Why Some Parents of Kids With Disabilities are Making the ‘Heart-Breaking’ Choice of At Home Learning


Students with disabilities an afterthought in province’s plan, parent Lisa Thornbury says Julia Knope
CBC News, Aug. 27, 2020

For months, Avery Thornbury, 14, has been looking forward to starting Grade 9 at a new school. In fact, she’s been so excited that she’s had her backpack ready by her front door since June.

“I just want the virus to be done,” she said.

“I just want to go to my school.”

But now ” at least for the foreseeable future ” that’s not going to happen.

Avery has epilepsy, so she has to be monitored for seizures. And with her cognitive delays, her mom Lisa Thornbury, says she’s working at a Grade 2 level.

Because her daughter has to be constantly monitored, Thornbury has decided to opt for Ontario’s online learning option come fall. She says there are holes in the province’s back-to-school plan for students with disabilities.

It’s a choice she calls “heart-breaking,” but ultimately necessary.

“We just thought that the risks outweighed the benefits,” Thornbury said.

Thornbury says she’s spoken to other parents in the same situation who say “they’re really nervous, they’re afraid and they just don’t see that they have any other option.”

Parents of children with disabilities have cited issues such as the wearing of masks, questions about transportation for kids who require aid on school buses and the availability of educational assistants to help their kids when their in the classroom.

On Thursday, Statistics Canada released the results of a survey done in June looking at parents’ concerns since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those who have kids with disabilities expressed higher levels of concern in all areas, particularly when it came to the school year and academic success for their children.

And what has made that even worse, Thornbury says, is what she calls “confusion” and “frustration” around the province’s back-to-school plans for children like Avery.

The plan, which was released on July 31, includes a combination of in-class and at-home learning for high school students, but the province has left room for each school board to tweak its own rules.

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is still finalizing plans for children with disabilities, both for online and in class learning, according to Angela Nardi-Addesa, a system superintendent for special education.

Nardi-Addesa says the TDSB is collaborating with other boards to ensure students with disabilities “will not be discriminated against,” while remaining aware that some may have trouble with wearing masks and physical distancing.

Thornbury says the Halton District School Board, which oversees Avery’s Oakville school, is also still finalizing its plans, leaving “many questions” around transportation, educational assistants, and wearing masks for students with disabilities.

“My daughter can’t wear a mask for longer than 15 minutes without being completely frustrated,” she said.

But the alternative ” sending her to a school where some students aren’t required to wear masks ” felt too risky, leading her to choose online learning, despite the fact that her daughter thrives at school.

“It’s kind of like a lose-lose situation.”

Province allocated $22M for special needs, mental health

The province has promised more than $22 million for special needs and mental health, some of which is coming from the federal government.

But despite that funding, Laura Kirby-McIntosh, a mother, teacher and autism advocate, says the Ford government should have released its back-to-school plans earlier.

“Students like my daughter here, who has an exceptionality, they’re one in six,” Kirby-McIntosh told CBC Toronto Thursday.

“So you have to be planning with these kids in mind from day one ” you can’t leave it to the last minute.”

Her daughter will also be learning online, as her husband is immuno-compromised and is therefore particularly vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.

Kirby-McIntosh is now pushing for more clarity.

“I specifically called the minister of education today to discuss children with special needs,” she said.

“We’re going to make sure they’re able to get in the classroom safely, [and that] they have the same rights as any other child.”

Recreating a classroom setting

Meanwhile, Thornbury is now preparing to have Avery at home for longer than originally anticipated, which means “basically home-schooling” and sitting side-by-side with her during her virtual lessons.

In an effort to recreate the classroom setting, the pair also stick to a rigorous schedule, which includes singing O Canada every day, as well as morning announcements, field trips and recess.

“She thrives in a classroom,” Thornbury said.

And with the added challenge of also fitting her own work into her schedule, Thornbury said it’s going to be hard.

“It’s going to be challenging for sure.”

Original at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/parents-special-needs-back-to-school-1.5702709?ref=mobilerss&cmp=newsletter_CBC%20Toronto_1642_106268




Source link

Small Problems in Every-Day Accessibility


In the third review of the AODA, the Honourable David Onley recommends needed improvements to the Act. One of these improvements is the need to solve problems in every-day accessibility. During the public meetings Onley held while preparing his review, attendees stated that Ontarians do not have enough awareness about how accessibility impacts citizens with disabilities. Instead, the province needs cultural change to foster understanding of how small actions can make life better or worse for citizens with disabilities. Attendees also described some of the small changes that could easily improve their quality of life. As a result, Onley’s review recommends that the government and other organizations begin making the small changes that improve people’s lives.

