Sarnia’s Accessible Kayak and Canoe Launch Makes a Splash


Terry Bridge
Published on: August 6, 2020

Sarnias new accessible kayak and canoe launch made a splash with its first user.

Pete Williams boarded the facility in a yellow kayak mere minutes after city officials cut a ribbon Thursday morning signifying the $75,000 projects completion.

Its really, really good, said Williams, who lives within walking distance of the new Centennial Park watercraft launch. Ive been waiting for this to happen for a long time.

Dale Mosley, the citys accessibility co-ordinator, said they expect it to be really popular based on initial feedback.

Were hoping that a lot of people are going to be using it, he said.

The launch will be open seven days a week from dawn until dusk the gate wont be locked after hours but there will be signage from about April until October, Mosley said. It will be moved to another location in the bay during the winter months.

A ramp leads from the shore for users in wheelchairs and a bench allows people to transfer into a canoe or kayak. Handrails can be used to propel boats forward.

Mosley said a member of the citys accessibility advisory committee learned last year a person was crossing the U.S. border to use a similar launch there since there wasnt one in Sarnia.

The committee decided to make this launch a priority to assist all people, no matter their age or ability, wanting to canoe and kayak in our beautiful waterfront, he said.

Coun. Brian White credited the committee for going above and beyond accessibility laws and legislation by looking for new ideas.

Thats exactly what we have here today, he said.

Construction only finished Wednesday.

It was a tight timeline but (owner) Joel (Speake) from JS Marine was a huge help, Mosley said.

The Southwestern Ontario company was contracted to build and install the launch in the park, nearly in line with Maxwell Street and south of the Suncor Agora. The location is popular locally and was recommended by the contractor to avoid boat traffic, waves and current, a report from city staff said.

No fishing will be permitted there, but swimming will be allowed, Mosley said.

As long as theyre safe, he said.

The investment is part of the citys accessibility plan.

@ObserverTerry

[email protected]

Original at https://www.theobserver.ca/news/local-news/sarnias-accessible-kayak-and-canoe-launch-makes-a-splash




Source link

Ford Government to Spend Over a Half Billion Dollars on New Schools and Major School Additions, Without Announcing Effective Measures to Ensure that These Schools Will be Fully Accessible to Students, Parents and School Staff 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/

Ford Government to Spend Over a Half Billion Dollars on New Schools and Major School Additions, Without Announcing Effective Measures to Ensure that These Schools Will be Fully Accessible to Students, Parents and School Staff with Disabilities

July 30, 2020

          SUMMARY

Last week, the Ford Government announced that it is investing over half a billion dollars into building new schools and expanding existing ones, without announcing any effective measures to ensure that those schools will be designed to be accessible to students, parents, teachers, or other school staff with disabilities. Public money should never be used to create new barriers against people with disabilities. If new barriers are created, it costs much more to later renovate to remove them.

For years, Ontario’s Ministry of Education has largely left it to each school board to decide what, if anything, to include in the design of a new school building to ensure it is disability-accessible. Each school board is left to decide on its own whether it will include anything in the building’s design for accessibility, beyond the inadequate accessibility requirements in the Ontario Building Code, in standards enacted under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and under a patchwork of local municipal bylaws. The Ontario Government does not have a standard or model design for a new school or for an addition to a school, to ensure its accessibility to students, parents and school staff with disabilities.

On July 23, 2020, the Ford Government announced a major plan to build 30 new schools and to construct additions to another 15 schools, to provide both learning venues and more day care locations for students across Ontario (announcement set out below). The Ford Government has not announced any requirement that this new construction must be disability-accessible. It is wasteful, duplicative and counter-productive for the Ontario Government to leave it to 72 school boards to each re-invent the wheel when it comes to the design of a school building to ensure that it is accessible. Moreover, school boards are not assured to have the requisite expertise in accessible building design. Making this worse, too often architects are not properly trained in accessible design.

This is not a situation where each school board is best situated to assess the unique local needs of its community. A student, parent or school staff member with a disability has the very same accessibility needs, when it comes to getting into and around a school building, whether that school is in Kenora or Cornwall.

It has been well established for years that compliance with the insufficient accessibility requirements in the Ontario Building Code, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act accessibility standards and local municipal bylaws do not ensure that a new building is in fact accessible and barrier-free for people with disabilities. To the contrary, the AODA Alliance has shown how new buildings and major renovations in major public projects can end up having serious accessibility problems. This is illustrated in three online videos, produced by the AODA Alliance, that have gotten thousands of views and extensive media coverage. Those videos focus on:

* the new Ryerson University Student Learning Centre;

* the new Centennial College Culinary Arts Centre and

* several new and recently renovated Toronto area public transit stations.

Over a year and a half ago, the third Government-appointed Independent Review of the implementation of the AODA, conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley, found that progress in Ontario on accessibility has proceeded at a “glacial” pace. Among other things, it recommended that the Ontario Government should treat as a major priority the recurring barriers facing people with disabilities in the built environment. The Onley Report emphasized as an illustration the AODA Alliance’s video depicting serious accessibility problems at Ryerson’s new Student Learning Centre.

