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Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance April 11 Update

There Have Been 127 Days Since Premier Wynne Promised to Create an Education Accessibility Standard, But the Wynne Government Hasn’t Yet Posted an Ad Inviting People to Apply to Serve on the Education Standards Development Committee and
Encourage All Teachers, Principals and School Board Officials to Watch a New Video on Ensuring that Students with Disabilities Are Able to Thrive in Fully Accessible, Inclusive Classrooms

United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities http://www.aodaalliance.org aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance

April 11, 2017

SUMMARY

We are very concerned about the Wynne Government’s ongoing delays in getting started on developing an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. An excessive 127 days have passed since Premier Wynne promised to develop an Education Accessibility Standard to tear down the accessibility barriers impeding students with disabilities. Yet her Government has not taken the simple first step to get going.

Over a third of a million students with disabilities in Ontario need the Government to end the delay and get moving. This Update shows how you can help get the Wynne Government to post an ad, inviting members of the public to apply to serve on the Education Standards Development Committee, and to ensure that that Committee doesn’t have its hands tied before it even begins its work.

This Update also gives you links to two important new videos that you can circulate, to help the cause of ensuring equal educational opportunities for students with disabilities in Ontario.

More details
1. The Wynne Government Should Stop Delaying the Start of the Process of Developing the Promised Education Accessibility Standard
Please help us press the Wynne Government to take the very first step it must take, quite an easy one, to start the process of developing the promised Education Accessibility Standard. It’s easy to help. We give you action tips later in this Update.

What’s the problem? We were delighted back on December 5, 2016, when Premier Wynne announced in the Ontario legislature that her Government had agreed to develop an Education Accessibility Standard under the AODA. The AODA Alliance leads the non-partisan campaign to get the Government to do so. We need an Education Accessibility Standard to remove the many accessibility barriers in Ontario’s education system, in schools, colleges, universities and other places where education is provided.

The first step the Wynne Government must take to get the ball rolling is to simply post an ad that invites members of the public to apply to serve on the Education Standards Development Committee. That is the arm’s length committee the Government must appoint under the AODA to craft recommendations on what the Education Accessibility Standard should include.

Fully 127 days, one third of a year, have now passed since Premier Wynne announced that her Government would create an Education Accessibility Standard. How long does it take to post an ad? The longer the Government delays, the further behind Ontario falls.

Ontario is already well behind schedule for becoming fully accessible by 2025, the mandatory deadline that the AODA sets. Less than eight years remain before that deadline.

We want the Government to get the Education Standards Development Committee up and running as soon as possible. We are eager for it to issue its recommendations well before the June 7, 2018 Ontario general election, so that the political parties and candidates can be asked to make election commitments arising from those recommendations. The longer the Wynne Government takes to post this ad, the shorter will be the time for the Education Standards Development Committee to complete its work.

The Wynne Government has a record of excessive delays in this area. Back on February 13, 2015, the Wynne Government commendably announced that it would create a Health Care Accessibility Standard under the AODA. We applauded that decision, for which we had campaigned for years. However, after that, it took the Wynne Government over two years just to appoint a Standards Development Committee to advise on what the promised Health Care Accessibility Standard should include.

The AODA Alliance wrote Accessibility Minister Tracy MacCharles on March 16, 2017. We asked for an update on the Government’s actions on accessibility. We have not yet received an answer. Among the things we asked in that letter was:

“By when will you post an announcement inviting people to apply to serve on the Education Standards Development Committee, and by when will that Committee be appointed?”
2. The Wynne Government Should Not Impose Prior Restraints on Which Disability Accessibility Barriers in Ontario’s Education System the Promised Education Standards Development Committee Can Consider

We are concerned that the Wynne Government may be planning to impose prior restraints on the work of the promised Education Standards Development Committee before it even begins its work. We do not want the Government to try in advance to restrict which disability accessibility barriers in Ontario’s education system that the Education Standards Development Committee can even consider.

