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Accessible Information in Education

The AODA does not yet have an education standard. Two committees are making recommendations about what an education standard should include. In the meantime, however, there are still AODA requirements for educational institutions to follow. Educational institutions must follow the regulations in the Information and Communications Standards that apply to other organizations. In addition, there are also regulations especially for educational institutions. Accessible information in education makes school settings welcoming to students, parents, and workers with disabilities. Educational institutions that need to make information accessible are:

  • Public and private schools
  • School boards
  • Colleges
  • Universities
  • School libraries
  • Producers of educational or training materials, such as textbook publishers

Accessible Information in Education

Under the Information and Communications Standards, producers of educational materials must make textbooks available in accessible formats. They will need to make all other educational or training materials available in accessible formats by January 1st, 2020. For instance, materials that will need to be produced accessibly include:

  • Handouts or lecture notes
  • Student records and information on program requirements
  • Other classroom materials that are visual in nature, such as maps or globes

Moreover, educational institutions must also provide accessible versions of all resources that they buy, borrow, or create. They must do so:

How to Make Educational Materials Accessible

Institutions may make some materials accessible themselves. For instance, school staff can:

  • Photo-copy handouts in large print
  • Emboss them on a Braille printer
  • Post course outlines or calendars on websites
  • Record audio versions of print book excerpts
  • Create tactile maps, diagrams, or pictures

Alternatively, institutions may need to contract third-party companies to produce other materials, such as Braille textbooks or tactile maps. Producers of educational materials must provide them in formats that are either accessible or conversion-ready so that other people can complete the conversion process. Producers that cannot make a material accessible must explain to their client why they cannot do so. Then, they must provide summaries of everything they cannot convert.

Our next article will explore how stronger information standards in education can more fully support students with disabilities.