New Brunswick mom says son’s human rights have been violated, hires lawyer – New Brunswick


A New Brunswick mother whose son with disabilities went missing from his school says she is planning to file a formal complaint against the school and the district.

Jacqueline Petricca of Bouctouche, N.B. says she is still shaken up over what happened to her son at Blanche-Bourgeois School last month.

“It was the most terrifying almost two hours of my life,” Petricca said.

Petricca says that even though her 11-year-old son, Anthony — who has ADHD, Tourette syndrome and OCD and may be on the autism spectrum — is a known flight risk, he went missing from school on March 24.

Read more:
New Brunswick mother seeks answers, support after disabled son goes missing for hours from school

“I had no idea where he was. I did not know if he has gotten into a car with anybody or what had happened,” she said.

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Anthony was found safe at a nearby business almost two hours after going missing, she says.

Now, the mother has hired a lawyer and is planning to file a formal complaint against the school and the district for not providing proper full-time support for her son.

“If there was a true inclusion program, then my son would not be on a half-accommodated day, just two to three hours,” she said.

According to the mother, a psychologist has told her that since Anthony is not classified as a complex case, all of the supports that are recommended and required are not going to be paid for until he gets that classification. She says she has been waiting for a meeting with the district for months to have her son evaluated.

A representative from the Francophone Sud School District, Ghislaine Arsenault, would not comment on the incident, citing privacy reason, but said in a statement to Global News that “staff members work very hard to ensure student safety and to provide students with an environment that promotes their overall development and well being.”

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Petricca says her son’s full-time educational assistant (EA) support was taken away in February 2019, which she believes was for budgetary reasons.

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Fredericton lawyer and former education minister, Jody Carr, says the school “failed to protect” Anthony when he ran away from the school. He also alleges Anthony was denied his accommodations and failed to provide timely intervention for his disabilities, which Carr says is a violation of the student’s rights.

“Just based on disability, he is being denied a service and he is being denied an education and the human rights act says that no one can be denied an education based on their disability,” said Carr.

Anthony says he wants to return to school full-time.

“I would be willing to even without the EA,” he said.

But his mom says he needs appropriate supports in place before that can happen. Otherwise, she fears he may go missing again.

Since Global News reported their story, Petricca says the district reached out and she will be meeting with a clinical team to access Anthony’s needs on Friday. She says she will also be having a Zoom meeting with Education Minister Dominic Cardy on Thursday.

“The ultimate goal it is to have him in a program where he is safe all day and educated,” she said.


Click to play video: 'Program helping Moncton youth with disabilities find work'







Program helping Moncton youth with disabilities find work


Program helping Moncton youth with disabilities find work – Mar 18, 2021




© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.





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Western University Students Hopeful New Report Will Lead to Accessible Campus


The university is establishing a new student advisory committee to help direct staff on programming Sofia Rodriguez , CBC News
Posted: Mar 03, 2021

Ashton Forrest says her experience as someone with a disability at Western University has been frustrating.

The master’s student uses a mobility scooter and encounters numerous barriers a day on campus. They range from physical ones, like trying to fit her scooter in narrow spaces just to access food services, to experiences with others, such as students moving her scooter without asking because it’s, “in the way.”

While she recognizes the university is a long way from eliminating these barriers, she says it is moving in the right direction. The university is adopting a set of recommendations from a report commissioned by its Student Experience department that addresses issues in its academic support and engagement department, including accessibility on campus.

“The report was, for me, extremely validating,” Forrest said. “A lot of the recommendations in there are things that I and other students who have disabilities have said over and over again.”

The report contains 48 recommendations and calls for a more comprehensive approach in the way the university approaches accessibility.

“Accessibility is not defined by accommodations and access ramps,” said Jennie Massey Western University’s associate vice president of student experience. “An equitable, thriving campus really builds a culture where students with disabilities know that they matter, that they belong and that Western is a place that they can thrive.”

Massey said the university is taking immediate action with certain recommendations including, establishing a student advisory committee to help inform the implementation of the recommendations, recruiting someone to lead programming for students with disabilities and ensuring that students with disabilities are recognized as an equity-deserving group in the university’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) framework.

Forrest has been tasked with co-leading the student advisory committee. She believes having input from student with lived experiences will be paramount in making real change happen at Western.

“We have so many departments that deal with equity, diversity and inclusion, human rights and accessibility, yet they rarely reach out to students to hear what is going on, what we want, what we think our priorities are, what would help us be successful and thrive,” she said.