Small Problems in Every-Day Accessibility in Ontario

Locked Lifts

For example, attendees describe stair-lifts they need to use in buildings with only a few stairs. In Ontario, many of these lifts are old-fashioned models that are locked. As a result, someone needing to travel up two or three stairs must find a staff member and ask for a key. In contrast, modern lifts do not require keys. Moreover, many other regions, including the United States, have banned older lifts and mandated modern ones. This mandate allows people with disabilities to move more freely throughout buildings. Therefore, Onley’s review recommends that the Ontario government should mandate updated stair lifts in buildings.

Slippery Surfaces

Similarly, Onley’s review reports that the paint that designates accessible parking spaces becomes slippery when it is wet. As a result, these parking spaces become dangerous in rain and snow. Therefore, the review recommends that a new type of paint should be used to mark accessible parking spaces. Likewise, attendees state that the restroom floors in ONroute Highway Service Centres are also slippery and dangerous. In contrast, the review points out that restroom floors in other places, like fast food restaurants, are not slippery. Therefore, there are ways to make these locations safer, which more restrooms should be using.

Shortage of Interpreters and Captioners

Moreover, the review reports a shortage of Sign language interpreters and captioners. These professionals provide access to communication for people who have hearing disabilities. As a result, the review recommends that the government mandate more education and training programs for these workers.

Small Signage

Furthermore, the review mentions that larger signs in shopping centres would be helpful for people with intellectual disabilities. Therefore, the review recommends that signage should be accessible. In addition, some other ways to make signage accessible are to:

  • Include detailed information for people with hearing disabilities
  • Use clear language or pictures for people with intellectual disabilities
  • Place signs at eye level for people at wheelchair and standing heights
  • Have large print and good colour contrast for people with visual impairments
  • Include Braille for people who are blind

High Hotel Beds in “Accessible” Rooms

Finally, the review describes hotels claiming that they offer fully accessible rooms. However, many guests find the beds in their accessible rooms too high to access from their assistive devices. As a result, Onley’s review recommends that hotel rooms must offer lower beds in the rooms they advertise as wheelchair-accessible.

Freedom, Safety, and Knowledge for All People

All these problems in every-day accessibility are small and can be easily solved. However, organizations will only solve them, and similar small problems, when they are aware of them. Moreover, organizations should be more aware about the impact these small problems have on the lives of people with disabilities. Solutions to these problems bring people more freedom, safety, and knowledge. All Ontarians deserve to move freely, safely, and knowledgeably. However, when small problems are not solved, only non-disabled Ontarians have these freedoms.




Source link

Canadians with disabilities struggling financially due to coronavirus pandemic: survey – National


More than half of Canadians with disabilities who participated in a crowdsourced survey are struggling to make ends meet because of the financial fallout of the COVID-19 crisis, a new report suggests.

Statistics Canada published findings on Thursday gathered from approximately 13,000 Canadians with long-term conditions or disabilities who voluntarily filled out an online questionnaire between June 3 and July 23.

Read more:
People with disabilities, autism carry a heavier pandemic burden, advocates say

 

Unlike most of the agency’s studies, the survey wasn’t randomly sampled and therefore isn’t statistically representative of the Canadian population.

The responses indicate the pandemic has affected the ability of 61 per cent of participants age 15 to 64 to fulfil at least one financial obligation or essential need, including housing payments, basic utilities and prescription medication.

Story continues below advertisement

Forty-four per cent of respondents reported concerns about paying for groceries, while 40 per cent were worried about the costs of personal protective equipment.






COVID-19 support for people with disabilities inadequate says advocate


COVID-19 support for people with disabilities inadequate says advocate

Nearly one-third of participants said their overall household income has declined since lockdown began. More than half of this group reported losses greater than $1,000 a month.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Of those who were employed prior to the pandemic, 36 per cent said they were laid off or saw their hours cut.

Almost half of participants said they’ve relied solely on non-employment income in the months since the outbreak hit. The most common sources were disability assistance and pandemic-related income supports such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Michael Prince, a professor of social policy at the University of Victoria, said the survey only begins to “scratch the surface” of the potential long-term financial repercussions of the pandemic for people with disabilities.

Story continues below advertisement

He noted that the survey found young people were more likely to likely to have seen employment changes than other age groups, possibly permanently severing their ties to the workforce.

Read more:
Coronavirus: Payments for Canadians with disabilities still in limbo

“There’s some concern that people with disabilities may be some of the last rehired,” Prince said.

A 2017 study by Statistics Canada found that people with disabilities were more likely to live below the poverty line, and those who are employed tend to earn less than their counterparts without disabilities.

The authors of Thursday’s report raised concerns that financial losses linked to the pandemic could put many people with disabilities in an even more vulnerable position.