Strong, effective and enforceable provincial accessibility standards for the built environment are long overdue. Yet the Government has announced no plans to develop and enact a Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA. Beyond this, for over two and a half years, the Ontario Government has been in direct violation of the AODA. This is because the Government has still not appointed a mandatory Standards Development Committee to review the palpably inadequate “Design of Public Spaces” Accessibility Standard, enacted under the AODA in December 2012. Under section 9(9) of the AODA, the Ontario Government was required to appoint a mandatory Standards Development Committee to review that accessibility standard by December 2017. The former Kathleen Wynne Government is on the hook for failing to appoint that Standards Development Committee for the seven months from December 2017 up to the Wynne Government being defeated in the June 2018 provincial election. The Ford Government is on the hook for violating the AODA for the subsequent two years, from the time it took office up to today.

The Ford Government should now direct all school boards receiving any of the public money that the Government announced on July 23, 2020 that all those new projects must be fully accessible. This must go further than simply meeting the inadequate accessibility requirements in the Ontario Building Code, in AODA accessibility standards enacted to date, and in local bylaws. The Ford Government should set specific accessibility requirements that must be met. A good template for this is set out in the AODA Alliance’s draft Framework for the Post-Secondary Education Accessibility Standard.

There have now been 546 days, or over a full year and a half, 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 not announced any 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.

For more background, check out:

* The AODA Alliance website’s Built Environment page, that documents our efforts to get the Ontario Government to enact strong accessibility standards for the built environment.

* The AODA Alliance website’s Education page, documenting the AODA Alliance’s efforts to tear down the many barriers in Ontario’s education system facing students with disabilities.

          MORE DETAILS

 July 23, 2020 Ontario Government News Release

Originally posted at https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/07/ontario-building-and-expanding-schools-across-the-province-1.html

Ontario Newsroom

News Release

Ontario Building and Expanding Schools across the Province

July 23, 2020

Modern Facilities Will Strengthen Student Learning and Increase Access to Child Care

BRAMPTON — The Ontario government is investing over $500 million to build 30 new schools and make permanent additions to 15 existing facilities, supporting over 25,000 student spaces across the province. These new, modern schools will create the foundation for a 21st century learning environment for thousands of students across the province. This investment will also generate nearly 900 new licensed child care spaces to ensure families across the province are able to access child care in their communities.

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford and Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education.

“Our government is making a significant capital investment in our school system,” said Premier Ford. “By making these smart investments today, we will ensure our students and teachers have access to modern facilities to learn with features like high-speed Internet, accessible ramps and elevators, and air conditioning, while providing parents with access to more licensed child care spaces.”

The government is investing over $12 billion in capital grants over 10 years, including over $500 million invested in this year alone to build critical new school capital projects and permanent additions. Today’s announcement continues to build upon the government’s commitment to invest up to $1 billion over five years to create up to 30,000 licensed child care spaces in schools, including 10,000 spaces in new schools. These new projects will also result in the creation of new jobs in the skilled trades as over $500 million of major infrastructure projects break ground in short order.

“It is unacceptable that too many schools in our province continue to lack the investment that our students deserve,” said Minister Lecce. “That is why this government is making a significant investment to build new schools, to extensively renovate existing schools, and expand access to licensed child care spaces in our province. Our government is modernizing our schools, our curriculum, and the delivery of learning, to ensure students are set up to succeed in an increasingly changing world.”

QUICK FACTS

list of 4 items

  • The Ministry of Education reviews all Capital Priorities submissions for eligibility and merit prior to announcing successful projects.
  • The Ministry is working in partnership with school boards to deliver high-speed Internet to all schools in Ontario, with all high schools having access to broadband by September 2020, and all elementary schools having access by September 2021. As of March 31, 2020, broadband modernization has been completed at 1,983 schools, including 403 Northern schools. Installation is currently in progress at 2,954 schools, including 99 northern schools.
  • The Ministry is investing $1.4 billion in renewal funding, which continues to meet the recommended funding level by the Auditor General of Ontario to preserve the condition of Ontario’s school facilities.
  • To find out more about projects in your community, visit the Ontario Builds map.

list end

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

list of 1 items

  • Learn more about Ontario’s commitment to modernizing schools and child care spaces.

list end

CONTACTS

Ivana Yelich

Premier’s Office

[email protected]

Alexandra Adamo

Minister Lecce’s Office

[email protected]

Ingrid Anderson

Communications Branch

437 225-0321

[email protected]

Office of the Premier

http://www.ontario.ca/premier



Source link

Ford Government to Spend Over a Half Billion Dollars on New Schools and Major School Additions, Without Announcing Effective Measures to Ensure that These Schools Will be Fully Accessible to Students, Parents and School Staff 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/

July 30, 2020

SUMMARY

Last week, the Ford Government announced that it is investing over half a billion dollars into building new schools and expanding existing ones, without announcing any effective measures to ensure that those schools will be designed to be accessible to students, parents, teachers, or other school staff with disabilities. Public money should never be used to create new barriers against people with disabilities. If new barriers are created, it costs much more to later renovate to remove them.

For years, Ontarios Ministry of Education has largely left it to each school board to decide what, if anything, to include in the design of a new school building to ensure it is disability-accessible. Each school board is left to decide on its own whether it will include anything in the buildings design for accessibility, beyond the inadequate accessibility requirements in the Ontario Building Code, in standards enacted under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and under a patchwork of local municipal bylaws. The Ontario Government does not have a standard or model design for a new school or for an addition to a school, to ensure its accessibility to students, parents and school staff with disabilities.

