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 addition, some members from both committees have joined to form the Education Technical Sub-Committee. This Sub-Committee recommends guidelines to prevent and remove barriers students face during transitions. Transitions include beginning school, between elementary school and high school, and from high school to work, community life, or postsecondary education. In this article, we outline the Sub-Committee’s recommendations for financial support in school transitions of students with disabilities.
Financial Support in School Transitions of Students with Disabilities
The Sub-Committee recommends that the Ministry of Education should work with other departments, including the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCSS). These and other ministries should provide all schools with details about financial supports and services for people with disabilities, including:
- Developmental services Ontario
- The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)
- The Bursary for Students with Disabilities (BSWD) through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP)
- The Canada Student Grant for Services and Equipment for Students with Permanent Disabilities (CSG-PDSE)
These programs give many people with disabilities the support or financial independence to make decisions for their lives. Every transitioning student and their family should learn whether they are eligible for these programs, and how to apply. For example, school boards should alert students with individual education plans (IEPs) in grade seven (7) or above about Developmental Services Ontario and ODSP. Alerting students, staff, and families at this stage gives them a clearer understanding about the supports they or their child can access as adults. Likewise, school boards should inform students with IEPs in grade nine (9) and above about the BSWD and CSG-PDSE. In addition, students should receive reminders about these programs before they graduate from high school. These programs can provide financial support in university or college for:
- Living expenses
- Equipment or services, such as assistive technology or note-taking
In addition, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities should provide alternative funding options for students who are not eligible for OSAP. These options should also support students with disabilities and education-related costs that their OSAP funding cannot meet.