Join the Blitz to Press Candidates Across Ontario for School Board Trustee to Make the “Students with Disabilities Pledge” – Help Ensure Hundreds of Thousands of Students with Disabilities Fully Benefit From Ontario’s Education system

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

www.aodaalliance.org aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance

Join the Blitz to Press Candidates Across Ontario for School Board Trustee to Make the “Students with Disabilities Pledge” – Help Ensure Hundreds of Thousands of Students with Disabilities Fully Benefit From Ontario’s Education system

July 30, 2018

          SUMMARY

Please join the new non-partisan three month blitz that the AODA Alliance launches today. Help us help tear down the many unfair barriers impeding hundreds of thousands of students with all kinds of disabilities in Ontario schools from fully benefitting from a good education.

On October 22, 2018, voters across Ontario will vote for the school board trustees that will run Ontario’s public and Catholic schools for the next four years. Please press all candidates for school board trustee to make the “Students with Disabilities Pledge!” We seek three commitments from each candidate for school board trustee across Ontario:

The Students with Disabilities Pledge for Candidates for School Board Trustee

  1. Do you agree that students with disabilities should be able to fully participate in and benefit from your school board’s education programs in a barrier-free school board?
  1. Do you support your school board establishing a permanent committee of trustees, the “Students with Disabilities Full Participation Committee,” to oversee action to remove and prevent barriers impeding students with disabilities?
  1. Do you support your school board putting in place a comprehensive plan to remove and prevent disability barriers, with six month progress reports?

To help with our blitz, please:

* Contact candidates for public or Catholic school board trustee in your community. Ask them to make the Students with Disabilities Pledge.

On Twitter, tweet school board trustees with the three commitments. Each of the 3 pledges fits in a single tweet. Your tweet might begin with the candidate’s Twitter name, and then include the following wording:

Tweet #1

Do you agree that students with disabilities should be able to fully participate in & benefit from your school board’s education programs in a barrier-free school board? #SWDP #accessibility

Tweet #2

Do you support your school board establishing a permanent committee of trustees, the “Students with Disabilities Full Participation Committee,” to oversee action to remove and prevent barriers impeding students with disabilities? #SWDP #accessibility

Tweet #3

Do you support your school board putting in place a comprehensive plan to remove and prevent disability barriers, with six month progress reports? #SWDP #accessibility

We use the new hashtag #swdp in our tweets about this topic, which is short for “Students with Disabilities Pledge.”

* Let us know which candidates you asked, and whether they make the pledge. Contact us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

* Let your local media know which school board trustees have made the Students with Disabilities Pledge, and which have not. Write a guest column for your local newspaper. Phone in to your local call-in radio station.

* Contact the Special Education Advisory Committee of your local public and Catholic school board. Let them know about your efforts to get school board trustees to make the Students with Disabilities Pledge. Urge them to spread the word about this blitz.

* Circulate this Update to your family and friends. Urge them to help with this campaign.

Below we give you more background. Share that information with candidates, friend, family and the media. Learn more about our ongoing campaign to achieve a fully accessible and barrier-free education system in Ontario for all students with disabilities by visiting www.aodaalliance.org/education

          MORE DETAILS

Ontario publicly-funded schools have about two million students. Of these, over one third of a million are students with special education needs — They have a disability, or are gifted, or both. That number only includes those students with special education needs that school boards have recognized as needing education accommodations. There are no doubt more students with disabilities in Ontario schools who have not been identified or recognized as such.

Students with disabilities include students with any kind of disability, such as a physical disability, a sensory disability (like hearing loss or vision loss), an intellectual disability, a learning disability, a mental health condition, a communication disability, a neurological disability like autism, or any other kind of disability.

These students face all kinds of disability barriers in Ontario schools. These include physical barriers (like steps to get into or around a school), technological barriers (like computers and software used in school that does not accommodate their disability), attitude barriers (like a lack of understanding of how to ensure that students with disabilities can fully participate and fully benefit from the programs in Ontario schools), communication barriers, curriculum barriers, just to name a few. In November 2016, the AODA Alliance made public a Discussion Paper that gives more details on the barriers that students with disabilities in Ontario face.

Ontario has no comprehensive strategy in place to ensure that our education system becomes accessible and barrier-free for students with disabilities.

Ontario’s special education laws are out-of-date. They were largely written before the Charter of Rights and Ontario Human Rights Code guaranteed equal rights in education to students with disabilities.

The former Ontario Government committed to create an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It is still under development. During the 2018 Ontario election, Doug Ford committed: “The Ontario PC Party believes our education system must minimize barriers for students with disabilities, providing the skills, opportunities and connections with the business community that are necessary to enter the workforce.”

This brings us to our new blitz. Each public school board and Catholic school board is governed by a board of locally-elected school board trustees. They serve for a four year term.

In the October 22, 2018 school board election, we want as many school board trustees as possible to commit to supporting the achievement of a fully accessible education system for all students with disabilities and to take action on that commitment.