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 student health centre 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 Student health centre staff
In addition to accessibility training recommended for all college and university employees, the Committee recommends specific training for staff working in student health services. These staff include any third-party healthcare providers working in student health services under contracts. All these health centre staff should receive training about connections between disability and mental health awareness. Moreover, staff should learn about the barriers students with disabilities face when they access healthcare, including:
- Physical barriers
- Information and communication barriers
- Technology barriers
- Organizational barriers
- Attitudinal barriers
For example, staff might learn about healthcare barriers as documented in the Third Review of the AODA.
Furthermore, if the government enacts healthcare standards under the AODA, staff should receive training on the requirements of those standards. Alternatively, those standards may mandate more training topics for healthcare providers, including staff at college and university student health centres.
Finally, this training must be anti-oppressive and intersectional. For example, training should alert student health centre staff that many people with disabilities also have other intersecting identities protected from discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code.
Student health centre staff must renew this training every three (3) years.