Earlier this week, the parliamentary budget office reported that Ottawa is spending $792 million on a one-time payment of up to $600 to help 1.67 million people with disabilities.






COVID-19 support for people with disabilities inadequate says advocate


COVID-19 support for people with disabilities inadequate says advocate

Kyle Vose, agency co-chair of the ODSP Action Coalition, noted that many Canadians with disabilities don’t qualify for the payment, and for those that do, the sum is a pittance compared to the extra costs linked to COVID-19.

Story continues below advertisement

“We’re people with disabilities, so we’re used to not getting anything,” Vose said. “We’re just hoping for something.”

Before the pandemic, Vose said, lots of people on the Ontario Disability Support Program were barely scraping by.

Now, Vose said, many are “falling through the cracks” as the prices of essentials such as food, medication and transportation have gone up, and services to support low-income people have been cut back.

Most Canadians are struggling during the pandemic, he said, but for people with disabilities, those burdens are often compounded by accessibility issues that can make meeting basic needs more difficult, and often, more expensive.

“There’s got to be some sort of understanding here, and there doesn’t seem to ever be that understanding.”



© 2020 The Canadian Press





Source link

A Government Strategy for Employing People with Disabilities


In the third review of the AODA, the Honourable David Onley recommends needed improvements to the Act. One of these improvements is a government strategy for employing people with disabilities.

A Government Strategy for Employing People with Disabilities

Strategy Goals

Attendees suggest that this strategy’s main goal should not involve increasing businesses’ awareness about the benefits of employing people with disabilities. While awareness is important, attendees state that the government’s strategy should focus on more specific goals and achieve measurable results. For example, the review recommends that the strategy’s measure of success should be the number of people with disabilities who access employment through its support.

Removing Barriers to Employment

Review attendees make several suggestions about how the government can support job applicants with disabilities and their potential employers in specific ways. For instance, the government could mandate that all online job postings and job descriptions must appear in accessible formats and on accessible websites. Furthermore, the Employment Standards of the AODA could include mandates to prevent or remove physical barriers in workplaces. For instance, some of these mandates could remove barriers in:

  • Buildings
  • Office furniture and equipment
  • Locations of off-site work events

Moreover, the government should also remove organizational barriers that prevent people from seeking employment. For example, people may choose not to search for employment because they fear losing access to:

  • Placement in daytime enrichment programs
  • Drug coverage under the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)

The government can remove this barrier by rapidly re-instating people into these programs if their employment ends or does not provide coverage for needed medication.

In addition, the government should offer more resources to people with disabilities trying to develop skills or find work. For instance, the upcoming education standard could mandate job placement opportunities for students with disabilities.

Similarly, attendees state that many prospective workers who are deaf or hard of hearing face attitudinal barriers. Attendees report that employers often refuse to hire applicants with hearing disabilities, officially for reasons such as:

  • Safety concerns
  • Lack of knowledge about accommodation
  • Assumptions that accommodations are costly enough to create undue hardship

Therefore, attendees suggest more career support and employment services to remove these barriers for potential job-seekers who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Funding

Moreover, the government could improve organizations’ access to funding for workplace accommodations. For instance, the government could require large private organizations to create funds that they could distribute to any of their branches employing people who use accommodations. Likewise, the government could require all small private organizations to contribute to a centralized system of funding to accommodate workers. This strategy could encourage more employers to hire workers with disabilities who could take advantage of their provided funds.

Similarly, when the government buys goods or services, or provides loans or grants, it should offer to do business first with organizations committed to employing people with disabilities. Finally, the government should create a program to publicize and offer incentives to entrepreneurs with disabilities starting their own businesses.

Employment of People with Disabilities in AODA Enforcement

In addition, some of the review’s other recommendations for improving the AODA require the feedback of people with disabilities. As a result, the review recommends that the government hire people with disabilities as integral parts of its efforts to improve and enforce the AODA. For instance, people with disabilities could work for the government to evaluate how effective companies’ AODA training is. Similarly, people with disabilities could work with AODA inspectors, or inspectors in other fields whose inspections could include accessibility. People with lived experience of disability may be more likely to notice AODA violations than inspectors who normally work in other fields. Likewise, if the government creates a resource centre to answer questions about accessibility, this centre could be staffed by people with disabilities.

However, many other people with disabilities will not want or need employment that is specific to the AODA or disability. Instead, people with disabilities, like people without disabilities, may wish to work in many different fields. As a result, Onley’s review recommends that the government should strengthen its strategy for supporting job seekers with disabilities. An improved strategy would support people with disabilities seeking jobs in all fields.