On July 23, 2020, the Ford Government announced a major plan to build 30 new schools and to construct additions to another 15 schools, to provide both learning venues and more day care locations for students across Ontario (announcement set out below). The Ford Government has not announced any requirement that this new construction must be disability-accessible. It is wasteful, duplicative and counter-productive for the Ontario Government to leave it to 72 school boards to each re-invent the wheel when it comes to the design of a school building to ensure that it is accessible. Moreover, school boards are not assured to have the requisite expertise in accessible building design. Making this worse, too often architects are not properly trained in accessible design.

This is not a situation where each school board is best situated to assess the unique local needs of its community. A student, parent or school staff member with a disability has the very same accessibility needs, when it comes to getting into and around a school building, whether that school is in Kenora or Cornwall.

It has been well established for years that compliance with the insufficient accessibility requirements in the Ontario Building Code, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act accessibility standards and local municipal bylaws do not ensure that a new building is in fact accessible and barrier-free for people with disabilities. To the contrary, the AODA Alliance has shown how new buildings and major renovations in major public projects can end up having serious accessibility problems. This is illustrated in three online videos, produced by the AODA Alliance, that have gotten thousands of views and extensive media coverage. Those videos focus on:

* the new Ryerson University Student Learning Centre;

* the new Centennial College Culinary Arts Centre and

* several new and recently renovated Toronto area public transit stations.

Over a year and a half ago, the third Government-appointed Independent Review of the implementation of the AODA, conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley, found that progress in Ontario on accessibility has proceeded at a glacial pace. Among other things, it recommended that the Ontario Government should treat as a major priority the recurring barriers facing people with disabilities in the built environment. The Onley Report emphasized as an illustration the AODA Alliances video depicting serious accessibility problems at Ryersons new Student Learning Centre.

Strong, effective and enforceable provincial accessibility standards for the built environment are long overdue. Yet the Government has announced no plans to develop and enact a Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA. Beyond this, for over two and a half years, the Ontario Government has been in direct violation of the AODA. This is because the Government has still not appointed a mandatory Standards Development Committee to review the palpably inadequate Design of Public Spaces Accessibility Standard, enacted under the AODA in December 2012. Under section 9(9) of the AODA, the Ontario Government was required to appoint a mandatory Standards Development Committee to review that accessibility standard by December 2017. The former Kathleen Wynne Government is on the hook for failing to appoint that Standards Development Committee for the seven months from December 2017 up to the Wynne Government being defeated in the June 2018 provincial election. The Ford Government is on the hook for violating the AODA for the subsequent two years, from the time it took office up to today.

The Ford Government should now direct all school boards receiving any of the public money that the Government announced on July 23, 2020 that all those new projects must be fully accessible. This must go further than simply meeting the inadequate accessibility requirements in the Ontario Building Code, in AODA accessibility standards enacted to date, and in local bylaws. The Ford Government should set specific accessibility requirements that must be met. A good template for this is set out in the AODA Alliances draft Framework for the Post-Secondary Education Accessibility Standard.

There have now been 546 days, or over a full year and a half, 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 not announced any 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.

For more background, check out:

* The AODA Alliance websites Built Environment page, that documents our efforts to get the Ontario Government to enact strong accessibility standards for the built environment.

* The AODA Alliance websites Education page, documenting the AODA Alliances efforts to tear down the many barriers in Ontario’s education system facing students with disabilities.

MORE DETAILS

July 23, 2020 Ontario Government News Release

Originally posted at https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/07/ontario-building-and-expanding-schools-across-the-province-1.html

Ontario Newsroom

News Release

Ontario Building and Expanding Schools across the Province
July 23, 2020

Modern Facilities Will Strengthen Student Learning and Increase Access to Child Care
BRAMPTON The Ontario government is investing over $500 million to build 30 new schools and make permanent additions to 15 existing facilities, supporting over 25,000 student spaces across the province. These new, modern schools will create the foundation for a 21st century learning environment for thousands of students across the province. This investment will also generate nearly 900 new licensed child care spaces to ensure families across the province are able to access child care in their communities.
Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford and Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education.
“Our government is making a significant capital investment in our school system,” said Premier Ford. “By making these smart investments today, we will ensure our students and teachers have access to modern facilities to learn with features like high-speed Internet, accessible ramps and elevators, and air conditioning, while providing parents with access to more licensed child care spaces.”
The government is investing over $12 billion in capital grants over 10 years, including over $500million invested in this year alone to build critical new school capital projects and permanent additions. Today’s announcement continues to build upon the government’s commitment to invest up to $1 billion over five years to create up to 30,000 licensed child care spaces in schools, including 10,000 spaces in new schools. These new projects will also result in the creation of new jobs in the skilled trades as over $500 million of major infrastructure projects break ground in short order.
“It is unacceptable that too many schools in our province continue to lack the investment that our students deserve,” said Minister Lecce. “That is why this government is making a significant investment to build new schools, to extensively renovate existing schools, and expand access to licensed child care spaces in our province. Our government is modernizing our schools, our curriculum, and the delivery of learning, to ensure students are set up to succeed in an increasingly changing world.”

