizations that circulate information in documents or electronic formats that lack accessibility features. (digital accessibility barriers) 

3. What disability accessibility barriers have you experienced or do you know of that impede students with disabilities from getting, on a timely basis, instructional materials like school books or textbooks, in formats that they can read? (information and communication barriers)

4. What disability accessibility barriers have you experienced or to do you know of, in the process for getting into any specific education program in Ontario? This can include, for example, barriers in the admission qualifications, requirements or criteria, or in the application process, or in an admissions test. Are there qualifications or tests that make it harder or impossible for students with certain disabilities to get in or to be fairly considered? (admission barriers)

5. What disability accessibility barriers have you experienced or do you know of created by the attitudes of other students, parents, or staff that can impede students with disabilities from being fully included in and fully participating in education activities at school, colleges, university, early learning programs or job training programs? (attitude barriers) (Note: the Government's survey includes this at least in part)

6. What disability accessibility barriers have you experienced or do you know of, that can impede students with disabilities from getting into and fully participating in work study programs, co-op placements, apprenticeships, and other "experiential learning activities in school, college, university or job training programs? In the fall 2016 Throne Speech, the Ontario Government promised an experiential learning opportunity for every student in publicly-funded schools. (experiential learning barriers)

7. What disability accessibility barriers have you experienced or are you aware of, in the curriculum used in school, college, university, early learning programs or job training programs? (curriculum barriers)

8. What disability accessibility barriers have you experienced or do you know of in the way classes or lessons are taught in schools, college, university, early learning programs or job training programs? When a class is taught, do instructors' lesson plans use the approach called "universal design in learning" (teaching in a way to include students with different learning styles and needs)? (lesson plan barriers) (Note: the Government's survey addresses this in part.)

9. What barriers in schools, colleges, universities, early learning programs or job training programs, have you experienced or do you know of, that impede teachers from knowing how to effectively teach all students including students with disabilities? (instructor training and skills barriers) (Note: the Government's survey addresses this.)

10. What disability accessibility barriers have you experienced or are you aware of, that impede students with disabilities from fully using libraries and library resources at a school, college, university, early learning centre or job training program? (library barriers)

11. What disability accessibility barriers have you experienced or are you aware of, in getting accessible transportation to the educational organization, where they will study and learn? (transportation barriers)

12. What disability accessibility barriers have you experienced or are you aware of, in getting accessible housing where needed to participate in education at a school, college, university or other educational organization? (housing barriers)

13. What disability accessibility barriers have you experienced or are you aware of, that can impede students with disabilities from fully participating in extra-curricular activities? (extra-curricular barriers)

14. What disability accessibility barriers have you experienced or do you know of, that can impede students with disabilities from using disability supports and accommodations that they need, like a service animal, at a school, college, university, early learning program or job training program? (service animal barriers)

15. What disability accessibility barriers have you experienced or do you know of, in the way a student's learning or progress is tested, and that impede students with disabilities from being fairly and accurately assessed? (testing barriers)

16. What disability accessibility barriers or other problems have you experienced or do you know of that impede students with disabilities and their families from getting easy and prompt access to information needed to fully participate in education programs like schools, colleges, universities or other education programs, e.g. difficulty in finding out the options that are available for them and how to get them? (access to needed information barriers) (Note: the Government's survey addresses this.)

17. What disability accessibility barriers have you experienced or are you aware of, that make it harder for students with disabilities or their families to

a) take part in and be fully included in decisions on how the school, college, university or other educational organization will accommodate the student's individual disability needs;

b) ensure that the school, college, university or other educational organization provides the disability accommodations that they have committed to provide, or

c) quickly and easily appeal within the school board, college, university or other educational organization, if the educational organization refuses to provide a disability accommodation that the student or their family has requested (i.e. to avoid the need for the student to have to go to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal to file a human rights complaint against the educational organization). (fair procedure barriers) (Note: the Government's survey addresses this at least in part.)

18. What policy or bureaucratic barriers exist at school boards or other education organizations that can make it harder for students with disabilities to be included in regular classes with the disability supports they need to fully participate? (inclusion barriers)

19. What legal barriers can get in the way of school boards or other education organizations from effectively meeting the disability needs of students with disabilities, such as in Ontario's Education Act, which does not include all students with disabilities within the definition of students with special education needs? (legal barriers)

The preceding additional accessibility barriers took us little time to compile, using volunteer effort. The Government should certainly know about all of these disability accessibility barriers. Over seven months ago, the AODA Alliance gave the Government its Discussion Paper on what the Education Accessibility Standard should address.

