Help Make Ontario Schools Accessible for Students with Disabilities Action Kit

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

Web: www.aodaalliance.org Email: aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

Help Make Ontario Schools Accessible for Students with Disabilities Action Kit

June 23, 2021

Help Tear Down the Many Disability Barriers Facing a Third of a Million Students with Disabilities in Ontario Schools

Here’s an important and rare opportunity right now to help tear down the many barriers facing students with disabilities in Ontario schools. A public consultation is underway on this topic from now until September 2, 2021. This Action Kit explains how you can help.

The AODA Alliance has campaigned for over a decade to get the Ontario Government to create a new law that would spell out what barriers must be removed from Ontario’s school system. This regulation would be called the “Education Accessibility Standard.” It would be enacted under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

The Ontario Government committed to enact an Education Accessibility Standard under the AODA. It appointed an advisory committee, the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, to recommend what the Education Accessibility Standard should include.

On June 1, 2021, the Ontario Government made public the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s initial recommendations. This initial report is the most comprehensive top-to-bottom review in a generation of Ontario’s school system from the perspective of students with disabilities. It is 185 pages. Below, you’ll read about the AODA Alliance’s 15-page summary of it, and our 55-page condensed and annotated version of it, for those who don’t have the time to read the whole report.

The Government gave the public to September 2, 2021 to send the Standards Development Committee feedback on its initial recommendations. The Standards Development Committee can use that feedback to refine and finalize its report and recommendations to The Government.

The AODA Alliance supports the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s initial report. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky is a member of that Standards Development Committee and took active part in the development of its initial recommendations, along with all the other members of that Committee.

How You Can Use the Standards Development Committee’s Initial Report

Here is how you can help students with disabilities right now:

  1. Send the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee your feedback on the Standards Development Committee’s report before September 2, 2021. See below for ideas on how to do this.
  1. Your local school board will be giving feedback to the Government on this report. Urge your school board to support the recommendations in this report, and not to try to weaken any of them. Contact your school board trustee to share your thoughts.
  1. Urge your local school board to implement as much of this report as it can right now. School boards don’t have to wait for action by the Ontario Government to create the promised Education Accessibility Standard. Unfortunately, that provincial action may not come for months if not years. School boards can act now. Grassroots pressure can help make that happen.
  1. Contact your school board’s Special Education Advisory Committee. Every school board must have a SEAC to give advice to the school board’s staff and elected trustees. Find their contact info on the school board website, or by asking the school board.

Give your SEAC your feedback on this report. Urge the SEAC to take these three actions:

  1. a) the SEAC should send the Standards Development Committee its feedback on this report by September 2, 2021. SEACs should be supportive of the Standards Development Committee’s report and could offer helpful suggestions on how to refine and supplement those recommendations.
  1. b) the SEAC should advise its school board to support the Standards Development Committee’s recommendations and not to try to get them weakened in any way. A SEAC can try to have a major impact on what feedback the school board sends to the Ontario Government.
  1. c) The SEAC should advise its school board to start to implement the Standards Development Committee’s recommendations now. For example, the SEAC could select key recommendations in the Standards Development Committee’s report that the school board should get an immediate start on.
  1. Tell your member of the Ontario Legislature that Ontario’s Ministry of Education should get to work now on implementing as many of the Standards Development Committee’s recommendations now as it can. Many if not most can be implemented now, if the Government agrees.
  1. Share your feedback with the AODA Alliance. Let us know what steps you take on the ideas we list in this Action Kit. What kind of responses did you get? Write us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

How The AODA Alliance Has Made It Easier for You to Read the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee Report

We’ve made it easier for you to read and give feedback on this important report. Here are three options you have for reviewing what the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee recommended:

  1. If you only have a short time to look at this issue, read the AODA Alliance’s 15-page summary of the Standards Development Committees report, which is available on the AODA Alliance website at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/15-page-summary-of-the-k-12-education-standards-development-committees-initial-recommendations-summarized-by-the-aoda-alliance/
  1. If you have more time, read the AODA Alliance’s 55-page condensed and annotated version of the Standards Development Committees report, available on the AODA Alliance website at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/55-page-condensed-and-annotated-version-of-the-march-12-2021-initial-report-recommendations-of-the-k-12-education-standards-development-committee-on-what-an-education-accessibility-standard-should-in/
  1. If you have even more time, instead read the entire 185-page report, which is available on the AODA Alliance website in MS Word format at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/download-in-ms-word-format-the-ontario-governments-survey-on-the-initial-or-draft-recommendations-of-the-k-12-education-standards-development-committee/

The best statement of what the Standards Development Committee recommended is in the Committee’s full report. The K-12 Education Standards Development Committee took no part in creating or approving the AODA Alliance’s 15-page summary or its 55-page condensed version of the Committee’s 185-page report. Any summary or condensed version of course leaves out some content. The AODA Alliance is solely responsible for those decisions.

What You Might Say in Your Feedback

The Government has posted an online survey to give feedback, which you are free to use, if you wish. We find it more complicated than helpful. You can also simply write out your feedback in whatever way you wish, and email it to the Standards Development Committee before September 2, 2021 by writing to educationsdc@ontario.ca

If you don’t have time to go through the Government’s online survey, you might find it easiest to answer this short list of questions:

  1. Say if you agree with all the Standards Development Committee’s recommendations. If you disagree with any recommendations, say which ones. Explain why you disagree with them.
  1. Explain which of the recommendations you consider especially important. What are your biggest priorities? Why are they important to you?
  1. If there are any recommendations that you disagree with, explain what the Standards Development Committee might change in those recommendations to improve them.
  1. Are there any recommendations that you would like the Standards Development Committee to add? Did it leave out anything that you consider important?

The entire Committee report is long. If you don’t have the time to review it all, just comment on the parts you have time to read, either in the report itself, or in either of the 2 shorter versions that the AODA Alliance created.

To learn about the campaign that the AODA Alliance has waged for over a decade to win the enactment of a strong and effective Education Accessibility Standard check out the AODA Alliance website’s education page.