QUICK FACTS
list of 4 items
The Ministry of Education reviews all Capital Priorities submissions for eligibility and merit prior to announcing successful projects.
The Ministry is working in partnership with school boards to deliver high-speed Internet to all schools in Ontario, with all high schools having access to broadband by September 2020, and all elementary schools having access by September 2021. As of March 31, 2020, broadband modernization has been completed at 1,983 schools, including 403 Northern schools. Installation is currently in progress at 2,954 schools, including 99 northern schools.
The Ministry is investing $1.4 billion in renewal funding, which continues to meet the recommended funding level by the Auditor General of Ontario to preserve the condition of Ontarios school facilities.
To find out more about projects in your community, visit the Ontario Builds map. list end

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
list of 1 items
Learn more about Ontarios commitment to modernizing schools and child care spaces. list end

CONTACTS
Ivana Yelich
Premiers Office
[email protected]
Alexandra Adamo
Minister Lecces Office
[email protected]
Ingrid Anderson
Communications Branch
437 225-0321
[email protected]
Office of the Premier
http://www.ontario.ca/premier




Source link

Three Recommendations for Accessible Remote Learning


Posted: July 17, 2020
by Jackie Pichette and Jessica Rizk

Adapting to the realities of remote schooling has been challenging. Since the COVID-19 pandemic sent our province into a state of emergency, many students have had to turn bedrooms into offices, kitchen tables into classrooms and parking lots into hotspots. While all Ontario learners have had to adapt to overcome barriers, those barriers have been amplified for many students with disabilities.

Imagine for a minute that you have low vision and require a screen reader to navigate online platforms like Zoom. Imagine you’re logging in for your first remote lecture of the semester, excited to be back in the (virtual) classroom. To encourage participation, your instructor begins by inviting students to pose questions using the chat feature. As your instructor dives into their thought-provoking lecture, your screen reader starts reciting aloud questions and comments posed by your peers, drowning out the instructor’s voice.

A student recently described a similar scenario to us. “I ended up getting two things coming at me at once, which was distracting and very hard to follow,” they shared. Being new to Zoom, this student wasn’t sure how to disable the chat or pose a question or comment themselves.

It’s but one example of how uniquely challenging remote learning can be for many students with disabilities and other accessibility needs. To learn more about the types of supports that students, especially those with disabilities, will need to succeed in an online learning environment this fall, we have been interviewing student representatives, faculty and staff at Ontario colleges and universities, as well as community advocates. We have also surveyed more than 600 students- about 200 of whom have a self-reported disability. We will be publishing a report later this summer that summarizes the data we have collected and shares practical advice with institutions for supporting student success during the pandemic and recovery.

Though we are still in the process of analyzing the data, we’d like to share a few of the recommendations for supporting accessibility that have surfaced so far. We hope these recommendations will assist faculty and staff as they prepare for the fall term:

Lean on your colleagues

In the example above, we described a student whose experience would drastically improve if the chat function were disabled during the lecture or if they had access to instructions for navigating course platforms (e.g. how to use Zoom with a screen reader). In either case, addressing this student’s needs requires empathy and strategic thinking ahead of time both things that support staff at colleges and universities can help faculty with as they design and deliver courses.

Time and again, our interviewees stressed the need for collaboration between faculty and staff in creating accessible learning environments. With their advice in mind, we encourage instructors at Ontario postsecondary institutions to draw upon the expertise of local Teaching and Learning Centres (e.g. Teaching & Learning Consultants, Curriculum Development Specialists, Educational Technology Specialists) as well as Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) offices and offices for students with disabilities. These specialists are often experts in Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles and can help in the design and delivery of courses for the fall, which can help relieve the burden for students (and faculty) who might have otherwise needed to seek out accommodations.

Empower students to make choices that suit their needs

While UDL can certainly help optimize learning for most students, it’s unfortunately not always possible to design and deliver courses in a way that suits the needs of all learners at once. The good news is that by being upfront about both course format and what’s required to participate and succeed, instructors can empower students to make course selections that suit individual learning goals and needs (provided disability-related accommodations are available).

The student representatives we interviewed identified a variety of personal preferences and needs. For example, a student who is Deaf, deaf or hard of hearing may prefer to watch asynchronous lectures with Closed Captioning rather than synchronous lectures taught over Zoom. A student with a cognitive disability who appreciates the ability to pause, slow down and rewind content might have a similar preference, especially if access to accommodations like notetaking is hindered by the pandemic. For another student, having a set schedule of live lectures and discussion groups might help with motivation.

Students know what works for them. If there are a variety of course formats to choose from, and the details of course delivery are communicated clearly in the course catalogue ahead of the semester, students can select the courses that best suit their needs.

Instructors should also strive to share information about course requirements and participation expectations as soon as possible. This way students can obtain resources in an accessible format (i.e. texts with enlarged print) and/or arrange for accommodations, if required. Sharing information about expectations early can also help alleviate student anxiety about what to expect, supporting well-being and retention.

Enable transferable skill development

Lastly, most of our interviewees reminded us that all students, not just those with disabilities or accessibility needs, will require specific transferable skills to be successful with remote and online learning. Skills like digital literacy, time management, self-efficacy and organization will be essential this fall and they’ll also come in handy after graduation.

Instructors can facilitate the development of these skills at the course-level by providing suggested timelines for completing assignments, especially for asynchronous courses, and models or templates for time management in the context of their course.

Institutions and instructors should also consider sharing learning strategies with their students, either in-class, or through co-curricular activities like workshops, online videos or tip sheets that nudge students to adjust and apply some of their learning strategies for an online context.

We will have lots more to say about this important topic in our upcoming report. We will build upon the recommendations above and share additional advice about the practicalities of delivering remote and online content in an accessible way. We have also heard a lot about the positive aspects of remote learning from an accessibility standpoint and we will share those as well as thoughts about how to play up the positives.