Source link

“Preparing for School Re-Opening — Action Tips for Parents of Students with Disabilities” – And Check Out the Media Coverage It Got – AODA Alliance


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

Web: www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

Watch the Archived Online video of the 3rd COVID-19 Town Hall by the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition Entitled:   “Preparing for School Re-Opening — Action Tips for Parents of Students with Disabilities” – And Check Out the Media Coverage It Got

August 24, 2020

          SUMMARY

 1. Now Available to Watch Online at Any Time! The 3rd AODA Alliance/Ontario Autism Coalition COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall “Preparing for School Re-Opening — Action Tips for Parents of Students with Disabilities”

It is online, archived and ready to watch any time you want! Check out “Preparing for School Re-Opening — Action Tips for Parents of Students with Disabilities.” This is the latest COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall by the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition. If you want to copy and paste the link to the video, it is https://youtu.be/ZB78Wt9TJGk

This online video already includes American Sign Language interpretation. We deeply regret that due to an extremely frustrating technical error that we have not been able to track down, the real time captioning did not stream with the event. We are working on getting captioning embedded into the Youtube video as soon as we can. In the meantime, the less reliable Youtube automated captioning is available.

We and the Ontario Autism Coalition again thank the ARCH Disability Law Centre for arranging and providing the ASL and captioning. ARCH was not in any way responsible for the unfortunate technical failure.

 2. Help Encourage Parents of Students with Disabilities to Watch the Helpful 3rd COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall

In a one hour event, our third Virtual Town Hall crams a ton of helpful practical tips that every parent or guardian of a student with disabilities would like to know. Although it focuses on Ontario, our tips will be helpful to parents of students with disabilities outside Ontario as well.

Here are ways you can help, using just a few moments of your time:

  1. Encourage others who could benefit from it to watch our 3rd Virtual Town Hall. Send the link to anyone you know who might benefit from watching it. This includes parents or guardians of students with disabilities teachers, principals and other school board staff, members of the Ontario legislature and school board trustees, and any education professionals.
  1. Ask your school board to publicize to all parents the link to our 3rd Virtual Town Hall and to post a link to it prominently on its website.
  1. Post the link to our 3rd Virtual Town Hall on your Facebook page, Twitter feed, or other social media. If you are a member of any Facebook groups, you can also help by posting this to those Facebook groups.

For example, you might post this on Facebook:

Are you a parent of a student with disabilities? Do you know parents of any students with disabilities ? Want practical tips for navigating the stressful return to school this fall? Check out the virtual public forum for practical tips by the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition, and please share this with others who might benefit from it. https://youtu.be/ZB78Wt9TJGk

  1. Bring this issue and our 3rd Virtual Town Hall to your local media. Ask them to cover the serious challenges facing parents of students with disabilities as they face the uncertainties of school re-opening. Give them examples of the challenges you know these parents and students now face. Forward this AODA Alliance Update to them. Also encourage them to visit the AODA Alliance’s COVID-19 page where they can see our efforts to get the Ford Government to address the needs of students with disabilities .

 3. Helpful Media Coverage Once Again

With so much going on in the world, the 3rd COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall organized by the AODA Alliance and Ontario Autism Coalition has really struck a note with the media. It has gotten coverage on TV, radio and in print.

The day after the event, it was covered on the August 22, 2020 CTV National News. An excellent Canadian press story on this event was posted on the websites of several major news organizations. The Toronto Star also included a somewhat shortened version of that story in its August 23, 2020 hard copy edition. We set the full article out below as it appeared on the CBC News website.

 4. The Ford Government Gives a Deeply Troubling Response to the Media to Justify Its Failure to Announce a Comprehensive Plan to Ensure that Students with Disabilities are Fully and Safely Included in School Re-Opening

What has the Ford Government said to justify the fact that it still has announced no comprehensive plan for ensuring that one third of a million students with disabilities in Ontario are fully and safely included in the fast-approaching re-opening of schools? Here is what is reported in the Canadian Press article, set out below:

“A spokeswoman for Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the government has allocated $10 million in additional funding specifically dedicated to supporting students with special education needs.

“We are spending more money than any other province on special education,” Caitlin Clark said.”

We wish to respond. First, the ten million dollars that the Ford Government announced this summer for students with disabilities boils down to a meager $34 per student. That paltry amount cannot buy much for a student in the way of additional help or support.

Second, Ontario will always need to spend more than any other province on special education . Ontario has the largest population of any province. It therefore will have the largest number of students with disabilities of any province.

Third, the Ford Government’s answer provides no excuse for its failure to bring forward a comprehensive plan for meeting the needs of students with disabilities during school re-opening. By leaving each of 72 school boards to figure it out, the Ford Government is causing wasteful duplication of effort and tremendous inefficiency in the middle of a pandemic. The Government has been advised of the need for it to create a plan of action for students with disabilities by the AODA Alliance and by many others. Among those giving this advice is the COVID-19 subcommittee of the Government-appointed K-12 Education Standards Development Committee.