“Having this committee with students with a wide range of disabilities and experiences and backgrounds, we’re hoping, will help the Western community understand what our priorities are.”

The report also calls on the university to ensure its programming and services are implemented using an intersectional lens that takes into account each student’s particular experiences and factors such as race, ethnicity and sexual orientation, something students like Forrest and others have lauded.

“Here we have this report where the school is saying ‘We’re going to try and move forward and improve things on campus,’ which is really a rare undertaking,” said Lauren Sanders, a student outreach coordinator with University Student Council’s Accessibility Committee. “I think an important thing to focus on is how vital it is to have a report like this even created for this community … who is commonly underserviced and underrepresented.”

Sanders and Forrest said that while the report is still missing some specifics, it’s a good starting point to one day having a truly accessible campus.

“I think once we start thinking of people with disabilities as people who are deserving of human rights, who deserve to thrive and have equal access to all aspects of community life, … we can start moving in that direction of changing the culture,” said Forrest.

“There needs to be an understanding that accessibility is not a nice thing to have, it is a human right. It’s a need to have.”

Original at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/london/western-university-accessible-campus-report-1.5932251




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Nova Scotia first province to adopt Hansen Foundation curriculum in schools


HALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s Education Department is teaming up with the Rick Hansen Foundation to provide inclusion and accessibility teaching materials to the province’s schools.

The free online programs include access to foundation ambassadors and to a series of lesson plan ideas for primary and high schools. In a virtual news conference Tuesday, Hansen said the province is the first in the country to officially incorporate his foundation’s resources into its school curriculum.

“You are really taking an opportunity to educate the next generation of young difference makers who will normalize this issue,” Hansen said. “The reality is it is a multigenerational, ultra-marathon of social change.”

Hansen said the program contains information that should be available to “everyone, everywhere,” adding that it is now available in English and in French in every province and territory. His foundation’s resources, he said, have been used in 5,500 schools and by 12,000 teachers.

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“I want to encourage teachers to continue to explore the resources and utilize them and bring them to life in your classroom,” Hansen said. The curriculum program for each grade contains lessons about such things as empathy and it is designed to inspire students to actively promote social change.

Leah Fumerton, who teachers Grades 1 and 2 at Fairview Heights Elementary in Halifax, says she notices a genuine desire among her students to promote inclusion and accessibility. She says students want to better understand the experiences of those who don’t feel included.

“I see in them a want to question what is around us,” Fumerton said. “It’s critical for us to band together and make school inclusion possible.”

Education Minister Zach Churchill said the program is part of the province’s broader accessibility agenda and commitment to make Nova Scotia more inclusive.

“We’ve invested heavily into new, inclusive education supports, teachers and non-teaching support staff in our system,” he said. “I think how we approach teaching and learning around this subject can be equally impactful.”


Click to play video 'Marking 32 years since Rick Hansen’s “Man in Motion” World Tour'







Marking 32 years since Rick Hansen’s “Man in Motion” World Tour


Marking 32 years since Rick Hansen’s “Man in Motion” World Tour – May 22, 2019

Hansen rose to fame through his Man in Motion World Tour between 1985 and 1987, which saw the wheelchair athlete cover 40,000 kilometres through 34 countries to raise awareness about the potential of people with disabilities.

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More than 30 years later, he said many barriers to inclusivity remain in Canadian society. “To be able to formalize this (education) program and to embed it in core curriculum objectives is the ultimate … in helping to contribute to the Canada that we want,” Hansen said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2021.




© 2021 The Canadian Press





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For over 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities, Sunday January 31, 2021 Will Be The Ford Government’s Sad Two Year Anniversary of Inaction On Disability Accessibility


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/

For over 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities, Sunday January 31, 2021 Will Be The Ford Government’s Sad Two Year Anniversary of Inaction On Disability Accessibility

January 29, 2021

            SUMMARY

Ontario is on the verge of a deeply troubling anniversary of Ontario Government inaction. This Sunday, January 31, 2021 marks the two year anniversary since the Ford Government received the blistering  final report of the Independent Review of the Implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. This report was written by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley.

In the two years since it received this report, the Ford Government has announced no strong, comprehensive plan to implement its recommendations. Most of its recommendations have not been implemented at all. This is so even though Ontario’s Accessibility Minister, Raymond Cho said in the Legislature on April 10, 2019 that David Onley did a “marvelous job” and that Ontario is only 30 percent along the way towards the goal of becoming accessible to people with disabilities.

