ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

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United for a Barrier-Free Ontario

Wynne Government Still Hasn't Appointed an Education Standards Development Committee, Fully 314 Days After Premier Wynne Pledged to Create an Education Accessibility Standard under Ontario's Disabilities Act
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Last Day to Complete the Wynne Government's Online Survey about Disability Barriers in Ontario's Education System

October 16, 2017

Summary

Over one third of a million students with disabilities across Ontario still face far too many disability accessibility barriers when they try to get an education in Ontario's education system, whether they are studying in early learning programs, in schools in colleges or universities, or in job training programs. We need your help to change this. To help us, please:

* Ask your member of the Ontario Legislature to press Premier Wynne to now appoint the promised Education Standards Development Committee, so it can start coming up with recommendations on what the promised Education Accessibility Standard should include, and

* Be sure to fill out the Wynne Government's online survey on disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system.

* Give us ideas on what voters should ask candidates for school board trustee across Ontario next year as a Special Education Pledge".
It was the AODA Alliance that came up with the idea of creating an Education Accessibility Standard in Ontario. We have led the campaign to get the Wynne Government to agree to develop an Education Accessibility Standard. We now lead the campaign to get the Government to keep its promise to do so.

MORE DETAILS

1. Press Your MPP to Call for An End to the Wynne Government's Interminable Delay in Appointing the promised Education Standards Development Committee

Please contact your member of the Ontario Legislature. Press them to ask Premier Wynne to end the delays, and to now appoint the promised Education Standards Development Committee.

Fully 314 days, over ten months, have now passed since Premier Wynne promised on December 5, 2016 that her Government would create an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The promised Education Accessibility Standard is needed to tear down the many disability accessibility barriers that now impede students with disabilities in Ontario.

The first step that the Government must take to create that accessibility standard is to appoint the long-overdue Education Standards Development Committee under the AODA. That committee will come up with recommendations for the Government to consider, on what to include in the promised Education Accessibility Standard.

Because of this inordinate delay, we have tweeted a daily count regarding this delay on Twitter. We direct our tweets to MPPs from all parties in the Ontario Legislature.

The Wynne Government's delay hurts one third of a million or more students with disabilities in Ontario who are left to continue facing so many disability accessibility barriers when they try to benefit from Ontario's education system. It works against those who work in Ontario's education system who want to ensure that students with disabilities get a fair shake. It pushes Ontario further and further behind schedule for reaching full accessibility by 2025, the deadline that the AODA makes mandatory.

The Wynne Government's delay is inexcusable. After Premier Wynne made her commendable December 5,2016 pledge to create an Education Accessibility Standard, the Government delayed an excessive six months before it even began to invite the public to apply to serve on the Education Standards Development Committee. Had it promptly posted that ad last winter, we would not be in this pickle. We had to vigorously advocate for months, to get that foot-dragging to come to an end.

It took the Government those excessive six months to create its online survey of disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system, addressed further below. The Government did not need to wait until that survey was created, before it advertised for people to apply to serve on the Education Standards Development Committee.

As also noted below, that survey leaves out a clear majority of the barriers that students with disabilities now face. It took the AODA Alliance a much, much shorter time to devise a much more inclusive list of questions for people to answer, in order to give a full and complete picture of all the disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system. As far as we know, the Government has never publicized our broader list of questions and encouraged individuals and community organizations to consider using our added list of questions, when answering the Government's online survey. We had asked the Government to encourage people to consider using our tips when answering the Government's survey.

The Government has had ample time to select the people it will appoint to the Education Standards Development Committee. The deadline to apply to serve on that Committee was back on July 31, some two and a half months ago. The Government pre-screened applications in mid-August to decide whom to interview. It was conducting interviews during the last week or two of August. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, who has applied to serve on the Education Standards Development Committee, was interviewed back on August 29, 2017.

