Ford Government Finally Makes Public the Initial Recommendations by the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee on How to Make Ontario Schools Accessible for Students with Disabilities


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

June 1, 2021

At long last, the Ford Government today belatedly made public the initial or draft recommendations on what the promised Education Accessibility Standard should include. The Government-appointed K-12 Education Standards Development Committee submitted these initial or draft recommendations to the Government over two and a half months ago.

These will be available online for the public to submit feedback up to September 2, 2021, according to the Government announcement. That feedback will be sent to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee. The K-12 Education Standards Development Committee is then required to review that feedback and take it into account as it works to finalize its recommendations for the Government.

In addition to finding them on the Ford Government’s website, you can go to the AODA Alliance’s website to find the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s initial recommendations at https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Committee-Approved-K-12-Initial-Recommendations-Report-Submission-2021.docx In addition to finding it on the Government’s website, you can also go to the AODA Alliance website to download the survey that the Government created and is inviting the public to answer to give feedback on these draft recommendations at https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/K-12-Initial-Recommendations-Report-Survey-Word-Version.docx

In contravention of s, 10(1) of the AODA, the Ford Government has still not publicly posted the initial or draft recommendations of the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee. On May 7, 2021 AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky had to resort to filing a court application, arguing that the Ford Government is in breach of its duty to post the initial or final recommendations it receives from these Standards Development Committees upon receiving them. You can read more about that court application in the May 7, 2021 AODA Alliance Update.

The Government finally posted the initial recommendations of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee today, just two days before an upcoming conference call, scheduled for June 3, 2021 with a Superior Court judge. Lepofsky requested that call to ask that the Court schedule a hearing in court on his application as soon as possible on an urgent or expedited basis.

We will later have much to say about these initial or draft recommendations. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky is a member of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee. He took active part in the development of these initial recommendations. Lepofsky believes that the members of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee with whom he worked did an excellent job of undertaking the most thorough top-to-bottom review of Ontario’s education system in decades, if not ever, from the perspective of students with disabilities. He shares the committee’s eagerness for public feedback to help with the finalization of these recommendations.

The AODA Alliance welcomes your feedback on these initial or draft recommendations. To assist us in preparing a written brief to submit to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, send your feedback to us at [email protected]

We want all Standards Development Committees that are now underway to get their finalized recommendations completed, submitted to the Ford Government, and posted publicly well before the Ontario Election campaign begins next spring. We want to be able to press all major political parties and candidates for commitments to detailed reforms in Ontario’s education and health care systems, to make them barrier-free for people with disabilities. Any delay in posting a Standards Development Committee’s initial or final recommendations hurts people with disabilities, delays progress on accessibility, and makes it harder for us to effectively avail ourselves of the democratic process during a provincial election.

Parents of students with disabilities can benefit from AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s captioned online video, already seen over 2,000 times. It offers practical tips on how to advocate for students with disabilities in the school system. This video fits well within the focus of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s initial recommendations.

For more background on the AODA Alliances multi-year campaign to tear down the barriers facing students with disabilities at all levels of Ontario’s education system, check out the AODA Alliance website’s education page.

You can also read the AODA Alliance’s October 10, 2019 Framework for what the promised Education Accessibility Standard should include.

In honour of this week, National AccessAbility Week, read the report card that the AODA Alliance made public on the Ford Government’s performance on disability accessibility issues during its first three years in office. The Ford Government was awarded an “F” grade.




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Ford Government Finally Makes Public the Initial Recommendations by the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee on How to Make Ontario Schools Accessible for 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/

Ford Government Finally Makes Public the Initial Recommendations by the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee on How to Make Ontario Schools Accessible for Students with Disabilities

June 1, 2021

At long last, the Ford Government today belatedly made public the initial or draft recommendations on what the promised Education Accessibility Standard should include. The Government-appointed K-12 Education Standards Development Committee submitted these initial or draft recommendations to the Government over two and a half months ago.

These will be available online for the public to submit feedback up to September 2, 2021, according to the Government announcement. That feedback will be sent to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee. The K-12 Education Standards Development Committee is then required to review that feedback and take it into account as it works to finalize its recommendations for the Government.

In addition to finding them on the Ford Government’s website, you can go to the AODA Alliance’s website to find the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s initial recommendations at https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Committee-Approved-K-12-Initial-Recommendations-Report-Submission-2021.docx

In addition to finding it on the Government’s website, you can also go to the AODA Alliance website to download the survey that the Government created and is inviting the public to answer to give feedback on these draft recommendations at https://www.aodaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/K-12-Initial-Recommendations-Report-Survey-Word-Version.docx

In contravention of s, 10(1) of the AODA, the Ford Government has still not publicly posted the initial or draft recommendations of the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee. On May 7, 2021 AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky had to resort to filing a court application, arguing that the Ford Government is in breach of its duty to post the initial or final recommendations it receives from these Standards Development Committees upon receiving them. You can read more about that court application in the May 7, 2021 AODA Alliance Update.

The Government finally posted the initial recommendations of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee today, just two days before an upcoming conference call, scheduled for June 3, 2021 with a Superior Court judge. Lepofsky requested that call to ask that the Court schedule a hearing in court on his application as soon as possible on an urgent or expedited basis.

We will later have much to say about these initial or draft recommendations. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky is a member of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee. He took active part in the development of these initial recommendations. Lepofsky believes that the members of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee with whom he worked did an excellent job of undertaking the most thorough top-to-bottom review of Ontario’s education system in decades, if not ever, from the perspective of students with disabilities. He shares the committee’s eagerness for public feedback to help with the finalization of these recommendations.

The AODA Alliance welcomes your feedback on these initial or draft recommendations. To assist us in preparing a written brief to submit to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, send your feedback to us at [email protected].

We want all Standards Development Committees that are now underway to get their finalized recommendations completed, submitted to the Ford Government, and posted publicly well before the Ontario Election campaign begins next spring. We want to be able to press all major political parties and candidates for commitments to detailed reforms in Ontario’s education and health care systems, to make them barrier-free for people with disabilities. Any delay in posting a Standards Development Committee’s initial or final recommendations hurts people with disabilities, delays progress on accessibility, and makes it harder for us to effectively avail ourselves of the democratic process during a provincial election.

Parents of students with disabilities can benefit from AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky‘s captioned online video, already seen over 2,000 times. It offers practical tips on how to advocate for students with disabilities in the school system. This video fits well within the focus of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s initial recommendations.

For more background on the AODA Alliances multi-year campaign to tear down the barriers facing students with disabilities at all levels of Ontario’s education system, check out the AODA Alliance website’s education page.

You can also read the AODA Alliance’s October 10, 2019 Framework for what the promised Education Accessibility Standard should include.

In honour of this week, National AccessAbility Week, read the report card that the AODA Alliance made public on the Ford Government’s performance on disability accessibility issues during its first three years in office. The Ford Government was awarded an “F” grade.



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

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

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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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


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/

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?

2. If your child is taking part in distance learning, how is it going? Are they learning as much as when they are at school?

3. 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?

4. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

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


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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

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

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

August 24, 2020

          SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For example, you might post this on Facebook:

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

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

 3. Helpful Media Coverage Once Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          MORE DETAILS

 CBC News Online August 22, 2020

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

Students with disability face more obstacles amid coronavirus: advocates

Osobe Waberi The Canadian Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We realize the time is ticking.”



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