It is a wrenching irony that this anniversary of inaction comes right after we celebrated the 40th anniversary of Canada’s Parliament deciding to include equality for people with disabilities in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That momentous breakthrough took place on January 28, 1981, 40 years ago yesterday. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act was passed in no small part to implement that constitutional right to equality for people with disabilities.

Over the past two years, the AODA Alliance has spearheaded grassroots efforts to get the Ford Government to come forward with a strong and comprehensive plan to implement the Onley Report. We have offered many constructive recommendations. We have also offered the Government our help. On Twitter and in our AODA Alliance Updates, we have maintained an ongoing count of the number of days that had passed since the Government received the Onley Report, keeping the spotlight on this issue. As of today, it has been 729 days.

The Government has taken a few new actions on accessibility since it took office in June 2018, the most important of which are summarized below. But these have been slow, halting and inadequate.

            MORE DETAILS

 1. What the Onley Report Found About the Plight of Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities

In February 2018, the Ontario Government appointed David Onley to conduct a mandatory Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. He was mandated to recommend reforms needed to ensure that Ontario becomes accessible by 2025, the goal which the AODA requires. Based on public feedback he received, the Onley report found that the pace of change since 2005 for people with disabilities has been “glacial.” With under six years then left before 2025 (now less than four years), the Onley report found that “…the promised accessible Ontario is nowhere in sight.” Onley concluded that progress on accessibility for people with disabilities under this law has been “highly selective and barely detectable.”

David Onley also found “…this province is mostly inaccessible.” The Onley Report accurately concluded:

“For most disabled persons, Ontario is not a place of opportunity but one of countless, dispiriting, soul-crushing barriers.”

The Onley Report said damning things about years of the Ontario Government’s implementation and enforcement of the AODA. He in effect found that there has been a protracted, troubling lack of Government leadership on this issue, even though two prior Government-appointed AODA Independent Reviews called for renewed, strengthened leadership:

“The Premier of Ontario could establish accessibility as a government-wide priority with the stroke of a pen. Our previous two Premiers did not listen to repeated pleas to do this.”

The Onley Report made concrete, practical recommendations to substantially strengthen the Government’s weak, flagging AODA implementation and enforcement. Set out below is the Onley Report’s summary of its recommendations. Many if not most of them echo the findings and recommendations that the AODA Alliance submitted in its detailed January 15, 2019 brief to the Onley Review. Among other things, David Onley called for the Government to substantially strengthen AODA enforcement, create new accessibility standards including for barriers in the built environment, strengthen the existing AODA accessibility standards, and reform the Government’s use of public money to ensure it is never used to create disability barriers.

 2. What New Has the Ford Government Done on Accessibility Since the Onley Report?

It was good, but long overdue, that when releasing the Onley report back in March 2019, the Ford Government at last lifted its inexcusable 258 day-long freeze on the important work of three Government-appointed advisory committees. These committees were mandated under the AODA to recommend what regulations should be enacted to tear down disability barriers in Ontario’s education system impeding students with disabilities, and in Ontario’s health care system obstructing patients with disabilities. The AODA Alliance led the fight for the previous nine months to get the Ford Government to lift that freeze. Because of those delays, the Government delayed progress on accessibility for people with disabilities in health care and education. We are feeling the harmful effects of those delays during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ford Government’s main focus of its efforts on accessibility for people with disabilities has been on educating the public on the benefits of achieving accessibility for people with disabilities. That is work that the previous Government had been doing for over a decade. That alone will not bring about significant progress.

Since releasing the Onley Report, the Ford Government has held a couple of staged ministerial events, on January 28, 2019 and on October 29, 2019 (for which an inaccessible email invitation was sent), supposedly to announce a framework to implement the Onley Report. However they announced little, if anything, new. To the contrary, they focused on re-announcing things the Government had been doing for years, including at least one measure dating back to the Bob Rae NDP Government that was in power over a quarter century ago.

The Government has announced no plans to implement any of the recommendations for reform of accessibility standards from the Transportation Standards Development Committee (which submitted its final report to the Ontario Government in the spring of 2018, almost three years ago) or the final report of the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee (which submitted its final report some ten or eleven months ago).

The Government has had in hand for at least a month, if not more, the initial report of the Health Care Standards Development Committee. It must be posted for public comment. The Government has not posted it, or announced when it will do so. In the midst of this pandemic, swift action in the area of health care accessibility is desperately needed for people with disabilities and all Ontarians.

