Skip to main content Skip to main menu

Disability Barriers for Students with Dyslexia

In the third review of the AODA, the Honourable David Onley recommends needed improvements to the Act. During the public meetings Onley held while preparing his review, attendees outlined many barriers that people with disabilities face. More improvements to the AODA would help to remove existing barriers and prevent future ones. Therefore, in addition to direct recommendations, Onley’s review also includes suggestions from attendees about how to remove these barriers. This article will explore disability barriers for students with dyslexia and ways to remove them.

Disability Barriers for Students with Dyslexia

The review states that forty percent (40%) of students in special education have dyslexia, a learning disability. However, the Ontario Ministry of Education does not require classroom teachers or special education teachers to have training to help them recognize when a student might have dyslexia. The Ministry also does not require teachers to have training that would better equip them to teach these students.  Review attendees suggest that the Ministry should implement sollutions to remove these learning barriers. For instance, the Ministry could:

  • Screen every student in Kindergarten, to identify students with Dyslexia
  • Produce a handbook about dyslexia for teachers

Moreover, attendees at Onley’s review meetings report that there are evidence-based methods to make literacy learning more accessible for students with this disability. These methods also enhance the learning of non-disabled students. Nonetheless, attendees report that the Ontario Ministry of Education does not use these methods. In other words, the Ministry of education trains teachers in ways that support only non-dyslexic students. Review attendees suggest that the Ministry needs to change the curriculum for students in the early grades so that it supports all students.

Universal Design for Learning

A Universal Design for Learning (UDL) approach means teaching in ways that benefit the widest variety of learners. For example, school boards use UDL when they partner with online learning platforms accessible to students who use assistive technology. When school boards and school staff design courses to be accessible from the start, they are better prepared to teach all students.

Attendees at Onley’s review meetings state that schools are starting to use a universal design approach more often. The Ministry of Education can help school boards by designing the curriculum to support the widest variety of learners, including students who have dyslexia and other learning disabilities.