In the meantime, we acknowledge that this is a stressful time for instructors. Students themselves have told us the same. They understand that moving courses online is a lot of work, especially during a global pandemic. That’s why we encourage you to lean on the supports at your institution, take comfort in the idea that (with full information) students know what works for them and share ideas amongst your peers (as we’re seeing instructors like Dr. Campbell do on Twitter) rather than re-inventing the wheel. By working together institutions and instructors can ensure all students are able to succeed this fall and thereafter.

Jackie Pichette is director of Research, Policy and Partnerships at HEQCO; Jessica Rizk is a researcher. About Us ?

Francais

Jackie Pichette and Jessica Rizk Three recommendations for accessible remote learning

Jackie Pichette and Jessica Rizk Three recommendations for accessible remote learning

Posted: July 17, 2020/Under: Jackie Pichette, Other HEQCO Staff/By: heqco

AccessLearning OutcomesSkills

Adapting to the realities of remote schooling has been challenging. Since the COVID-19 pandemic sent our province into a state of emergency, many students have had to turn bedrooms into offices, kitchen tables into classrooms and parking lots into hotspots. While all Ontario learners have had to adapt to overcome barriers, those barriers have been amplified for many students with disabilities.

Imagine for a minute that you have low vision and require a screen reader to navigate online platforms like Zoom. Imagine you’re logging in for your first remote lecture of the semester, excited to be back in the (virtual) classroom. To encourage participation, your instructor begins by inviting students to pose questions using the chat feature. As your instructor dives into their thought-provoking lecture, your screen reader starts reciting aloud questions and comments posed by your peers, drowning out the instructor’s voice.

A student recently described a similar scenario to us. “I ended up getting two things coming at me at once, which was distracting and very hard to follow,” they shared. Being new to Zoom, this student wasn’t sure how to disable the chat or pose a question or comment themselves.

It’s but one example of how uniquely challenging remote learning can be for many students with disabilities and other accessibility needs. To learn more about the types of supports that students, especially those with disabilities, will need to succeed in an online learning environment this fall, we have been interviewing student representatives, faculty and staff at Ontario colleges and universities, as well as community advocates. We have also surveyed more than 600 students- about 200 of whom have a self-reported disability. We will be publishing a report later this summer that summarizes the data we have collected and shares practical advice with institutions for supporting student success during the pandemic and recovery.

Though we are still in the process of analyzing the data, we’d like to share a few of the recommendations for supporting accessibility that have surfaced so far. We hope these recommendations will assist faculty and staff as they prepare for the fall term:

Lean on your colleagues

In the example above, we described a student whose experience would drastically improve if the chat function were disabled during the lecture or if they had access to instructions for navigating course platforms (e.g. how to use Zoom with a screen reader). In either case, addressing this student’s needs requires empathy and strategic thinking ahead of time both things that support staff at colleges and universities can help faculty with as they design and deliver courses.

Time and again, our interviewees stressed the need for collaboration between faculty and staff in creating accessible learning environments. With their advice in mind, we encourage instructors at Ontario postsecondary institutions to draw upon the expertise of local Teaching and Learning Centres (e.g. Teaching & Learning Consultants, Curriculum Development Specialists, Educational Technology Specialists) as well as Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) offices and offices for students with disabilities. These specialists are often experts in Universal Design for Learning(UDL) principles and can help in the design and delivery of courses for the fall, which can help relieve the burden for students (and faculty) who might have otherwise needed to seek out accommodations.

Empower students to make choices that suit their needs

While UDL can certainly help optimize learning for most students, it’s unfortunately not always possible to design and deliver courses in a way that suits the needs of all learners at once. The good news is that by being upfront about both course format and what’s required to participate and succeed, instructors can empower students to make course selections that suit individual learning goals and needs (provided disability-related accommodations are available).

The student representatives we interviewed identified a variety of personal preferences and needs. For example, a student who is Deaf, deaf or hard of hearing may prefer to watch asynchronous lectures with Closed Captioning rather than synchronous lectures taught over Zoom. A student with a cognitive disability who appreciates the ability to pause, slow down and rewind content might have a similar preference, especially if access to accommodations like notetaking is hindered by the pandemic. For another student, having a set schedule of live lectures and discussion groups might help with motivation.

Students know what works for them. If there are a variety of course formats to choose from, and the details of course delivery are communicated clearly in the course catalogue ahead of the semester, students can select the courses that best suit their needs.

Students know what works for them. If there are a variety of course formats to choose from, and the details of course delivery are communicated clearly in the course catalogue ahead of the semester, students can select the courses that best suit their needs.

Instructors should also strive to share information about course requirements and participation expectations as soon as possible. This way students can obtain resources in an accessible format (i.e. texts with enlarged print) and/or arrange for accommodations, if required. Sharing information about expectations early can also help alleviate student anxiety about what to expect, supporting well-being and retention.

Enable transferable skill development

Lastly, most of our interviewees reminded us that all students, not just those with disabilities or accessibility needs, will require specific transferable skills to be successful with remote and online learning. Skills like digital literacy, time management, self-efficacy and organization will be essential this fall and they’ll also come in handy after graduation.

Instructors can facilitate the development of these skills at the course-level by providing suggested timelines for completing assignments, especially for asynchronous courses, and models or templates for time management in the context of their course.

