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Accessibility Training for College and University Disability Services Staff

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 disability services staff.

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 Disability Services Staff

In addition to accessibility training recommended for all college and university employees, the Committee recommends specific training for staff who work in their colleges’ or universities’ offices providing services to students with disabilities. These disability services staff should have more in-depth training on ableism, discrimination, and microaggressions, especially as experienced by employees who have disabilities. Furthermore, leaders should learn about allyship, or how non-disabled allies can help to reduce ableism and discrimination. Moreover, these individuals should learn more about the Accessibility barriers common to college and university, including:

For example, staff should recognize social effects of these barriers, including how constant advocacy to acquire accommodations impacts students emotionally. Similarly, staff should learn about simple procedures for reporting barriers, such as to an ombudsman’s office.

Finally, this training must be anti-oppressive and intersectional. For example, training should alert disability services staff that many people with disabilities also have other intersecting identities protected from discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Disability services staff must renew this training every three (3) years.