Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update
United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
The AODA Alliance and Ontario Autism Coalition Are Considering Organizing An Online Virtual Town Hall Event on How to Effectively Teach Students with Different Disabilities at Home During the COVID-19 Crisis – We’re Looking for Your Suggestions on Who Would be Good Speakers
April 24, 2020
Here is a message jointly from two grassroots disability coalitions, the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition:
Teachers and parents all over Ontario are struggling to figure out how to effectively teach students with disabilities at home while schools are closed due to the COVID-19 crisis. They are eager for some practical ideas. The AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition are looking into the possibility of holding another online virtual town hall meeting, this time focusing on action tips for teachers and parents of students with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. As we explore this idea, we’re looking for suggestions of possible speakers from Ontario or elsewhere who can share practical ideas. Please suggest to us good speakers so we can try to hold this online event, which is much needed especially because the Ontario Government is not providing school boards with the help they need for delivering effective distance education to hundreds of thousands of students with disabilities at home. Send your suggestions to:
Please send us the names of people we should consider having on as speakers at a virtual town hall online on how teachers and parents can effectively teach students with different disabilities while they are at home, because of school closures during the COVID-19 crisis. We are looking for possible speakers who can focus on the overall topic, or who can give tips tailored to the needs of a student with a particular disability. This might be someone with ideas for a student who has a learning disability, or an intellectual disability, or a physical disability, or blindness or low vision, or deafness or hearing loss, or a mental health condition, or autism, or a communication disability, or some other disability, or some combination of disabilities. We’re open to consider a speaker who is a teacher, or a parent, or some other person with experience and expertise to share. We are open to possible speakers from inside Ontario or from anywhere else in the world. We have no funds to pay speakers, so we can only consider speakers who are prepared to volunteer to take part in this. We want speakers who can give practical tips that teachers and parents can put right to use.
Two weeks ago, the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition held a very successful online virtual public forum on what the Ontario Government needs to do to address the urgent needs of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. Over 2,000 people watched that event online within 2 weeks of the event. During that event, we only had time to spend a few minutes on the many barriers facing hundreds of thousands of students with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. That is why we are thinking of doing a follow-up event addressing the important issue of education for students with disabilities.
To date, the Ontario Government has not announced a comprehensive plan on how the learning needs of students with disabilities will be met during this crisis. As the COVID-19 emergency raced forward, the Government moved Ontario into the world of online learning without giving Ontario’s many school boards the tools and action tips they need to serve students with disabilities. It’s been over three weeks since the Government announced the move to province-wide online learning. Parents, teachers, and school boards are still being left to flounder.
Ontario’s Ministry of Education is responsible for the delivery of education to two million students in Ontario, including over a third of a million students with special education needs. We believe the Ontario Government should be bringing together helpful tips and action ideas for school boards, teachers, and parents. It should not be left to each school board and each teacher to have to reinvent the wheel in this crisis situation. Premier Ford commendably said he wants to protect the most vulnerable in this crisis. Students with disabilities are clearly among the most vulnerable.
Once we hear responses from our request for ideas for speakers, we will figure out if we can successfully put together this virtual town hall meeting, and will publicize it. We have not yet set a date. We invite the Ontario Government to take over and work with us on this project, as it has far more resources and capacity to make it a success than do we.
To learn more, check out and widely share:
* The AODA Alliance’s efforts on the COVID-19 crisis are available on our COVID-19 web page. Our long-term efforts to make education in Ontario accessible to and inclusive for students with disabilities are available on our education web page.
* The guest column by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky in the April 20, 2020 online Toronto Star, which summarizes our major COVID disability issues in one place.
* The widely viewed April 7, 2020 online Virtual Public Forum on what Government Must Do to Meet the Urgent Needs of People with Disabilities During the COVID crisis.
* The AODA Alliance’s April 14, 2020 Discussion Paper on Ensuring that Medical Triage or Rationing of Health Care Services During the COVID-19 Crisis Does Not Discriminate Against Patients with Disabilities.
* Action tips on how to help ensure that patients with disabilities don’t face discrimination in access to critical health care.
* The April 8, 2020 open letter to Premier Ford, organized by the ARCH Disability Law Centre, voicing concerns about the Ontario Government’s protocol for rationing medical care during the COVID crisis.
* The AODA Alliance’s March 25, 2020 letter to Premier Ford, which has gone unanswered.