Institutions and instructors should also consider sharing learning strategies with their students, either in-class, or through co-curricular activities like workshops, online videos or tip sheets that nudge students to adjust and apply some of their learning strategies for an online context.

We will have lots more stay about this important topic in our upcoming report. We will build upon the recommendations above and share additional advice about the practicalities of delivering remote and online content in an accessible way. We have also heard a lot about the positive aspects of remote learning from an accessibility standpoint and we will share those as well as thoughts about how to play up the positives.

In the meantime, we acknowledge that this is a stressful time for instructors. Students themselves have told us the same. They understand that moving courses online is a lot of work, especially during a global pandemic. That’s why we encourage you to lean on the supports at your institution, take comfort in the idea that (with full information) students know what works for them and share ideas amongst your peers (as we’re seeing instructors like Dr. Campbelldo on Twitter) rather than re-inventing the wheel. By working together institutions and instructors can ensure all students are able to succeed this fall and thereafter.

Jackie Pichette is director of Research, Policy and Partnerships at HEQCO; Jessica Rizk is a researcher.

About HEQCO<‘/h2>

The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) is an agency of the Government of Ontario bringing evidence-based research to the continued improvement of postsecondary education in Ontario

Original at http://blog-en.heqco.ca/2020/07/jackie-pichette-and-jessica-rizk-three-recommendations-for-accessible-remote-learning/




Source link

Accessible Public Transportation After the COVID-19 Pandemic


As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, we cheer ourselves by thinking of future socializing in-person. We also think about returning to work or activities we love. These hopes help us through the challenges of physical distancing. Moreover, these challenges show us that we can be more flexible or more creative than we thought we could. For instance, transportation providers have adapted to new ways of serving the public during the pandemic. In the post-COVID-19 future, more transportation providers may recognize the value of adapting their vehicles and services to meet citizens’ diverse needs. Consequently, more service providers may offer accessible public transportation after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Accessible PublicTransportation After the COVID-19 Pandemic

As physical distancing continues, transportation providers have made changes to the services they offer. For instance, busses have changed their schedules and seating arrangements. Similarly, many bus companies have waived fees in order to allow riders to board through back doors. All these changes make vehicles safer for essential workers and other people who need to travel on public transit, such as buses and trains. In the same way, transportation companies can adapt just as proactively to better serve travellers with disabilities.

Current AODA Requirements for Conventional Transportation Providers

Currently, the Transportation Standards of the AODA only mandate accessibility in public transit vehicles if:

  • The vehicles were made on or after January 1st, 2013
  • The vehicles were purchased on or after July 1st, 2011

In addition, if companies update one feature of their vehicles, such as signage, the updated feature must be accessible. However, remaining features continue to be inaccessible. This limitation to the standards means that older vehicles may not be welcoming to passengers with disabilities.

Some individuals responsible for vehicle oversight at public transit companies may feel that they do not need to worry about making older vehicles accessible because the AODA does not require them to do so. They may also fear that installing accessible features will be costly, time-consuming, or inconvenient. However, companies with accessible vehicles better serve both drivers and passengers.

Vehicle Accessibility

For example, different vehicle set-ups offer passengers different levels of independence. The wheelchair-accessible seats on some vehicles allow many people to secure their own assistive devices. In contrast, other vehicles require drivers to secure passengers’ wheelchairs, scooters, and other devices. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these differences in vehicle accessibility impact drivers and passengers in new ways.

The Transportation Standards require drivers to provide assistance securing passengers, upon request. However, some drivers feel that providing this assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic is not safe. Like workers in all essential services, bus drivers deserve to be safe and supported as they do their important work. Nonetheless, serving passengers with disabilities, including securing passengers, is part of that essential work. People of all abilities need to travel to their jobs and essential services, like stores or doctors.

When public transit companies invest in vehicles with more accessibility features, their drivers and passengers will be less likely to face this dilemma. In other words, the more accessible vehicles are, the safer they are for drivers and passengers. When transportation companies choose to improve their vehicle accessibility, the changes they make may later bring benefits they do not expect.




Source link

Accessible School Resources After the COVID-19 Pandemic


As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, we cheer ourselves by thinking of future socializing in-person. We also think about returning to work or activities we love. These hopes help us through the challenges of physical distancing. Moreover, these challenges show us that we can be more flexible or more creative than we thought we could. For instance, organizations, from media outlets to stores, have adapted to new ways of providing information during the pandemic. Many of these adaptations are also practices that make information more accessible for viewers with disabilities. More information is being offered online, in accessible formats, or with communication supports. In the post-COVID-19 future, more people may recognize the value of adapting information to meet citizens’ diverse needs. Consequently, more educators may offer accessible school resources after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Accessible School Resources After the COVID-19 Pandemic

Remote learning requirements mean that more school and library resources are now online. Teachers, school staff, and school board personnel are presenting lessons and other school information in new ways. For instance, teachers are now receiving and grading student work online, rather than in hard copies. Similarly, students may be using online learning resources more often than print textbooks.

School staff, and other producers of educational resources, are adapting to the need for school resources in new formats. In the same way, schools, school boards, and other educational institutions can learn to improve the accessibility of school resources.

Accessible Formats for School Resources

School staff may now upload lessons or handouts in formats that are not accessible. For example, many portable document format (PDF) documents are not accessible. Due to the rapid transition to online learning, some staff may think about accessibility as an afterthought. For instance, staff may post accessible versions of documents after PDFs have already been posted. Instead, staff should make these documents accessible from the start by creating the original documents in accessible formats, such as Word or HTML.