Moreover, over seven months ago, the AODA Alliance gave the Government our detailed analysis of the 2015 KPMG Report on education disability accessibility barriers. It is obvious from the Government's online survey that the Government relied heavily on the KPMG report when designing this education barrier online survey. Our detailed analysis showed last fall that the KPMG report left out key education disability accessibility barriers.

It is good that the Government's survey asks about accessibility barriers in the built environment.
However, the survey incorrectly suggests that new buildings in schools, colleges or universities are more accessible than old ones. the survey states:

"Students may face challenges navigating older buildings designed and constructed before current accessibility requirements were established."

This statement is regrettably not accurate as a generalization. Newer buildings can present as many or more accessibility problems than older ones. This is due to deficiencies in the Ontario Building Code, in AODA accessibility standards, and in the problematic practices of too many design professionals such as architects.

For example, the major recent renovations at York University's Osgoode Hall Law School resulted in a far less accessible building for people with vision loss than the older building, that had originally been built over four decades ago. As well, a widely-publicized AODA Alliance Youtube video shows serious accessibility problems at the brand-new Centennial College Culinary Arts Centre.

Fortunately, the survey's questions themselves do not seem to be limited to older buildings. However, the sentence, quoted above, risks steering the public to focusing on older buildings.

The Education Accessibility Standard's purpose should be to ensure that our education system becomes fully accessible to students with disabilities by 2025. Removing and preventing accessibility barriers lets students with disabilities be fully included in and fully benefit from our education system.

The Education Accessibility Standard needs to address accessibility barriers facing students with any disabilities, not just the disabilities which Ontario's 36-year-old outdated special education laws recognize. This should include any physical, mental, sensory, intellectual, mental health, learning, communication, neurological or other kind of disability. To that end, it is commendable that the Government's May 25, 2017 announcement includes the more inclusive AODA definition of "disability." 

It is commendable that in the Government's online survey, after it focuses on the five chosen areas of disability accessibility barriers, the Government invites the public to tell about any other disability accessibility barriers they know of in Ontario's education system. Yet the survey's five focus areas substantially steer the public input that the Government will receive to an unduly narrow list of barriers.

Recommendations

3. We ask the Government to adjust its online survey to explicitly include the additional disability accessibility barriers we list in our letter. Because the Government's survey is being run on the Survey Monkey website, it will be easy to adjust it at any time.

4. We ask the Government to expand the survey to include disability accessibility barriers in all educational organizations in Ontario's education system, not just in publicly-funded schools, or in colleges and universities. For example, it should also include private schools, early learning programs and job training programs.

5. We ask the Government to remove the reference in the survey that suggests that older buildings are a problem for built environment accessibility, unlike newer buildings.

3. Expanding the Government's Engagement Guide for Education Organizations Like Schools that Hold Public Forums or Meetings on Education Disability Accessibility Barriers

It is commendable that the Government is encouraging education organizations to organize and convene public community events to gather information on the accessibility barriers that students with disabilities face in Ontario's education system. The May 25, 2017 Engagement Guide which the Ministry of Education has sent to publicly-funded school boards across Ontario to help them do this, is helpful. However, it has problems that need to be corrected.

The Government's Engagement Guides for schools, colleges and universities, like its online survey, steers the discussions with students, families, educators and others that it invites to the five limited areas of disability accessibility barriers that we quoted earlier in this letter. By leaving out many if not most of the disability accessibility barriers facing students with disabilities, this Engagement Guide thereby misses a great chance to get helpful input on the full range of accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system.

It is commendable that the Engagement Guide, like the survey, also ends with open-ended questions that let people identify other disability accessibility barriers. However, as with the survey, the Government's steering the discussion in this way is not rectified by those concluding questions. After all, the Engagement Guide shows its primary focus, by stating right near the start:

"We have identified five potential themes for discussion:"

Recommendations

6. We ask the Government to re-issue its Engagement Gide for schools, colleges and universities, after expanding it to include a wide and inclusive spectrum of disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system, including the missing barrier areas that the AODA Alliance has identified in this letter.

7. We ask the Government to widely circulate to educational organizations the June 19, 2017 AODA Alliance Update, which offers tips to Ontario's education system on how to conduct public forums or meetings to gather feedback for the Government on disability accessibility barriers in educational organizations.

4. Government's Preparing to Restrict Which Education Barriers the Education Standards Development Committee Can Consider

From Communications that the Government has sent to the education sector, but not the disability community, it is now clear that the Ontario Government is planning and preparing to try to restrict in advance, which disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system, the forthcoming Education Standards Development Committee can deal with. We have made it clear to the Government that this should not occur. It works against the goals of the AODA, achieving a fully accessible education system by 2025. Because the Government has taken so long to get the Standards Development Committee process going, it has thereby reduced the time that educational organizations will have to reach full accessibility, once an Education Accessibility Standard is enacted.