In the meantime, the one major new strategy on disability accessibility that the Ford Government has announced in its over two and a half years in office has been an action that David Onley never recommended and has, to our knowledge, never publicly endorsed. The Government diverted 1.3 million public dollars to the seriously problematic Rick Hansen Foundation’s private building accessibility “certification” program. We have made public serious concerns about that plan. The Government never acted on those concerns. Almost two years later, there is no proof that that misuse of public money led to the removal of any barriers in an Ontario building.

Despite announcing that the Government will take an “all of Government” approach to accessibility in response to the Onley Report, we have seen the opposite take place. TVO has not fixed the serious accessibility problems with its online learning resources, much needed during distance learning in this pandemic. The Government is building a new courthouse in downtown Toronto with serious accessibility problems about which disability advocates forewarned. During the pandemic, the Government has had circulated two successive critical care triage protocols which direct hospitals to use an approach to triage that would discriminate against some patients with disabilities and has refused to directly speak to us about these concerns. Over our objection, the Government has unleashed electric scooters on Ontarians, exposing people with disabilities to dangers to their safety and accessibility. This is all amply documented on the AODA Alliance’s website.

Over 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities deserve better.

 3. The Onley Report’s Summary of Its Recommendations

  1. Renew government leadership in implementing the AODA.

Take an all-of-government approach by making accessibility the responsibility of every ministry.

Ensure that public money is never used to create or maintain accessibility barriers.

Lead by example.

Coordinate Ontario’s accessibility efforts with those of the federal government and other provinces.

  1. Reduce the uncertainty surrounding basic concepts in the AODA.

Define “accessibility”.

Clarify the AODA’s relationship with the Human Rights Code.

Update the definition of “disability”.

  1. Foster cultural change to instill accessibility into the everyday thinking of Ontarians.

Conduct a sustained multi-faceted public education campaign on accessibility with a focus on its economic and social benefits in an aging society.

Build accessibility into the curriculum at every level of the educational system, from elementary school through college and university.

Include accessibility in professional training for architects and other design fields.

  1. Direct the standards development committees for K-12 and Post-Secondary Education and for Health Care to resume work as soon as possible.
  1. Revamp the Information and Communications standards to keep up with rapidly changing technology.
  1. Assess the need for further standards and review the general provisions of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation.
  1. Ensure that accessibility standards respond to the needs of people with environmental sensitivities.
  1. Develop new comprehensive Built Environment accessibility standards through a process to:

Review and revise the 2013 Building Code amendments for new construction and major renovations

Review and revise the Design of Public Spaces standards

Create new standards for retrofitting buildings.

  1. Provide tax incentives for accessibility retrofits to buildings.
  1. Introduce financial incentives to improve accessibility in residential housing.

Offer substantial grants for home renovations to improve accessibility and make similar funds available to improve rental units.

Offer tax breaks to boost accessibility in new residential housing.

  1. Reform the way public sector infrastructure projects are managed by Infrastructure Ontario to promote accessibility and prevent new barriers.
  1. Enforce the AODA.

Establish a complaint mechanism for reporting AODA violations.

Raise the profile of AODA enforcement.

  1. Deliver more responsive, authoritative and comprehensive support for AODA implementation.

Issue clear, in-depth guidelines interpreting accessibility standards.

Establish a provincewide centre or network of regional centres offering information, guidance, training and specialized advice on accessibility.

Create a comprehensive website that organizes and provides links to trusted resources on accessibility.

  1. Confirm that expanded employment opportunities for people with disabilities remains a top government priority and take action to support this goal.
  1. Fix a series of everyday problems that offend the dignity of people with disabilities or obstruct their participation in society.



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Share with Others the Youtube Link to Yesterday’s Important Panel on TV Ontario’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” Revealing the Hardships Facing Many Ontario Students with Disabilities During Distance Education and While Attending Re-Opened Schools


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/

Share with Others the Youtube Link to Yesterday’s Important Panel on TV Ontario’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” Revealing the Hardships Facing Many Ontario Students with Disabilities During Distance Education and While Attending Re-Opened Schools

December 9, 2020

Did you miss last night’s important panel on Ontario’s flagship public affairs program The Agenda with Steve Paikin on the barriers and hardships facing many Ontario students with disabilities during distance learning or while attending re-opened schools? You can now watch it online any time you want, on your computer, tablet, smart phone or smart TV! If you want to cut and paste the link, here it is!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AO0MDM54gnA&feature=youtu.be

In the past, TVO has upgraded the automated Youtube captioning for its postings from The Agenda with Steve Paikin and has posted a transcript of such panels within a period of days.

