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Accessibility Training for College and University Administrators and Senior Leadership

Currently, there are no AODA education standards. However, two AODA standards development committees have drafted recommendations of guidelines that AODA education standards should include. One committee has recommended guidelines for the kindergarten to grade twelve (K-12) education system. In contrast, the other committee has recommended guidelines for the university and college education system. In this article, we outline the Postsecondary Committee’s recommended accessibility training for college and university administrators and senior leadership.

The committee’s mandate from the Ontario government requires recommendations focused on publicly-funded colleges and universities. However, students and educators with disabilities also face barriers in other education settings, including:

  • Privately-funded colleges and universities
  • Transitional job training programs

Therefore, all these settings should comply with the forthcoming postsecondary education standards.

Accessibility Training for College and University Administrators and senior leadership

In addition to accessibility training recommended for all college and university employees, the Committee recommends specific training for administrators and senior leadership, such as:

  • Trustees
  • Members of boards or senates

These individuals should learn about organizational barriers, or how school policies can negatively impact students and staff. For instance, late hiring of contract faculty can limit their ability to prepare accessible course content for students. Likewise, limited funding for accessibility training can also lessen the quality of students’ learning.

Moreover, administrators and senior leadership should know that the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) holds an organization’s leaders liable for discrimination by its members. For example, if faculty fail to provide accessible course content or refuse to accommodate, the Code may hold senior leadership responsible. Furthermore, leaders should learn about allyship, or how non-disabled allies can help to reduce ableism and discrimination.

Finally, this training must be anti-oppressive and intersectional. For example, training should alert administrators and senior leadership that many people with disabilities also have other intersecting identities protected from discrimination under the Code.

Administrators and senior leadership must renew this training every three (3) years.