The Government has given different explanations to the disability community, as contrasted with the education sector (like school boards), on how it plans to use the results of its education barriers online survey. In a May 25, 2017 broadcast email that announces this survey, Assistant Deputy Minister for Accessibility Ann Hoy told the disability community that the survey results will be shared with the Standards Development Committee to help with its work. She wrote:

"Your input through this survey will be shared with a Standards Development Committee and will help to provide the foundation for a new accessibility standard for education in Ontario."

We have no objection to this, as long as it does not delay the appointment of the Education Standards Development Committee. To the contrary, this survey can be very helpful, if the survey is modified, as we recommended earlier in this letter.

In sharp contrast, in a concurrent May 25, 2017 letter to the education sector such as school boards, Education Minister Mitzie Hunter went further. She said that the Government will also use the survey's results to define which education accessibility barriers the Standards Development Committee could even consider. The Government will do this before that Standards Development Committee starts its work. The Government initially did not send the Education Minister's letter to us. Someone in the education sector passed it on to us. In that letter, Education Minister Hunter wrote:

"We are also conducting a survey to hear from you in the possible scope of this committee's mandate."

It is wrong for the Government to try to restrict, in advance, which disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system, the forthcoming Education Standards Development Committee can consider. Under the AODA, the job of the Education Standards Development Committee is to give the Government advice on which disability accessibility barriers need to be addressed in Ontario's education system. For example, for the Government to limit the Education Standards Development Committee to publicly-funded schools, colleges and universities, and to limit it to the five areas of disability accessibility barriers that are the focus of the Government's survey and Engagement Guide would, as noted earlier, force the Education Accessibility Standard to leave permanently in place many if not the majority of disability accessibility barriers now impeding students with disabilities  in Ontario's education system.

This independent Standards Development Committee needs to be free to give whatever advice it wishes. Indeed, any such attempted prior restraints will be futile. Those who serve on that Committee should give whatever advice they feel is needed, so long as it falls within the AODA's parameters.

Recommendations

8. We ask the Government to not try to impose prior restraints on which disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system the forthcoming Education Standards Development Committee can consider within the scope of the AODA.

5. The Government's Failure to Consult the AODA Alliance On the Disability Barriers Online Survey and Engagement Guide

We regret that over the six months that it took to work on them, the Government never consulted the AODA Alliance on the contents of its online survey or its Engagement Guide. This letter itself shows that we have positive, helpful and constructive ideas to share. This is made worse by the fact that the Government did not earlier have KPMG consult us or people with disabilities generally on the disability accessibility barriers they face in Ontario's education system, when it prepared its Government-funded report on which the Government has relied.

We fear that there is a troubling and growing pattern.  The Government also did not consult the AODA Alliance on its Disability Employment Strategy, announced on June 5, 2017. Our input can help the Government. As the saying goes, "Nothing about us without us!"

We have led the campaign for accessibility in Ontario for people with disabilities since the AODA was passed. This includes our leading the campaign to get an Education Accessibility Standard in Ontario.

Recommendations

9. We ask the Government to consult with and work with the AODA Alliance on its upcoming actions on developing the promised Education Accessibility Standard, including e.g. on the terms of reference or mandate for the forthcoming Education Standards Development Committee.

6. Time to Keep Two Key Decade-Old Election Promises Made to the AODA Alliance 

In its survey and Engagement Guide, the Government seeks input from students, teachers and families about the need to better train teachers on how to teach students with disabilities. It also asks about educating students without disabilities about including students with disabilities and about meeting their accessibility needs. It has been a full decade since the very same Government made two important and as yet unkept promises on these very points. In the 2007 provincial election, Ontario's Liberal Party leader, Premier Dalton McGuinty, wrote the AODA Alliance on September 14, 2007, promising to advocate to self-governing professions (which would include teachers) to include accessibility training in their professional training. It also promised to offer curriculum to school boards on similar disability content. In his September 14, 2007 letter to the AODA Alliance, setting out his party's election promises on accessibility, Premier McGuinty wrote:

"Institute a new program to ensure that students in schools and professional organizations are trained on accessibility issues. 
 
We already include awareness of and respect for students with special needs: in every curriculum document there is a front piece on planning programs for students with special education needs. Disability awareness is an expectation in the Grade 12 Social Sciences and Humanities course. Our government also introduced character education.
 
Character education is about schools reinforcing values shared by the school community – values such as respect, honesty, responsibility and fairness. It is about nurturing universal values, upon which schools and communities can agree. We will ensure that this curriculum includes issues relating to persons with disabilities.