On this panel, Steve Paikin interviewed three guests:

  1. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, who is also a member of the Government-appointed K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, as well as a member and past chair of the Toronto District School Board’s Special Education Advisory Committee.
  2. Ontario Autism Coalition President Laura Kirby-McIntosh, who is also a teacher and mother of two children with autism.
  3. Grand Erie District School Board Special Education Advisory Committee member Paula Boutis, who is also the mother of a child with a disability and the President of Integration Action for Inclusion, a parent association of families with children with disabilities working to improve inclusion in education and community), and a past member of the TDSB Special Education Advisory Committee.

One of the many important points made during this interview is the pressing unmet need for the Ford Government to have developed and implemented a comprehensive province-wide plan on how school boards should meet the needs of a third of a million students with disabilities during distance learning and while attending re-opened schools. It is important to emphasize that the Government was handed just such a plan on a silver platter some five months ago – one it has not implemented. That plan was developed by a sub-committee of the Government-appointed K-12 Education Standards Development Committee and was delivered to the Government on July 24, 2020. That Committee has representation from the disability community and school boards. It sets out a strong consensus position.

At the end of the interview, David Lepofsky stated that Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce told the Ontario Legislature on July 8, 2020 that he speaks regularly with Lepofsky. You can read the official Ontario Hansard transcript of that statement! Minister Lecce has not spoken to AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky since he made that statement. You can also read the AODA Alliance’s September 23, 2020 letter to Education Minister Lecce, asking for a meeting.

Please encourage as many people as possible, including your member of the Legislature and your local school staff and school board officials to watch the December 8, 2020 panel on The Agenda with Steve Paikin. Forward this Update to them. Publicize it on social media.

We know that so many parents of students with disabilities are struggling more than ever to advocate to their school and school board to meet their children’s learning needs. That’s why we have made available a helpful video that offers parents of students with disabilities a series of very practical tips on how to advocate to school boards for their children. Please encourage parents, teachers, principals and others to watch that video too! Encourage principals to share that video with all the families attending their school.

We again want to acknowledge and thank Steve Paikin, and the staff of The Agenda with Steve Paikin, for shining a bright spotlight on this important disability issue. As AODA Alliance Chair David emphasized in another recent online lecture about advocating for the needs of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been inexplicably hard to get media attention on vital disability issues over the past nine months. We are struggling to understand why that is so. Bucking that trend, Mr. Paikin and The Agenda with Steve Paikin stand out as a true and commendable model of receptiveness to our issues and concerns. Steve Paikin noted at the start of this interview that it was an approach from the AODA Alliance that led his program to decide to include this panel, arising out of our concern that an earlier panel on The Agenda did not accurately describe the experience of many students with disabilities during distance education.

Despite the ordeal facing so many Ontarians, including the plight of so many students with disabilities and their families, yesterday, the Ford Government decided yesterday to cancel the rest of the sittings of the Legislature this week. It will not sit again until mid-February of next year.

It is in that context that we remind one and all that there have now been 678 days, over 22 months, since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. In all this time, the Government has announced no comprehensive plan of new action to implement that ground-breaking report. That makes even worse the serious problems facing students with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, addressed in this new episode of The Agenda with Steve Paikin.

Send us your feedback on this interview on The Agenda with Steve Paikin or on any other accessibility topic. Write us at [email protected]



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Watch TVO’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” Tonight at 8 or 11 PM for an Interview on Whether Distance Education and Re-Opened Schools are Meeting the Learning Needs of Students with Disabilities


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 TVO’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” Tonight at 8 or 11 PM for an Interview on Whether Distance Education and Re-Opened Schools are Meeting the Learning Needs of Students with Disabilities

We encourage you to watch TVO’s flagship current affairs program “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” tonight at 8 or 11 pm eastern time for an extensive interview on whether the learning needs of students with disabilities are being met this fall, both those doing distance education and those attending re-opened schools. The guests are AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, Ontario Autism Coalition President Laura Kirby-McIntosh and Grand Erie District School Board Special Education Advisory Committee member Paula Boutis (who is also President of Integration Action for Inclusion, a parent association of families with children with disabilities working to improve inclusion in education and community).

This program will appear on TV (for those who still use it). It will also stream tonight at 8 pm on the Twitter feed and Facebook page of The Agenda with Steve Paikin. It will be permanently available on YouTube. In a future AODA Alliance Update, we will provide the YouTube link.

On November 13, 2020, the Agenda included a panel that explored how effectively distance education is working during COVID-19. Those earlier panelists gave distance education very positive grades, but did not give sufficient consideration to its impact on students with disabilities. Today’s broadcast gives viewers a chance to learn about that important issue with this new panel.

