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Consultation and Training to Implement Accessibility Standards in Education

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 the need for consultation and training to implement accessibility standards in education.

The committee’s mandate from the Ontario government requires recommendations focused on the publicly-funded K-12 school system. However, students and educators with disabilities also face barriers in other school settings, including:

  • Private schools
  • Pre-school programs, such as early literacy programs

Therefore, all these settings should comply with the forthcoming K-12 education standards.

Consultation and Training to Implement Accessibility Standards in Education

Many of the Committee’s recommendations require schools, school boards, or the Ministry of Education to consult with:

  • Students with disabilities
  • Their families
  • Organizations serving people with disabilities
  • Members of the public

Some consultations are specific to each student and their family. For instance, students, parents, school staff, and others should take part in consulting about each student’s:

However, other recommendations are larger in scale and impact entire schools and school boards. These recommendations require each school board to consult with students with disabilities, or organizations serving people with disabilities. For example, these recommendations requiring consultation include:

School boards need to consult people with lived experience of disability to learn about and mitigate the many accessibility barriers in the school system. However, people with disabilities should not need to consult with every school board to provide the same information many times. Instead, school boards and the government should work together to reduce the need for repeated consultations. For example, the Ministry of Education could streamline consulting processes, consult with students and others about how to implement these recommendations, and share the results of these consultations with school boards.

Training Resources

Similarly, the Ministry should also streamline the implementation of recommended training and professional development for educators of students with disabilities. For example, the Ministry could create templates outlining the topics that training should cover. These templates would reduce the need for school boards to request repeated consultations with students or others who have disabilities. Instead, people with disabilities should help to conduct training, as professionals with expert knowledge. Training should not only be led by people with disabilities, but should also take place in person.

In addition, school staff need time and resources to implement the many forms of training the Committee recommends. For example, once teachers and other staff receive their training on human rights or assistive technology, they should have time to plan how they will use this training with their students.