We know the Wynne Government earlier tried to wrongly tie the hands of the Standards Development Committee that will develop recommendations on what should be included in the promised Health Care Accessibility Standard. Last summer, many months before it even appointed a Health Care Standards Development Committee to come up with recommendations, the Wynne Government announced that it did not plan for the Health Care Accessibility Standard to include physical barriers in the health care system’s built environment. In its Discussion Guide that it made public as part of its 2016 summer “pre-consultation” on the promised Health Care Accessibility Standard, the Wynne Government stated that the following was not to even be considered in the Health Care Accessibility Standard:

“New requirements for the built environment where health services are provided”

We objected. On July 26, 2016, the AODA Alliance got the Wynne Government to back down from this. We pointed out that there were serious accessibility barriers in the brand-new Women’s College Hospital that had just opened. For a full report of what happened at the Ontario Government’s July 26, 2016 “pre-consultation” on the promised Health Care Accessibility Standard, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/08042016.asp

In our March 16, 2017 letter to Accessibility Minister Tracy MacCharles, ( for which, as noted above, an answer is anticipated but still not received), we also asked the Minister the following:

“Will you ensure that the Government does not impose prior restrictions on which disability accessibility barriers the Education Standards Development Committee can consider in our education system?”

The promised Education Standards Development Committee should be free to make any recommendations it wishes on any kinds of accessibility barriers in Ontario’s education system. Even if the Wynne Government were to try to tie the hands of the forthcoming Education Standards Development Committee, it won’t work. That Committee could and should nevertheless make whatever recommendations it wishes to the Government.
3. How You Can Help Press the Wynne Government on the Promised Education Accessibility Standard

* Please contact your member of the Ontario Legislature. Ask them to press Premier Wynne to immediately post the ad to invite members of the public to apply to serve on the Education Standards Development Committee. That Committee will make recommendations on what the promised Education Accessibility Standard should include to ensure that Ontario’s education system becomes fully accessible to students with disabilities in Ontario. To find contact information for members of the Ontario Legislature, visit www.aodaalliance.org/2016

* Ask your MPP to tell Premier Wynne that the Government should not restrict the range of accessibility barriers in Ontario’s education system that the promised Education Standards Development Committee can consider.

* Please re-tweet our tweets on this topic. The AODA Alliance is now sending out daily tweets to members of the Ontario Legislature and to the public, on this topic. We are running a daily count of how many days have passed since Premier Wynne promised to create an Education Accessibility Standard. Our tweets call for the Wynne Government to post an ad that invites people to apply to serve on the promised Education Standards Development Committee.
4. Please Encourage Others to Watch Two New Captioned Videos Regarding Accessibility Barriers in Ontario’s Education System

Two new captioned videos are available on the promised Education Accessibility Standard, featuring AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, who is also a visiting professor at the Osgoode Hall Law School. Please encourage people to watch them.
The first video is especially helpful for any teachers, school principals, and school principals in Ontario, and anyone who are studying to become a school teacher. It is entitled “Making education in the classroom accessible and inclusive for students with disabilities”, and is available at https://youtu.be/zY6Asm605UU

In this video, those who are studying to be school teachers are encouraged to learn to teach both students without disabilities and students with disabilities. Teachers should learn to teach students of all abilities. Practical tips are offered on how to succeed in teaching students with disabilities.

Do you know any teachers, principals or other school board employees? Please help us get every school teacher, school principal and school board official to watch this video. That will help us help make real progress towards making our schools and classrooms an accessible barrier-free place for students with disabilities to study, learn and Grow.

The second video, entitled ” Why Ontario Needs an Education Accessibility Standard”, is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zFmybyl9ew&t=6s

It can help you show your MPP and news media why we need a strong, effective Education Accessibility Standard in Ontario, and why Premier Wynne should get right to work on this now, without any further delay. This video was delivered at the Osgoode Hall Law School on November 29, 2016, just a week before Premier Wynne agreed to create an Education Accessibility Standard.

You can always send your feedback to us on any AODA and accessibility issue at aodafeedback@gmail.com

Have you taken part in our “Picture Our Barriers campaign? If not, please join in! You can get all the information you need about our “Picture Our Barriers” campaign by visiting www.aodaalliance.org/2016

To sign up for, or unsubscribe from AODA Alliance e-mail updates, write to: aodafeedback@gmail.com

We encourage you to use the Government’s toll-free number for reporting AODA violations. We fought long and hard to get the Government to promise this, and later to deliver on that promise. If you encounter any accessibility problems at any large retail establishments, it will be especially important to report them to the Government via that toll-free number. Call 1-866-515-2025.

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Why not subscribe to the AODA Alliance’s YouTube channel, so you can get immediate alerts when we post new videos on our accessibility campaign. https://www.youtube.com/user/aodaalliance

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Learn all about our campaign for a fully accessible Ontario by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org