We applaud The Agenda with Steve Paikin for addressing this disability issue on tonight’s broadcast, which is important for a third of a million Ontario students with disabilities in publicly-funded Ontario schools. Back on May 8, 2020, The Agenda included an interview about our campaign to get the Ontario Government to address the barriers that people with disabilities are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s new interview provided a good opportunity to bring viewers up to date, with a specific focus on the hardships facing school-age students with disabilities.

Help us use this broadcast to promote real change. Please

* Encourage your friends and family to watch this interview.

* Promote this interview on social media like Twitter and Facebook.

* Press members of the Ontario Legislature to watch this interview.

* Urge your local media to cover this issue too. Bring them stories about barriers facing students with disabilities in Ontario’s schools.

* Follow us on Twitter: @aodaalliance. On Facebook: www.facebook.com/AODAAlliance/

 

* While you’re at it, please encourage parents and guardians of students with disabilities to watch the captioned online video by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky where practical tips are given on how to effectively advocate for the needs of students with disabilities in the school system. We’ve already received very encouraging feedback on that video. Tell your school board to publicize it to all parents.

There have now been 677 days, over 22 months, since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government has still announced no comprehensive plan of new action to implement that ground-breaking report. That makes even worse the serious problems facing students with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, addressed in this new episode of The Agenda with Steve Paikin.





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Tell Us What Successes or Barriers Students with Disabilities Are Experiencing This Fall at School or During Distance Education – 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/

Tell Us What Successes or Barriers Students with Disabilities Are Experiencing This Fall at School or During Distance Education

December 1, 2020

Please take a minute to send us your feedback! We want to hear from parents and guardians of students with disabilities in Ontario Schools, from students with disabilities themselves, and from anyone working or volunteering in our schools. How has it been going for students with disabilities this fall, either during distance learning or when attending at school? Please email us your answers, even if you only have a minute or two. Write us at [email protected]

Here are the questions that are especially important. Feel free to answer all or just some of them:

  1. Is your child attending school in person or taking part in distance learning? Why did you choose one over the other?
  1. If your child is taking part in distance learning, how is it going? Are they learning as much as when they are at school?
  1. If your child is taking part in distance education, are they encountering any disability barriers or disability-related problems? If so, how effective has the school board been at overcoming those barriers or problems?
  1. If your child is attending school in person, have they encountered any additional disability barriers or problems due to the COVID-19 pandemic and measures taken to address it? If so, how effective has the school board been at removing or fixing those barriers or problems?

We appreciate any time you can take to send us your feedback. Please respond, if at all possible, by the end of Monday, December 7, 2020.

We will read every response we get. It will help us formulate our ongoing advocacy efforts. We will not reveal any names or specific identifying information you share with us.

As a volunteer coalition, we won’t be able to give advice on specific cases. However, if you want some practical tips on how to advocate for a child with disabilities in the school system, check out the AODA Alliance’s new online video on this topic.

For more background on these issues, visit

  1. The AODA Alliance’s COVID-19 web page and our education accessibility web page.
  1. The July 24, 2020 report on meeting the needs of students with disabilities during school re-opening by the COVID-19 subcommittee of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee.
  1. The AODA Alliance‘s July 23, 2020 report on the need to rein in the power of school principals to refuse to admit a student to school.
  1. The AODA Alliance’s June 18, 2020 brief to the Ford Government on how to meet the needs of students with disabilities during school re-opening.
  1. The widely viewed online video of the May 4, 2020 virtual Town Hall on meeting the needs of students with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis, co-organized by the Ontario Autism Coalition and the AODA Alliance.



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New captioned Video is Unveiled Today on Hardships People with Disabilities Face During the COVID-19 Pandemic, To Mark This Sunday, the 26th Anniversary of the Birth of Ontario’s Grassroots Movement for Disability Accessibility


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/

New captioned Video is Unveiled Today on Hardships People with Disabilities Face During the COVID-19 Pandemic, To Mark This Sunday, the 26th Anniversary of the Birth of Ontario’s Grassroots Movement for Disability Accessibility

November 27, 2020

            SUMMARY

Happy birthday to us! This Sunday, November 29, 2020, is the 26th anniversary of the birth of Ontario’s unstoppable grassroots non-partisan movement that successfully campaigned for a decade from 1994 to 2005 to get the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act passed, and that has tenaciously campaigned since then to get the AODA effectively implemented. To mark this anniversary, we today unveil another captioned video. It is the newest addition to our large and growing collection of captioned online videos on the important subject of accessibility for people with disabilities.