Send us your feedback. Let us know how you can help get others to watch our 3rd Virtual Town Hall. Email us at [email protected]

          MORE DETAILS

 CBC News Online August 22, 2020

Originally posted at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/advocates-caution-students-disabilities-more-obstacles-1.5696390

Students with disability face more obstacles amid coronavirus: advocates

Osobe Waberi The Canadian Press

Advocacy groups in Ontario say students with disabilities will face additional obstacles returning to class following the pandemic, leaving parents unsure if their children will be fully and safely included in school reopening plans.

The Ontario Autism Coalition and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance held an online town hall meeting Friday to discuss what they say is the provincial government’s “failure” to put parents at ease with the school year looming.

OAC president Laura Kirby-McIntosh said when it comes to welcoming children with disabilities back to school, the province is doing the bare minimum at best.

“The Ministry of Education’s guide to reopening Ontario schools is not really a plan,” she said in an interview. “What we get is some very nice words.”

Kirby-McIntosh said the province’s school system is designed primarily with non-disabled children in mind, and while children with disabilities are treated as an afterthought.

“One thing that COVID has done very effectively is it has exposed systemic issues across our society — of racism, medical infrastructure — and now we are getting to school infrastructure.”

A spokeswoman for Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the government has allocated $10 million in additional funding specifically dedicated to supporting students with special education needs.

“We are spending more money than any other province on special education,” Caitlin Clark said.

However, Kirby-McIntosh said schools run on more than just money.

“They run on good planning,” she said. “Yes, they are spending more money on schools, but why wait until the third week of August to announce that? I don’t feel that we are ready, it is not good enough.”

AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky said both his group and the Autism Coalition have offered plenty of proposals and advice to the government, before and during the pandemic, in relation to students with special needs.

“Not one public official at the Ministry of Education picked up the phone to ask for more information, and they have done nothing about it,” he said.

Lepofsky said students with disabilities risk not being fully supported during the pandemic and through their education. Even worse, he said, is the looming fear of being told they can not attend in-person learning come the fall school year.

Toronto District School Board spokesman Ryan Bird assured parents that when it comes to students with special needs, the board has a number of congregate sites available for them in the fall.

“These schools specialize in supporting these students and that will continue,” he said, noting the TDSB is trying to get as much information as possible to parents in the upcoming days and weeks.

“We get the frustration from parents, and we understand that there are important decisions to be made in sending your child back to school in September,” he said.

“We realize the time is ticking.”



Source link

Preparing for School Re-Opening Action Tips for Parents of Students with Disabilities


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
Web: http://www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

And Check Out the Media Coverage It Got

August 24, 2020

SUMMARY

1. Now Available to Watch Online at Any Time! The 3rd AODA Alliance/Ontario Autism Coalition COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall “Preparing for School Re-Opening — Action Tips for Parents of Students with Disabilities”

It is online, archived and ready to watch any time you want! Check out “Preparing for School Re-Opening — Action Tips for Parents of Students with Disabilities.” This is the latest COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall by the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition. If you want to copy and paste the link to the video, it is https://youtu.be/ZB78Wt9TJGk

This online video already includes American Sign Language interpretation. We deeply regret that due to an extremely frustrating technical error that we have not been able to track down, the real time captioning did not stream with the event. We are working on getting captioning embedded into the Youtube video as soon as we can. In the meantime, the less reliable Youtube automated captioning is available.

We and the Ontario Autism Coalition again thank the ARCH Disability Law Centre for arranging and providing the ASL and captioning. ARCH was not in any way responsible for the unfortunate technical failure.

2. Help Encourage Parents of Students with Disabilities to Watch the Helpful 3rd COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall

In a one hour event, our third Virtual Town Hall crams a ton of helpful practical tips that every parent or guardian of a student with disabilities would like to know. Although it focuses on Ontario, our tips will be helpful to parents of students with disabilities outside Ontario as well.

Here are ways you can help, using just a few moments of your time:

1. Encourage others who could benefit from it to watch our 3rd Virtual Town Hall. Send the link to anyone you know who might benefit from watching it. This includes parents or guardians of students with disabilities teachers, principals and other school board staff, members of the Ontario legislature and school board trustees, and any education professionals.

2. Ask your school board to publicize to all parents the link to our 3rd Virtual Town Hall and to post a link to it prominently on its website.

3. Post the link to our 3rd Virtual Town Hall on your Facebook page, Twitter feed, or other social media. If you are a member of any Facebook groups, you can also help by posting this to those Facebook groups.

