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 recommended guidelines for school board networks of staff and students with disabilities.
School Board Networks of Staff and Students with Disabilities
The Committee recommends that every school board should develop a network of staff members who have disabilities. Staff members may be teachers or other school-board workers. Likewise, the Committee recommends that every school board should create a network of students with disabilities. These networks will identify accessibility barriers within their school boards, including:
- Physical or architectural barriers
- Information or communication barriers
- Technology barriers
- Organizational barriers
- Attitudinal barriers
For instance, networks could point out pages on a board’s website that are not compatible with accessible hardware or software. Similarly, networks could identify problems with their board’s service animal policy. Once networks identify barriers, they should help their school boards determine how to remove these barriers. Moreover, the Ministry of Education should promote communication between the networks in different school boards. Staff and students from other regions can learn from each other about barriers they encounter. For instance, one school board could show another how to develop a policy to ensure accessible communication with parents or guardians.
These school board networks of staff and students with disabilities may also help to create and update policies, programs, and curriculum, so that new and improved versions will not contain barriers. If network members provide feedback on these documents and plans, school board officials will learn how to support the work and learning of future staff and students with disabilities.
Finally, network members may also make presentations to their schools, school boards, or the Ministry of Education. For example, a student or staff member may visit another school, to explain how their own school accommodates their accessibility needs. Alternatively, network members may present to the school board, to help trustees understand how their disabilities impact their every-day lives. These presentations will help other staff and students have a more accessible school experience.