Ministry of Education Consultation on Education Accessibility Standard

Deadline Extended – The deadline for feedback has been extended to July 31, 2017 

Ministry of Education Assistant Deputy Minister, Martyn Beckett, has written to education stakeholders asking for input on the proposed Education Accessibility Standard. His memo says:

 “It is important that we address barriers in education that prevent children and students from reaching their full potential. Ontario is committed to supporting the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), and its goal of an accessible Ontario by 2025.

Under this Act, the government has created enforceable standards for accessible customer service, information and communications, transportation, the design of public spaces, and employment.

Many of these standards have already begun to remove barriers in child care facilities and schools. Ontario’s accessibility standards require that accessibility policies be in place, educators are trained on accessible programs and curricula, and that libraries are providing accessible formats. These requirements help ensure that all students have access to the resources they need to learn, and to prepare them for a future in Ontario’s workforce.

An inclusive education system is key to helping all children and students in Ontario reach their potential, and participate in our society and in the job market. In December 2016, the government committed to developing an accessibility standard for education, under the AODA. To support this important goal, the government is working to establish an Education Standard Development Committee (ESDC) in the fall of 2017.”

 To support the development of the Education Accessibility Standard, the Ministry is looking for feedback from stakeholders, including families. You can provide input by responding to the electronic survey. The survey is available at:

English: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/EducationSurveyEN

French: https://fr.surveymonkey.com/r/SondageAccessibilite.

Easter Seals Ontario is also preparing to provide feedback to the Ministry of Education. We need to hear from you about the challenges your child faces at school, and the answers to the following questions:

Theme #1 – Accessibility Awareness and Training

Questions:

  • What could your school, college or university do to improve their awareness and consideration of the accessibility needs of persons with disabilities?
  • What resources or policies have you seen as most effective to support awareness of accessibility needs in your school, college or university?

Theme #2 – Awareness of Accessibility Accommodations – Policies, Processes, and Programs/Supports

Questions:

  • What challenges do students with disabilities face when accessing supports, programs, or services in their school, college or university?
  • In your experience, what resources, tools, or policies are most effective to promote better awareness of available supports and facilitate appropriate accommodations?

Theme #3 – Information, Communication, and Inclusive Decision-Making

Questions:

  • What barriers do students with disabilities or their parents face in participating in decisions that affect accessibility in their schools, colleges or universities?
  • In your experience, what resources, tools, or policies help to promote early engagement by persons with disabilities (or their representatives) in educational decisions and planning?

Theme #4 – Transition Planning

Questions:

  • What challenges do students with disabilities face in transitioning across educational institutions or when completing programs that bridge partner institutions?
  • What challenges do students with disabilities face when planning for employment, for post-secondary education or training, or for community living?
  • In your experience, as a student, parent, or professional, what resources, tools, or policies have been effective to support smooth transitions?

Theme #5 – Inclusive and Accessible Learning Spaces

Questions:

  • What challenges do students, instructors, staff and the public with disabilities face in navigating their educational built environment?
  • In your experience, what resources, tools, or design practices can best support improved accessibility in existing, often older, buildings?
  • What other elements should be considered to enhance the physical accessibility of K-12 schools, colleges and universities?

Other Questions

  • As a student or parent, what other accessibility barriers have you experienced in pursuing your or your child’s education, and how could they be addressed through a new accessibility standard for education?
  • As a professional in the education sector, what other barriers have you experienced in providing an accessible, inclusive education, and how could they be addressed through a new accessibility standard for education?

To provide your feedback to Easter Seals Ontario you can post comments at the end of this article, or you can e-mail your input to amorse@easterseals.org. If you would like to talk to Alison Morse directly, you can leave a message at 1-800-668-6252, Extension 335 and you will be contacted.

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