For example, you might post this on Facebook:

Are you a parent of a student with disabilities? Do you know parents of any students with disabilities ? Want practical tips for navigating the stressful return to school this fall? Check out the virtual public forum for practical tips by the AODA Alliance and the Ontario Autism Coalition, and please share this with others who might benefit from it. https://youtu.be/ZB78Wt9TJGk

4. Bring this issue and our 3rd Virtual Town Hall to your local media. Ask them to cover the serious challenges facing parents of students with disabilities as they face the uncertainties of school re-opening. Give them examples of the challenges you know these parents and students now face. Forward this AODA Alliance Update to them. Also encourage them to visit the AODA Alliance’s COVID-19 page where they can see our efforts to get the Ford Government to address the needs of students with disabilities .

3. Helpful Media Coverage Once Again

With so much going on in the world, the 3rd COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall organized by the AODA Alliance and Ontario Autism Coalition has really struck a note with the media. It has gotten coverage on TV, radio and in print.

The day after the event, it was covered on the August 22, 2020 CTV National News. An excellent Canadian press story on this event was posted on the websites of several major news organizations. The Toronto Star also included a somewhat shortened version of that story in its August 23, 2020 hard copy edition. We set the full article out below as it appeared on the CBC News website.

4. The Ford Government Gives a Deeply Troubling Response to the Media to Justify Its Failure to Announce a Comprehensive Plan to Ensure that Students with Disabilities are Fully and Safely Included in School Re-Opening

What has the Ford Government said to justify the fact that it still has announced no comprehensive plan for ensuring that one third of a million students with disabilities in Ontario are fully and safely included in the fast-approaching re-opening of schools? Here is what is reported in the Canadian Press article, set out below:

“A spokeswoman for Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the government has allocated $10 million in additional funding specifically dedicated to supporting students with special education needs.

“We are spending more money than any other province on special education,” Caitlin Clark said.”

We wish to respond. First, the ten million dollars that the Ford Government announced this summer for students with disabilities boils down to a meager $34 per student. That paltry amount cannot buy much for a student in the way of additional help or support.

Second, Ontario will always need to spend more than any other province on special education . Ontario has the largest population of any province. It therefore will have the largest number of students with disabilities of any province.

Third, the Ford Government’s answer provides no excuse for its failure to bring forward a comprehensive plan for meeting the needs of students with disabilities during school re-opening. By leaving each of 72 school boards to figure it out, the Ford Government is causing wasteful duplication of effort and tremendous inefficiency in the middle of a pandemic. The Government has been advised of the need for it to create a plan of action for students with disabilities by the AODA Alliance and by many others. Among those giving this advice is the COVID-19 subcommittee of the Government-appointed K-12 Education Standards Development Committee.

Send us your feedback. Let us know how you can help get others to watch our 3rd Virtual Town Hall. Email us at [email protected]

MORE DETAILS

CBC News Online August 22, 2020

Originally posted at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/advocates-caution-students-disabilities-more-obstacles-1.5696390 Students with disability face more obstacles amid coronavirus: advocates Osobe Waberi The Canadian Press

Advocacy groups in Ontario say students with disabilities will face additional obstacles returning to class following the pandemic, leaving parents unsure if their children will be fully and safely included in school reopening plans.

The Ontario Autism Coalition and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance held an online town hall meeting Friday to discuss what they say is the provincial government’s “failure” to put parents at ease with the school year looming.

OAC president Laura Kirby-McIntosh said when it comes to welcoming children with disabilities back to school, the province is doing the bare minimum at best.

“The Ministry of Education’s guide to reopening Ontario schools is not really a plan,” she said in an interview. “What we get is some very nice words.”

Kirby-McIntosh said the province’s school system is designed primarily with non-disabled children in mind, and while children with disabilities are treated as an afterthought.

“One thing that COVID has done very effectively is it has exposed systemic issues across our society of racism, medical infrastructure and now we are getting to school infrastructure.”

A spokeswoman for Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the government has allocated $10 million in additional funding specifically dedicated to supporting students with special education needs.

“We are spending more money than any other province on special education,” Caitlin Clark said.

However, Kirby-McIntosh said schools run on more than just money.

“They run on good planning,” she said. “Yes, they are spending more money on schools, but why wait until the third week of August to announce that? I don’t feel that we are ready, it is not good enough.”

AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky said both his group and the Autism Coalition have offered plenty of proposals and advice to the government, before and during the pandemic, in relation to students with special needs.

“Not one public official at the Ministry of Education picked up the phone to ask for more information, and they have done nothing about it,” he said.

Lepofsky said students with disabilities risk not being fully supported during the pandemic and through their education. Even worse, he said, is the looming fear of being told they can not attend in-person learning come the fall school year.

Toronto District School Board spokesman Ryan Bird assured parents that when it comes to students with special needs, the board has a number of congregate sites available for them in the fall.

