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 recommendations from the K-12 Committee and the Sub-Committee for school board transitions facilitators.
Transitions Facilitators for Students with Disabilities
School Board Transitions Facilitators
The Committee recommends that each school board should have a transitions facilitator or navigator. This facilitator would:
- Help each student develop their own transition plan
- Create transition resources and training for school and school board staff
In addition, the Ministry of Education should create a hub where facilitators across Ontario could share information. Likewise, students or staff could share resources and suggestions.
The Sub-Committee outlines how facilitators should help students make informed decisions about opportunities to pursue after high school, including:
- Community life
- College or university
For example, facilitators should work with community agencies that provide services to clients with disabilities. As a result, facilitators can help young adults develop skills and services to contribute to their communities.
Furthermore, facilitators should also work with businesses and social service agencies to promote employment options for transitioning students with disabilities. For example, social service agencies can help students research or choose career paths based on their interests and skills. Likewise, these agencies can teach job readiness skills. In addition, facilitators can raise awareness at local businesses about how young adults with disabilities could be a valuable asset to their companies.
Moreover, facilitators should teach students and school staff about the types of support that universities and colleges provide to students with disabilities. Students in grades seven to twelve (7-12), including students aged eighteen to twenty-one (18-21) enrolled in specialized programs, should learn about supports available at college and university. Once a student has chosen the college or university they will attend, their facilitator can help them learn about the specific accommodations that this school provides. Then, the facilitator can help the student find the most appropriate accommodations for them, and access those accommodations once they are enrolled in their chosen program.
Transitions Facilitators or Navigators in Colleges and Universities
Similarly, each college or university should also have a transitions facilitator or navigator. Each of these facilitators should create resources about the accommodations or services available for students with disabilities. Students and staff in the K-12 education sector should have access to these resources. Moreover, facilitators should provide direct support to transitioning students with disabilities. In addition, facilitators should also work with other departments in their schools, to alert them to transitioning students’ needs. For example, some departments that should know more about serving incoming students with disabilities include:
- Admissions and Recruitment
- Student life
Facilitators can help these and other departments recognize and remove accessibility barriers to improve transition outcomes.
Furthermore, there should be a transitions hub for colleges and universities, similar to the proposed K-12 hub, where Facilitators can network with each other and with staff and students. Facilitators across the province, at large and small schools, can receive training, share resources, and develop best practices together. Moreover, both hubs can connect to share information about how best to jointly support the needs of transitioning students.