Likewise, ebooks can be an important alternative to hard-copy print books. 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 school or student has bought or requested it. However, if all ebooks were accessible from the start, publishers would not need to convert them later.

Similarly, all academic publishers could create accessible-format versions of all the books or journals they publish. Therefore, accessible formats would be available for all books school libraries buy, and all journals they subscribe to. As a result, school library staff would be better prepared to meet the research needs of students with disabilities.

Schools and school boards are becoming accustomed to providing information in different ways. They can adapt just as easily to making more learning resources accessible. In this way, they can better serve students, educators, and parents with disabilities.




Source link

Accessible Formats After the COVID-19 Pandemic


As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, we cheer ourselves by thinking of future socializing in-person. We also think about returning to work or activities we love. These hopes help us through the challenges of physical distancing. Moreover, these challenges show us that we can be more flexible or more creative than we thought we could. For instance, organizations, from media outlets to stores, have adapted to new ways of providing information during the pandemic. Many of these adaptations are also practices that make information more accessible for viewers with disabilities. More information is being offered online, in accessible formats, or with communication supports. In the post-COVID-19 future, more people may recognize the value of adapting information to meet citizens’ diverse needs. Consequently, more service providers may improve their accessible formats after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Accessible Formats After the COVID-19 Pandemic

As businesses encourage people to stay home and contact them remotely, people rely more on online information. For instance, more people may now use apps to access store flyers instead of reading hard-copy print versions. Similarly, people may order groceries online rather than browsing store aisles in person. Moreover, these ways of accessing information online may be new to some customers. As a result, staff may be supporting customers by describing how their online services work, or troubleshooting remotely.

In short, businesses and other organizations have started adapting the ways they communicate in order to reach a wider audience. In the same way, organizations can just as easily provide more information in accessible formats. For instance, online information, from COVID-19 news to flyers about sales, reaches more people through websites accessible to computer users with disabilities. Websites become accessible by complying with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA, an international standard. When online information is accessible, computer users with disabilities can read it in many ways, including:

  • Braille, through a Braille printer or Braille display
  • Large print, using screen magnification software
  • Audio, through screen reading software

Businesses and other organizations are becoming accustomed to providing information in different ways. These organizations may want to start making their information accessible, to welcome new viewers and customers. Furthermore, organizations that have started offering accessible formats may recognize their benefits and offer them on an ongoing basis.




Source link

Accessible Remote Learning After the COVID-19 Pandemic


As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, we cheer ourselves by thinking of future socializing in-person. We also think about returning to work or activities we love. These hopes help us through the challenges of physical distancing. Moreover, these challenges show us that we can be more flexible or more creative than we thought we could. For instance, education during the pandemic has taken new forms and new strategies for success. Many of these strategies are also practices that help schools and school boards accommodate students with disabilities. Teachers and other staff are working in new ways and supporting students in diverse circumstances. In the post-COVID-19 future, more educators may learn how student performance improves through diverse teaching strategies. Consequently, more schools and school boards may continue to use diverse teaching strategies to support students with disabilities. For example, schools and school boards may offer accessible remote learning after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Accessible Remote Learning After the COVID-19 Pandemic

In response to school closures, schools, colleges, and universities are implementing online learning. Before COVID-19, students could sometimes choose to take a course or program of study online. However, some online platforms or courses are not accessible for students with disabilities. As a result, these students could choose to take all courses in person. However, during COVID-19, online learning is no longer a choice. If a course or platform is not accessible for a student with a disability, schools and school boards must make that student’s online learning accessible. Therefore, some teachers or school board staff may need to use new methods of planning or teaching online courses. In addition, school staff may recognize the benefits of these new accessible strategies and offer them on an on-going basis.

Accessible Online Learning Platforms

When a school or school board offers lessons online, it must choose the  educational apps or online platforms that will host courses. To reach every student, schools and school boards must choose platforms that are accessible for students and educators using assistive technology. For example, the website students log onto should be accessible using:

  • Screen readers
  • Screen magnification
  • Keyboard or voice commands, instead of a mouse

However, because schools have turned to online learning quickly, they may not have thought about accessibility when choosing a learning platform. Nonetheless, they must still provide access to lessons for students who cannot access the learning platform. Therefore, they should work with the student, and their school’s accessibility professionals, to find solutions. For instance, schools may need to provide lesson content through email.

Accessible Slides, Audio, and Video

When teachers present lessons in-person, they often use slides, audio, or video. Moreover, teachers should have experience making these formats accessible to learners of all abilities. For instance, students who do not process visual information may not be able to read slides. Instead, they will rely on the spoken words of the lecture. Alternatively, they may find other ways to access visual elements of the lesson, such as:

For instance, a teacher may reproduce them in an accessible format, such as Braille or large print.

In contrast, learners who do not process audio information may not hear a lecture or the sound on a video. Instead, they will rely on the text and images on the slides. Alternatively, they may access information through communication supports, such as Sign language interpretation or real-time captioning.

Schools and school boards must ensure that all students receive the support they need to access lesson content. For instance, students may connect to a Sign language interpreter remotely. Likewise, teachers can create detailed verbal descriptions of visual elements.

