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 this article, we outline recommendations for instruction on disability and human rights in school.
The committee’s mandate from the Ontario government requires recommendations focused on the publicly-funded K-12 school system. However, students and educators with disabilities also face barriers in other school settings, including:
- Private schools
- Pre-school programs, such as early literacy programs
Therefore, all these settings should comply with the forthcoming K-12 education standards.
Instruction on Disability and Human Rights in School
The Committee recommends that students at all levels of the school curriculum should learn about disability and human rights. Students should learn about accessibility through the lived experience of people with disabilities. For instance, guest speakers with disabilities can describe the accessibility barriers they face, and how to remove or prevent these barriers. In addition, the provincial school curriculum should include lessons on the:
- Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code)
- Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the Charter)
- Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (the AODA)
Lessons should focus on how these laws support the rights of all people to an accessible education. For example, students should learn about the right of students with disabilities to full participation in their schools and in society at large.
Furthermore, students should learn about how people’s disabilities intersect with other marginalized identities, such as:
- Socioeconomic status
For example, people living with disability and poverty may experience intersectional discrimination. Likewise, people who are Black or Indigenous and who also live with disabilities experience the intersection of ableism and racism. Curriculum should teach students to respect the diversity of all people and prevent all forms of discrimination.