“These schools specialize in supporting these students and that will continue,” he said, noting the TDSB is trying to get as much information as possible to parents in the upcoming days and weeks.

“We get the frustration from parents, and we understand that there are important decisions to be made in sending your child back to school in September,” he said.

“We realize the time is ticking.”




Source link

Employing People with Disabilities


In the third review of the AODA, the Honourable David Onley recommends needed improvements to the Act. One of these improvements is the need for a government strategy to increase the employment of people with disabilities. Onley’s review states that in 2017, the previous Ontario government created a broad strategy. Moreover, this strategy had the important goals of focusing on people and supporting organizations employing people with disabilities. However, Onley’s review states that this strategy did not detail steps toward achieving these goals. As a result, the review recommends that the government improve its strategy for employing people with disabilities. For instance, the review recommends that the government:

Employing People with Disabilities

A 2017 survey on disability in Canada states that during that year, only fifty-eight percent (58%) of people with disabilities of working age were employed. In contrast, eighty-one percent (81%) of non-disabled people in the same age group were working. Onley’s review states that many more people with disabilities should be working. During the public meetings Onley held while preparing his review, attendees stated that many people with disabilities are able and willing to work. For example, some of the disabilities that able and willing workers may have are:

However, people with these and other disabilities face many barriers when they search for employment. For instance, some of these barriers are:

Despite these barriers, there are many advantages to employing people with disabilities. Firstly, as society ages, more people will retire. As a result, the workforce will need more people. Secondly, employing people with disabilities is good for the economy. Currently, many of the people with disabilities who are unemployed must receive government assistance. In contrast, when these people find work, they will be able to contribute to the economy through their jobs and increased purchasing power.

A Government Strategy for Employing People with Disabilities

In response to these statistics and barriers, the government started to implement a strategy to increase employment of people with disabilities. The strategy aims to support more people with disabilities seeking employment, as well as employers hoping to hire them. However, Onley’s review recommends that the strategy should be more detailed and offer programs and funding that prospective workers and employers need.

Our next article will outline the review’s recommendations about what this improved strategy should include.




Source link

Students With Disabilities Face More Obstacles Returning to Class: Advocates


Osobe Waberi, The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, August 22, 2020

TORONTO — Advocacy groups in Ontario say students with disabilities will face additional obstacles returning to class following the pandemic, leaving parents unsure if their children will be fully and safely included in school reopening plans.

The Ontario Autism Coalition and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance held an online town hall meeting Friday to discuss what they say is the provincial government’s “failure” to put parents at ease with the school year looming.

OAC president Laura Kirby-McIntosh said when it comes to welcoming children with disabilities back to school, the province is doing the bare minimum at best.

“The Ministry of Education’s guide to reopening Ontario schools is not really a plan,” she said in an interview. “What we get is some very nice words.”

Kirby-McIntosh said the province’s school system is designed primarily with non-disabled children in mind, and while children with disabilities are treated as an afterthought.

“One thing that COVID has done very effectively is it has exposed systemic issues across our society — of racism, medical infrastructure — and now we are getting to school infrastructure.”

A spokeswoman for Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the government has allocated $10 million in additional funding specifically dedicated to supporting students with special education needs.

“We are spending more money than any other province on special education,” Caitlin Clark said.

However, Kirby-McIntosh said schools run on more than just money.

“They run on good planning,” she said. “Yes, they are spending more money on schools, but why wait until the third week of August to announce that? I don’t feel that we are ready, it is not good enough.”

AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky said both his group and the Autism Coalition have offered plenty of proposals and advice to the government, before and during the pandemic, in relation to students with special needs.

“Not one public official at the Ministry of Education picked up the phone to ask for more information, and they have done nothing about it,” he said.

Lepofsky said students with disabilities risk not being fully supported during the pandemic and through their education. Even worse, he said, is the looming fear of being told they can not attend in-person learning come the fall school year.

Toronto District School Board spokesman Ryan Bird assured parents that when it comes to students with special needs, the board has a number of congregate sites available for them in the fall.

“These schools specialize in supporting these students and that will continue,” he said, noting the TDSB is trying to get as much information as possible to parents in the upcoming days and weeks.

“We get the frustration from parents, and we understand that there are important decisions to be made in sending your child back to school in September,” he said.

“We realize the time is ticking.”

Original at https://www.cp24.com/news/students-with-disabilities-face-more-obstacles-returning-to-class-advocates-1.5075009




Source link

Students with disabilities face more obstacles returning to class, Ontario advocates say


TORONTO — Advocacy groups in Ontario say students with disabilities will face additional obstacles returning to class following the pandemic, leaving parents unsure if their children will be fully and safely included in school reopening plans.