The Government can move more quickly. The Government took the unusual step of hiring an outside human resources firm, HR Associates, to assist, e.g. with the pre-screening, with scheduling interviews, and taking part on interview panels. This outside support adds more person hours to the team of public servants working on this interview process. All we have heard from the Government on this delay comes from HR Associates which emailed AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on October 3, 2017 as follows:

"Dear David.

Thank you for your recent participation in an interview for membership of a Standards Development Committee for Education.

The Committee selection process is still underway and applications are still being considered. All applicants will be contacted regarding the results of the selection process once it is complete.

Thank you again for your interest in contributing to Ontario's accessibility efforts.

Best Regards,

HR Associates
on behalf of the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario"

This delay all comes over two years after the Government hired the KPMG firm to prepare a report for the Wynne Government on disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system. Using our own volunteer effort, we have offered a detailed critique of the KPMG Report, and a detailed Discussion Paper on what the promised Education Accessibility Standard should include. Both of our offerings were made public eleven months ago, in November 2016.

Why all this delay after delay? We know the Wynne Government is capable of prompt, decisive action when it wants.

The AODA Alliance aims to help mobilize Ontario voters, including the third of a million or more families of Ontario's students with disabilities. We aim for them to raise accessibility issues during the next election campaign, including on the need for swift action to address the many disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system. Stay tuned for more on this over the next weeks and months.

We are also still pressing the Wynne Government to commit not to try to hog-tie that Education Standards Development Committee, once it is appointed. Our earlier Updates and our ongoing Twitter campaign have emphasized our concern that the Government had been planning to impose restrictions on the range of disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system that the Education Standards Development Committee can consider. This would serve to cut the needs of some students with disabilities out of the discussion, before the discussion begins. So far, the Government has not publicly made this commitment.

2. Fill Out the Wynne Government's Online Survey of Disability Barriers in Ontario's Education System Today!

The Ontario Government says that today is your last day to fill out the Government's online survey, where you can tell the Government about the disability accessibility barriers that students with disabilities face in Ontario's education system. If you have not done so already, please complete that survey today. Instructions on how to complete the survey, and helpful tips, are all available to you at.

If you don't have time to complete the Government's entire survey, you might just wish to send the Government a short email, saying if you endorse the AODA Alliance's July 10, 2017 answers to that survey. Our answers built on feedback from our supporters. You can read the AODA Alliance's July 10, 2017 answers to the Ontario Government's online survey about disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system.

Send the Government your email to the following Government address:

AODA.input@ontario.ca

We have pointed out to the Government and the public that the Wynne Government's online survey leaves out a clear majority of the disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system. It focuses people's attention only on a minority of those disability accessibility barriers. It is very important to tell the Government about all the disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system, not just the limited range of barriers on which the Government's survey focuses.

Even if the Government takes down its online survey from the internet after today, we encourage anyone who did not fill it out by then to email the Government with your feedback on disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system. We will leave the Government's questions up on the AODA Alliance's website as well as our tips on how to answer it. As far as we know, the Government's email address AODA.input@ontario.ca will remain open to receiving your emails, even after October 16, 2017.

3. Send Us Your Ideas on a "Special Education Pledge" that Ontario Voters Can Ask Candidates for School Board Trustee in Next Fall's School Board Elections in Ontario 

In the 2018 fall will be the next Ontario municipal elections. That will include an election for school trustees both in Ontario's public schools and Catholic schools.

The AODA Alliance intends to develop a proposed special education pledge for any candidates running for school board trustee in Ontario next year. We welcome your suggestions on what that special education pledge should include. We will later publicize it, and encourage everyone to try to get all candidates for school board trustee to make that pledge.

Send your ideas to us at:
aodafeedback@gmail.com

Or tweet your ideas to us on Twitter tagging your tweet with @AODAAlliance

4. Helpful Background Resources and Links

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 read tips we offer school boards and other educational organizations on how to hold a public forum on disability accessibility barriers in Ontario's education system.

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 by visiting www.aodaalliance.org/2016

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