The AODA does not yet have an education standard. Two committees are making recommendations about what an education standard should include. One issue that an education standard should address is access to information. Educational institutions should be required to make all information available to all students, parents, teachers, and other workers in schools. For instance, schools and school boards could post information on accessible websites. Students, parents, teachers, or visitors with disabilities can read online school information on accessible computers or phones.
Online School Information: What Information Should be Accessible Online?
Different schools or school boards could post different kinds of information. For example, schools could make copies of print forms available online for parents. Instead of handing every student a print form to take home, schools could give parents the option of receiving online forms. Many parents might prefer this option because it would be environmentally friendly. In addition, parents with print disabilities could have the same access to forms as their sighted peers.
Moreover, there could be an online database where academic publishers upload accessible-format Ebook versions of all the books they publish. Currently, many publishers have Ebook options available, but the Ebooks are not always accessible. As a result, publishers must convert an Ebook into an accessible format after a student has bought it. Similarly, publishers only start converting a print book into an accessible format after a student needing one has bought a print copy. However, if all Ebooks were accessible from the start, publishers would not need to convert them later. Likewise, students would not fall behind in their course work while waiting for books they can read.
Course outlines and school policies
Similarly, when university staff upload documents, such as course outlines or school policies, they often post in portable document format (PDF). However, only some PDF files are accessible. School staff should know how to test the accessibility of any PDF files they want to post. If the PDFs they have made are not accessible, staff should post copies of the documents in accessible formats like Word or HTML.
Likewise, when schools post videos or maps for orientation, they should ensure that students of all abilities can use them. For example, they should make sure videos are captioned and provide detailed descriptions of their maps.
Finally, all schools and school boards should make any online courses they offer accessible. Our next article will explore how educational institutions can offer accessible online learning.