This newest captioned video is entitled: “Advocating to Address the Added Hardships that COVID-19 Imposes on People with Disabilities.” For the past 8 months, the AODA Alliance has focused our advocacy efforts on the many barriers that people with disabilities are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in the areas of education for students with disabilities and health care for patients with disabilities. In this one-hour talk by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, you can learn all about the barriers we’ve faced, the corrective actions we’ve sought, the results we’ve achieved, and the lessons to be learned from the experience of people with disabilities during this pandemic.

This new video is available online at: https://youtu.be/yB5i7cCiw68

You can read all about the issues addressed in this newest video by visiting the AODA Alliance website’s COVID-19 page.

While we’re at it, why don’t we also remind you of the three other important new captioned videos that the AODA Alliance made public over the past few weeks:

  1. Tips for Parents of Students with Disabilities on How to Advocate for Your Child’s Needs in the School system, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtadvCvcGC0
  1. The Threat to Disability Rights If Critical Medical Care Must Be Rationed or Triaged During the COVID-19 Pandemic, available at https://youtu.be/MxpHXUYNP4A
  1. The AODA Alliance’s August 31, 2020 Presentation to the Ford Government’s “Bioethics Table” on the Need to Protect Disability Rights If Critical Medical Care Must be Triaged or Rationed, available at https://youtu.be/MAigGhN5zB4
  1. AODA 101 – An Introduction to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, available at https://youtu.be/zrPLb3N1DBQ

We have already gotten great feedback on these videos so far. We’d welcome your feedback too! Write us at [email protected]

Please share these videos with others and encourage them to watch them. Please post links to our videos on your social media.

If you are a school teacher or a professor in a college or university, please feel free to use all or part of any of our videos in your courses. They can be helpful in courses or programs on a diverse spectrum of topics, such as law, education, health, medicine, public policy, political science, human rights, disability studies, civics, bioethics, and history.

We also invite you to learn more about the historic events of November 29, 1994 that led to the birth of the grassroots AODA movement that is as tenacious and relentless as ever 26 years later. Read a description of those historic events, set out below.!

We still have so much more to do! There have now been 666 days, or almost 22 months, since the Ford Government received the ground-breaking final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government has announced no comprehensive plan of new action to implement that report. That makes even worse the serious problems facing Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis, addressed in the new video we unveil today.

            MORE DETAILS

EXCERPT FROM “THE LONG ARDUOUS ROAD TO A BARRIER-FREE ONTARIO FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: THE HISTORY OF THE ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT – THE FIRST CHAPTER” BY DAVID LEPOFSKY, PUBLISHED IN THE NATIONAL JOURNAL OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, VOLUME 15.

  1. a) The Birth of the Organized ODA Movement

The realization within Ontario’s disability community that a new law was needed to tear down the barriers facing persons with disabilities did not take place all at once as the result of a single catastrophic event. Rather, it resulted slowly from a simmering, gradual process. That process led to the birth of Ontario’s organized ODA movement.

How then did the organized ODA movement get started? Most would naturally think that it is the birth of a civil rights movement that later spawns the introduction into a legislature of a new piece of civil rights legislation. Ironically in the case of the organized ODA movement, the opposite was the case. The same ironic twist had occurred 15 years before when the Ontario Coalition for Human Rights for the Handicapped formed in reaction to the Government’s introduction of a stand-alone piece of disability rights legislation.

In the early 1990s, after the enactment in the U.S. of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, sporadic voices in Ontario began discussing the idea of seeking the enactment of something called an “Ontarians with Disabilities Act.” There was little if any focused attention on what this new law would contain. It was understood from the outset that an ODA would not be a carbon copy of the ADA. For example, some parts of the ADA were already incorporated in the Ontario Human Rights Code. There was no need to replicate them again.

In the 1990 Ontario provincial election campaign (which happened to take place just days after the U.S. had enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act) NDP leader Bob Rae responded to a disability rights legal clinic’s all-party election platform questionnaire in August 1990 with a letter which, among other things, supported appropriate legislation along the lines of an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Rae’s letter didn’t spell out what this law would include. This letter did not get serious airplay in that election campaign. It was not well-known when the NDP came from behind in the polls to win that provincial election. Because the NDP had not been expected to win, it was widely seen as campaigning on a range of election commitments that it never anticipated having the opportunity to implement.

