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 funding to implement 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.
Funding to Implement the Postsecondary Education Standards
The Committee recommends that the Ontario government must provide colleges and universities with funding to implement requirements in the Postsecondary Education Standards. Moreover, the government must fund both short-term and long-term goals and initiatives as they support colleges and universities to comply. For example, some of the Standards’ mandates require change across the education system, such as:
Furthermore, other mandates require ongoing investment, such as:
Therefore, the government must determine amounts and timelines of needed funding, based on the Committee’s recommendations. Some of this funding can come from new or expanded grant programs, such as increases to the Enabling Accessibility Fund. However, under the current financial structure, existing financial barriers would remain in place. Moreover, colleges and universities will also need permanent and stable funding to:
- Establish long-term or ongoing programs
- Hire and train new staff
- Support additional costs of implementation for bilingual colleges and universities
Therefore, the government should establish new mechanisms and funding streams to ensure sustainable funding sources for systemic change.
Centre for Excellence
In addition, the government should fund the establishment of a centre for excellence in accessibility. This centre would distribute resources to support colleges and universities in complying with the Standards. Moreover, the centre would support people to gain needed types of technical expertise and other skills relevant to enhancing accessibility at their schools.
Funding for Colleges and Universities
Finally, as colleges and universities budget and allocate funds, they should prioritize support for accessibility. For instance, they should allocate funding toward continued compliance with existing AODA Standards. Likewise, they should designate funding for implementation of the Postsecondary Education Standards, and supporting the success of students and staff with disabilities.