Currently, there are no AODA education standards. However, two AODA standards development committees have drafted recommendations of guidelines that AODA education standards should include. One committee has recommended guidelines for the kindergarten to grade twelve (K-12) education system. In this article, we outline recommended guidelines for accessibility in school social activities.
Accessibility in School Social Activities
The Committee recognizes that students with disabilities are often socially isolated from their peers without disabilities. This isolation happens because of accessibility barriers, such as:
Furthermore, some students need support to learn social skills, or to take part in games or pastimes their peers enjoy. Current education requirements under the AODA focus on removing barriers within the classroom, such as making textbooks and other resources accessible. In addition, education standards should address barriers that limit students’ abilities to befriend and socialize with their peers.
Therefore, the Committee recommends that staff provide support for students with disabilities during school social activities. For example, a student or their family might ask for staff support during:
- Unstructured play or free time
- Other times when students are not usually supervised
Moreover, students’ individual education plans (IEPs) should include strategies to support students socially. Students should participate in a variety of structured and unstructured social activities. To foster this inclusion, school boards may partner with other organizations that promote social interaction between peers with and without disabilities. Similarly, school programs should also encourage peers with and without disabilities to explore shared interests and pastimes together. Finally, all members of school communities should learn about the need to welcome and include community members with disabilities.
All these programs should help everyone in the school community take concrete steps to include students with disabilities in school social activities.