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Improved Documentation of Disability in School Transitions

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, and from high school to work, community life, or postsecondary education. In this article, we outline the Sub-Committee’s recommendations for improved documentation of disability in school transitions.

Improved Documentation of Disability in School Transitions

There is no standard process for college and university students to request and receive accommodations. Instead, each college or university develops its own process for students to prove their disability and identify appropriate accommodations. For instance, different schools may require different forms of proof, including:

  • Forms or letters from healthcare professionals
  • Assessments

However, each school may require a different type of assessment, or proof from specific specialists. Moreover, students transferring between schools may need to comply with multiple documentation processes. Therefore, the Sub-Committee recommends that the Ministry of Colleges and Universities should work with each school to develop a standardized process for students to document their disabilities.

The Ministry should work with staff from each school’s accessibility office to ensure that the school’s policy for documenting disability is similar to other schools’ policies. These policies should make it easier for students transitioning from high school to document their disabilities. For example, a student’s individual education plan (IEP) could act as proof of disability. Alternatively, students without sufficient proof of disability should know what documentation they will need. The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Colleges and Universities should ensure that these students contact their prospective college or university’s accessibility office. This office should then implement interim accommodations until the student’s documentation arrives.

Furthermore, students should not need to disclose their medical diagnoses to document their disabilities. Instead, students can provide information about functions they perform differently, in order to plan their accommodations. Colleges and universities should make these requirements public, such as on their accessible websites. In this way, prospective students could easily learn the requirements early, and comply with them in a timely manner.

Finally, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities should ensure that funding for documentation and assessment adheres to principles in the Ontario Human Rights Code.