Exercises and Tests

In addition, schools and school boards should ensure that the online versions of class activities and tests are accessible to all students. For instance, educators should avoid activities that rely on seeing, hearing, or moving and clicking a mouse. Types of exercises to avoid include questions that ask learners to:

  • Choose one item in a picture
  • Identify a sound

There are easy ways to avoid these kinds of questions. Educators can:

  • include lists of choices and ask students to select all that apply
  • use buttons screen readers recognize, such as radio buttons or checkboxes

A range of question types, such as multiple choice, true or false, check-all-that-apply, and short-answer, can provide variety while remaining accessible.

Accessible online learning should be available for learners of all abilities. There are many things schools, school boards, and teachers can do to make online courses that everyone can learn from. Moreover, these strategies will continue to be useful for accessible remote learning after the COVID-19 pandemic.




Source link

Accessible Restaurant Service in the COVID-19 Pandemic


Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. Our last article outlined how restaurants can make menus and other information accessible. In this article, we cover best practices for accessible restaurant service in the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, we look at how hosts and servers can find ways to make their service welcoming to diners who need accessible features that a restaurant does not have yet.

Accessible Restaurant Service in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Serving Diners

Servers taking orders should understand how to communicate with diners in ways that take their disabilities into account. Moreover, they should know how to communicate remotely when taking orders or describing changes to their menus or services. Alternatively, they should know how to communicate in person when delivering orders to diners’ cars or houses.

Menus

When a restaurant does not have menus in the format a diner needs, servers should read the menu aloud. Servers should also be prepared to read menus aloud upon request. Diners will explain how they would like the menu read. For instance, one diner might like to know what the main headings are. Then, the diner can choose to find out more about certain sections. Another diner might first want to know the names of all the meal choices. Then, the diner might ask for descriptions of certain dishes. Other diners may want to read the whole menu and return to items they are most interested in.

Service Changes

Similarly, when restaurants have changed how they operate in response to the pandemic, not all customers may be aware of these changes. For instance, if a restaurant’s website is inaccessible, computer users with disabilities cannot read it. As a result, servers may need to communicate directly with diners to tell them about changes in:

  • Contactless take-out procedures
  • New or changed delivery options
  • Their menus
  • Hours of operation

Accessible restaurant service in the COVID-19 pandemic ensures that all diners have a pleasant experience. For many diners with disabilities, excellent service is as memorable as excellent food. Diners treated with dignity will want to come back for a second meal.




Source link

Accessible Formats in the COVID-19 Pandemic


The Information and Communications Standards of the AODA state that organizations must create, provide, and receive information and communications that people with disabilities can access. This mandate includes the need to present printed information in accessible formats. Accessible formats, sometimes called alternate formats, are ways of presenting printed, written, or visual material so that people with print disabilities can access it. When people think of accessible formats, they may picture elements of buildings, such as Braille elevator buttons or large-print signs. However, there are many other ways to make printed information accessible remotely. As a result, organizations should commit to making information available in accessible formats in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Accessible Formats in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Braille

Braille is a way of writing the alphabet using a system of raised dots that readers feel with their fingers. Braille was invented by a young blind teenager, named Louis Braille, over two hundred years ago. Many young children who are blind learn Braille while their sighted friends are learning print. People who become blind later in life can also learn Braille.

Many books and magazines are translated into Braille and are available to buy or borrow. Moreover, some businesses offer information in Braille, such as:

  • Bank statements
  • Bills
  • Forms
  • Menus

In addition to hard-copy Braille, people can now use Braille displays to read their computer or phone screens in Braille. People can also print documents in Braille using translation software and Braille printers. As a result, technology has made Braille easier to produce than ever before. Furthermore, people can create information in Braille remotely. However, people can do so far more easily if the computer files they are working with are accessible.

Large Print

People who are visually impaired often read print that is 18-point font or larger with good colour contrast. Large-print copies of books, signs, and other media are sometimes available. In addition, people may read standard-sized print by using a magnification device. However, print may still not be large enough, there may not be enough colour contrast, or people may only see a few letters at a time. Alternatively, people may read print on computers or mobile devices using:

  • Large fonts
  • High-contrast settings
  • Screen magnification technology
  • Large monitors
  • Website settings that allow users to enlarge text and images

Computer Files and Accessible Web Content

People can read digital text files and accessible web content using screen readers, software programs that read aloud most text on the screen of a computer or mobile device. For instance, screen reader users can read information in:

In these formats, people can read online or emailed versions of documents such as:

  • Bank statements
  • Bills and receipts
  • Forms
  • Brochures, menus, and event programs

However, not all print on computer or phone screens is accessible. Screen readers can interpret text-based information, such as Microsoft Word files or HTML, and some PDFs. However, screen readers cannot interpret image-based information, such as:

  • A copy of an article made from a picture of the text
  • Information on a poster in a JPG file

In addition, many websites and apps do not interface well with assistive technologies, such as screen readers or screen magnification. For example, many websites include buttons that only work when they are clicked with a mouse. As a result, people who operate their computers using keyboard or voice commands cannot click these buttons.

Therefore, organizations creating new web content should ensure that it complies with WCAG guidelines, international standards for web accessibility. Moreover, organizations should ensure that all potential visitors have access to web content that does not yet comply with WCAG. For instance, organizations can support customers by phone, through reading web content aloud or clicking the buttons customers request. There are many ways that organizations can present information using accessible formats in the COVID-19 pandemic.




Source link