The Government of Ontario does not set the training curriculum for professional bodies such as architects, but we commit to raising this issue with the different professional bodies."

Recommendations

10. We ask the Government to now keep its decade-old election promises to

a) reach out to self-governing professions (which certain should include teachers) to include disability inclusion and accessibility training in their professional training, and

b) create school curriculum on disability accessibility and inclusion.

 
In conclusion, please accept this detailed letter as showing both our expertise in this area and our eagerness to help the Government succeed in making educational organizations fully accessible to people with disabilities.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont.
Chair
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

cc: Premier Kathleen Wynne, premier@ontario.ca   
Marie-Lison Fougère, Deputy Minister of Accessibility, marie-lison.fougere@ontario.ca
Ann Hoy, Assistant Deputy Minister for the Accessibility Directorate, ann.hoy@ontario.ca
Steve Orsini, Secretary to Cabinet steve.orsini@ontario.ca
Sheldon Levy, Deputy Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development Sheldon.levy@ontario.ca
Bruce Rodrigues, Deputy Minister of Education Bruce.Rodrigues@ontario.ca   

List of Recommendations

1. We ask the Government to accelerate the process of appointing the Education Standards Development Committee as soon as possible after the July 31, 2017 deadline for people to apply to serve on it.

2. Once it is appointed, we ask the Government to get the Education Standards Development Committee up and running as quickly as possible, starting by mid-September.

3. We ask the Government to adjust its online survey to explicitly include the additional disability accessibility barriers we list in our letter. Because the Government's survey is being run on the Survey Monkey website, it will be easy to adjust it at any time.

4. We ask the Government to expand the survey to include disability accessibility barriers in all educational organizations in Ontario's education system, not just in publicly-funded schools, or in colleges and universities. For example, it should also include private schools, early learning programs and job training programs.

5. We ask the Government to remove the reference in the survey that suggests that older buildings are a problem for built environment accessibility, unlike newer buildings.

6. We ask the Government to re-issue its Engagement Gide for schools, colleges and universities, after expanding it to include a wide and inclusive spectrum of disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system, including the missing barrier areas that the AODA Alliance has identified in this letter.

7. We ask the Government to widely circulate to educational organizations the June 19, 2017 AODA Alliance Update, which offers tips to Ontario's education system on how to conduct public forums or meetings to gather feedback for the Government on disability accessibility barriers in educational organizations.

8. We ask the Government to not try to impose prior restraints on which disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system the forthcoming Education Standards Development Committee can consider within the scope of the AODA.

9. We ask the Government to consult with and work with the AODA Alliance on its upcoming actions on developing the promised Education Accessibility Standard, including e.g. on the terms of reference or mandate for the forthcoming Education Standards Development Committee.

10. We ask the Government to now keep its decade-old election promises to

a) reach out to self-governing professions (which certain should include teachers) to include disability inclusion and accessibility training in their professional training, and

b) create school curriculum on disability accessibility and inclusion.

4. Helpful Links and Resources

For the June 16, 2017 AODA Alliance Update, which offers tips for people filling out the Government's online survey of disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system.

For the June 19, 2017 AODA Alliance Update, offering tips to educational organizations in Ontario, when they organize a public meeting or forum on disability accessibility barriers in educational organizations.

For more background on our campaign to win the enactment of a strong Education Accessibility Standard to tear down the many disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system.

To read the AODA Alliances Discussion Paper that explains what we would like the promised Education Accessibility Standard to include.
  
To learn how to apply before July 31, 2017 to sit on the Government-appointed Education Standards Development Committee.

You can always send your feedback to us on any AODA and accessibility issue at aodafeedback@gmail.com

Have you taken part in our "Picture Our Barriers campaign? If not, please join in! You can get all the information you need about our "Picture Our Barriers" campaign.

To sign up for, or unsubscribe from AODA Alliance e-mail updates, write to: aodafeedback@gmail.com

We encourage you to use the Government's toll-free number for reporting AODA violations. We fought long and hard to get the Government to promise this, and later to deliver on that promise. If you encounter any accessibility problems at any large retail establishments, it will be especially important to report them to the Government via that toll-free number. Call 1-866-515-2025.

Please pass on our email Updates to your family and friends.

Why not subscribe to the AODA Alliance's YouTube channel, so you can get immediate alerts when we post new videos on our accessibility campaign.

Please "like" our Facebook page and share our updates.
 
Follow us on Twitter. Get others to follow us. And please re-tweet our tweets!! @AODAAlliance

Learn all about our campaign for a fully accessible Ontario by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org