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 this article, we outline recommended guidelines for accessible school events.
Accessible School Events
The Committee recommends that all school events should be accessible for students and staff with disabilities. For example, some of the events that all students and staff should be able to attend are:
- Club meetings
- Sports games
- Other extracurricular activities
- Field trips
- School dances
- Graduation ceremonies or celebrations
These events often take place on school board property. For example, a club may meet in a classroom, or a school dance could happen in the gym. Conversely, these events may also take place in locations the school board does not own. For instance, schools may hold proms or graduations at rented venues. These alternate locations should be physically accessible, so that no students or staff face barriers when entering or moving through the venue.
In addition, travel to school events should also be accessible. For example, if students travel to a school event together on a bus, the bus should be accessible. These buses should have lifting devices or ramps, so that travellers can board using assistive devices, such as wheelchairs or scooters. Moreover, these buses should have space for travellers using assistive devices to ride the buses securely. Furthermore, the Transportation Standards under the AODA have requirements for the accessibility of other features on vehicles, including:
- Grab bars, handholds, handrails, and stanchions
- Floors and carpeted surfaces
- Stop requests and emergency response controls
- Indicators and alarms
These accessibility features allow all students to travel together in the same vehicle.
When school events take place in accessible venues, and students can travel to the events together, all students have access to the benefits of belonging to a group. While inaccessible venues and transportation segregates students with disabilities, accessible events respect all students’ rights to integration and full participation.