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 recommendations for definitions of accessibility and other terms in the Postsecondary Education Standards.
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.
Definitions of Accessibility and Other Terms in the Postsecondary Education Standards
In an appendix to its final recommendations, the Committee provides a glossary defining terms related to accessibility and academics. The Committee recommends that the Ministry of Education should use these definitions.
One of the first definitions in the glossary is for the term accessibility. The Committee’s definition of accessibility, and its advice for the Ministry to use this definition, partially fulfill an earlier recommendation related to the AODA. The Third Review of the AODA, published in 2019 but not yet implemented, recommends defining what accessibility means. The review suggests that this definition of accessibility should appear prominently in the AODA, among other definitions. Moreover, the review also suggests that the government outline specific steps organizations can take to make themselves accessible to patrons with disabilities.
If the Ministry of Education uses the Committee’s definition of accessibility, that definition may enter common use and eventually appear prominently in the AODA. Furthermore, many of the Committee’s other definitions should support the Ministry to enhance the accessibility of the education it oversees.