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On Monday, May 4, 2020 at 3 pm Eastern Time, Login and Take Part in a New Online Virtual Town Hall on How Teachers and Parents Can Try to Meet the Learning Needs of Students with Disabilities While Schools are Closed Due to the COVID-19 Crisis

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
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April 30, 2020


On Monday Afternoon, May 4, 2020 from 3 to 4 pm Eastern time, please use your computer, smart phone, tablet or smart TV to attend the Virtual Town Hall that the AODA Alliance and Ontario Autism Coalition are jointly organizing and hosting. We will talk to experts on how parents and teachers can try to overcome the additional hardships that students with disabilities are facing during the COVID-19 crisis, while schools are closed and their schooling has moved online. We will offer constructive tips on what can be done in the face of these additional hardships. Hosting and moderating the discussion will be OAC President Laura Kirby-McIntosh and AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky.

Three weeks ago, on April 7, 2020, the AODA Alliance and the OAC teamed up to hold a very successful and widely-viewed virtual town hall meeting on how the Government should address the urgent needs of all people with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. We’re at it again! This time, we’re focusing specifically on actions needed now in Ontario’s education system, a topic we only briefly covered in our last Virtual Town Hall.

The link to watch our upcoming Virtual Town Hall is
Nothing will be streaming at that link until the moment we start streaming this new Virtual Town Hall. If you click on that link just before we start streaming, you may get our stream automatically coming to you once we start, or you may have to monitor for a new link to click when we start. That will depend on your settings. Just keep at it till you start receiving our event.

Within hours of this new event finishing, we will post the entire event on Youtube and will circulate another link for that video. That will enable you to watch our event afterwards, even if you missed it while it was streaming live.

We’re grateful that the Ontario Autism Coalition will provide captioning for this event. Please spread the word about our May 4, 2020 Educating Students with Disabilities During COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall, by social media, email and any other way you can. Email us with ideas on what we should discuss. Tell us in advance about the barriers students with disabilities are facing. Please understand that we cannot answer all those emails; however, we will do our best to cover as many of them as we can with the panelists during this virtual public forum. Send your ideas to

We invite Ontario’s Ministry of Education to assign a senior representative to take part in our Virtual Town Hall and to speak for a few minutes. We would welcome a chance to hear what they are doing, and to have a discussion with them. We invite parents, students, teachers, other school staff, and school boards to watch our Virtual Town Hall and to draw on the ideas that will be shared there for emergency COVID-19 planning.

The Twitter hashtag to use in the lead-up to this new Virtual Town Hall, during it, and afterwards is: #DisabilityUrgent


The Ontario Government had to close Ontario’s publicly-funded schools due to the COVID-19 crisis, and to move schooling online. This created quite a number of serious barriers and hardship for up to one third of a million or more students with disabilities in Ontario schools.

Students with disabilities as well as their parents, teachers, schools and school boards need the Ontario Government to quickly develop and implement a comprehensive action plan to ensure that the urgent needs of students with disabilities are effectively met during the COVID-19 crisis. From what we have seen, no such strong and effective provincial action plan is now in place. The Ontario Government has not committed to develop and implement one.

Ontario’s school boards, schools and teaching staff have been left to flounder on their own to figure out what to do for students with disabilities. They each must re-invent the wheel one school board, or one teacher at a time. This is an ineffective way to address the needs of Ontario’s most vulnerable students.

To try to help fill this huge gap, the AODA Alliance and Ontario Autism Coalition have organized a new grassroots Virtual Town Hall to take place this Monday, May 4, 2020 from 3 to 4 pm. We will ask experts to share ideas with educators and families alike on how to help students with disabilities learn at home, despite the many disability barriers that online learning can create for them. We have called on the Ontario Government to fill this role, and have invited the Government to partner with us in carrying out this event. We will cram into this hour as many action tips as we can.

For more background, check out:

* The April 30, 2020 letter from the AODA Alliance to Ontario’s Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

* The AODA Alliance’s education web page, that documents its efforts over the past decade to advocate for Ontario’s education system to become fully accessible to students with disabilities

* The AODA Alliance’s COVID-19 web page, setting out our efforts to advocate for governments to meet the urgent needs of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis.

* The Ontario Autism Coalition’s web site, to learn about its ongoing advocacy efforts.