Despite sporadic discussions among some in the early 1990s, there was no grassroots groundswell in Ontario supporting an ODA. There was also no major grassroots political force building to push for one. This was quite similar to the fact that there was no organized grassroots disability rights movement pushing for the inclusion of disability equality in the Ontario Human Rights Code in 1979, before the Ontario Government proposed its new disability discrimination legislation in that year. In the early 1990s, Ontario disability organizations involved in disability advocacy were primarily focused on other things, such as the NDP Ontario Government’s proposed Employment Equity Act, expected to be the first provincial legislation of its kind in Canada. That legislation, aimed at increasing the employment of persons with disabilities as well as women, racial minorities and Aboriginal persons, was on the agenda of the provincial New Democratic Party that was then in power in Ontario.

What ultimately led to the birth of a province-wide, organized grassroots ODA movement in Ontario was the decision of an NDP back-bench member of the Ontario Legislature, Gary Malkowski, to introduce into the Legislature a private member’s ODA bill in the Spring of 1994, over three years into the NDP Government’s term in office. By that time, the NDP Government had not brought forward a Government ODA bill. Malkowski decided to bring forward Bill 168, the first proposed Ontarians with Disabilities Act, to focus public and political interest in this new issue. Malkowski was well-known as Ontario’s, and indeed North America’s, first elected parliamentarian who was deaf. Ontario’s New Democratic Party Government, then entering the final year of its term in office, allowed Malkowski’s bill to proceed to a Second Reading vote in the Ontario Legislature in June, 1994, and then to public hearings before a committee of the Ontario Legislature in November and December 1994.

In 1994, word got around various quarters in Ontario’s disability community that Malkowski had introduced this bill. Interest in it started to percolate. Malkowski met with groups in the disability community, urging them to come together to support his bill. He called for the disability community to unite in a new coalition to support an Ontarians with Disabilities Act. A significant number of persons with disabilities turned up at the Ontario Legislature when this bill came forward for Second Reading debate in the Spring of 1994.

Over the spring, summer and fall months of 1994, around the same time as Malkowski was coming forward with his ODA bill, some of the beginnings of the organized ODA movement were also simmering within an organization of Ontario Government employees with disabilities. Under the governing NDP, the Ontario Government had set up an “Advisory Group” of provincial public servants with disabilities to advise it on measures to achieve equality for persons with disabilities in the Ontario Public Service. In the Spring of 1994, this Advisory Group set as one of its priorities working within the machinery of the Ontario Government to promote the idea of an ODA.

This public service Advisory Group met with several provincial Cabinet Ministers and later with Ontario’s Premier, Bob Rae, to discuss the idea of an ODA. It successfully pressed the Government to hold public hearings on Malkowski’s ODA bill.

As 1994 progressed, Malkowski’s bill served its important purpose. It sparked the attention and interest of several players in Ontario’s disability community in the idea of an ODA. No one was then too preoccupied with the details of the contents of Malkowski’s ODA bill.

Malkowski’s bill had an even more decisive effect on November 29, 1994, when it first came before the Legislature’s Standing Committee for debate and public hearings. On that date, NDP Citizenship Minister Elaine Ziemba was asked to make a presentation to the Committee on the Government’s views on Malkowski’s bill. She was called upon to do this before community groups would be called on to start making presentations to the legislative committee. The hearing room was packed with persons with disabilities, eager to hear what the Minister would have to say.

Much to the audience’s dismay, the Minister’s lengthy speech said little if anything about the bill. She focused instead on the Government’s record on other disability issues. The temperature in the room elevated as the audience’s frustration mounted.

When the committee session ended for the day, word quickly spread among the audience that all were invited to go to another room in Ontario’s legislative building. An informal, impromptu gathering came together to talk about taking action in support of Malkowski’s bill. Malkowski passionately urged those present to come together and to get active on this cause.

I was one of the 20 or so people who made their way into that room. In an informal meeting that lasted about an hour, it was unanimously decided to form a new coalition to fight for a strong and effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act. There was no debate over the content of such legislation at that meeting. However, there was a strong and united realization that new legislation was desperately needed, and that a new coalition needed to be formed to fight for it. This coalition did not spawn the first ODA bill. Rather, the first ODA bill had spawned this coalition.

Days later, in December 1994, the Legislature’s Standing Committee held two full days of hearings into Malkowski’s bill. A significant number of organizations, including disability community organizations, appeared before the Legislature’s Standing Committee to submit briefs and make presentations on the need for new legislation in this area. Among the groups that made presentations was the Ontario Public Service Disability Advisory Group which had pressed for these hearings to be held. Its brief later served as a core basis for briefs and positions that would be presented by the brand-new Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee.



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