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 event planners and hosts.
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 Event planners and hosts
In addition to accessibility training recommended for all college and university employees, the Committee recommends specific training for staff who plan and host events. These event planners and hosts include faculty and staff who organize and host seminars, symposia, colloquia, or conferences. In addition, event planners and hosts include personnel, staff, or volunteers involved in:
- Student Affairs
- Student government, groups, societies, or associations
- Sports or recreation programming
- Residence administration or programming
- Large campus-wide events, such as convocation
Members of third-party organizations hosting events on- or off-campus must also receive training.
Training should take place partly in-person and partly online. Moreover, the training should teach staff and faculty about:
- Their rights and responsibilities under the:
- Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code)
- Postsecondary Education Accessibility Standards
- Other AODA standards
- How to create accessible media
- Any event-related requirements under the Information and Communications Standards
Accessible Event Planning Tool
Furthermore, the Committee recommends that the Ministry of Education should work with colleges and universities to create or locate a tool to guide staff in planning accessible events. This accessible event planning tool should help event planners identify potential accessibility barriers in activities. The tool should also guide event planners in removing and preventing these barriers. For instance, planners can prevent barriers if they plan for the presence of support staff, such as attendants.
The Ministry, colleges, and universities should consult with many stakeholders to create or locate this accessible event planning tool. Once the Ministry has created or located this tool, all staff planning or hosting events at colleges or universities must use the tool to ensure that any in-person or online activities they plan or host are accessible to students with all disabilities. As a result, all people who plan or host events at colleges or universities should receive training on how to use this tool.
Finally, this training must be anti-oppressive and intersectional. For example, training should alert event planners and hosts that many people with disabilities also have other intersecting identities protected from discrimination under the Code.
Event planners and hosts must renew this training every three (3) years.