The Ontario Autism Coalition and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance held an online town hall meeting Friday to discuss what they say is the provincial government’s “failure” to put parents at ease with the school year looming.

OAC president Laura Kirby-McIntosh said when it comes to welcoming children with disabilities back to school, the province is doing the bare minimum at best.

“The Ministry of Education’s guide to reopening Ontario schools is not really a plan,” she said in an interview. “What we get is some very nice words.”

Read more:
‘I need help’: Coronavirus highlights disparities among Canadians with disabilities

Story continues below advertisement

Kirby-McIntosh said the province’s school system is designed primarily with non-disabled children in mind, and while children with disabilities are treated as an afterthought.

“One thing that COVID has done very effectively is it has exposed systemic issues across our society — of racism, medical infrastructure — and now we are getting to school infrastructure.”

A spokeswoman for Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the government has allocated $10 million in additional funding specifically dedicated to supporting students with special education needs.

“We are spending more money than any other province on special education,” Caitlin Clark said.

However, Kirby-McIntosh said schools run on more than just money.

“They run on good planning,” she said. “Yes, they are spending more money on schools, but why wait until the third week of August to announce that? I don’t feel that we are ready, it is not good enough.”






Pandemic hard on children with autism


Pandemic hard on children with autism

AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky said both his group and the Autism Coalition have offered plenty of proposals and advice to the government, before and during the pandemic, in relation to students with special needs.

Story continues below advertisement

“Not one public official at the Ministry of Education picked up the phone to ask for more information, and they have done nothing about it,” he said.

Lepofsky said students with disabilities risk not being fully supported during the pandemic and through their education. Even worse, he said, is the looming fear of being told they can not attend in-person learning come the fall school year.

Toronto District School Board spokesman Ryan Bird assured parents that when it comes to students with special needs, the board has a number of congregate sites available for them in the fall.

“These schools specialize in supporting these students and that will continue,” he said, noting the TDSB is trying to get as much information as possible to parents in the upcoming days and weeks.

“We get the frustration from parents, and we understand that there are important decisions to be made in sending your child back to school in September,” he said.

“We realize the time is ticking.”




© 2020 The Canadian Press





Source link

Students with disability face more obstacles amid coronavirus: advocates 


Advocacy groups in Ontario say students with disabilities will face additional obstacles returning to class following the pandemic, leaving parents unsure if their children will be fully and safely included in school reopening plans.

The Ontario Autism Coalition and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance held an online town hall meeting Friday to discuss what they say is the provincial government’s “failure” to put parents at ease with the school year looming.

READ MORE: Coronavirus highlights disparities among Canadians with disabilities

OAC president Laura Kirby-McIntosh said when it comes to welcoming children with disabilities back to school, the province is doing the bare minimum at best.

“The Ministry of Education’s guide to reopening Ontario schools is not really a plan,” she said in an interview. “What we get is some very nice words.”

Story continues below advertisement






Parents say Alberta students with disabilities being left out


Parents say Alberta students with disabilities being left out

Kirby-McIntosh said the province’s school system is designed primarily with non-disabled children in mind, and while children with disabilities are treated as an afterthought.

“One thing that COVID has done very effectively is it has exposed systemic issues across our society — of racism, medical infrastructure —  and now we are getting to school infrastructure.”

A spokeswoman for Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the government has allocated $10 million in additional funding specifically dedicated to supporting students with special education needs.

“We are spending more money than any other province on special education,” Caitlin Clark said.

However, Kirby-McIntosh said schools run on more than just money.

“They run on good planning,” she said. “Yes, they are spending more money on schools, but why wait until the third week of August to announce that? I don’t feel that we are ready, it is not good enough.”

Story continues below advertisement






Warning ignored from B.C. disability advocate about essential hospital visitors


Warning ignored from B.C. disability advocate about essential hospital visitors

AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky said both his group and the Autism Coalition have offered plenty of proposals and advice to the government, before and during the pandemic, in relation to students with special needs.

“Not one public official at the Ministry of Education picked up the phone to ask for more information, and they have done nothing about it,” he said.

Lepofsky said students with disabilities risk not being fully supported during the pandemic and through their education. Even worse, he said, is the looming fear of being told they can not attend in-person learning come the fall school year.

Toronto District School Board spokesman Ryan Bird assured parents that when it comes to students with special needs, the board has a number of congregate sites available for them in the fall.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Payments for Canadians with disabilities still in limbo amid coronavirus 

“These schools specialize in supporting these students and that will continue,” he said, noting the TDSB is trying to get as much information as possible to parents in the upcoming days and weeks.

“We get the frustration from parents, and we understand that there are important decisions to be made in sending your child back to school in September,” he said.

“We realize the time is ticking.”



© 2020 The Canadian Press





Source link