Currently, the AODA only has five standards that Ontario organizations must follow to become more accessible. Committees are making more standards to prevent or remove barriers that current standards do not address. One of the standards that does not exist yet is an education standard. Two committees have been created to recommend what an education standard should include. One committee will identify barriers facing students from kindergarten to grade twelve. It will then recommend how an education standard should remove those barriers. In contrast, the other committee will identify barriers facing students in university and college. It will then recommend how a standard can support these students. In the meantime, however, there are still AODA requirements for educational institutions to follow.
AODA Requirements for Educational Institutions
Requirements in all AODA standards apply to any organization with at least one worker. Most educational institutions fit this description. For instance:
- Public and private schools
- School boards
- School libraries
- Producers of educational or training materials, such as textbook publishers
Therefore, even though there is not yet an education standard, organizations that offer schooling must still obey the AODA. For instance, under the Design of Public Spaces Standards, newly-built or renovated schools must be accessible. For example, students who use assistive devices should be able to access new schools. Moreover, under the Information and Communications Standards, schools need to provide educational materials in accessible ways. For example, staff need to use accessible formats and communication supports when students need them.
Furthermore, under the Customer Service Standards, students must be able to access all goods, services, and facilities related to education. For example, school staff must have training on how to teach students with disabilities. In addition, under the Transportation Standards, students with disabilities must be able to travel to school in accessible ways. For example, school boards must create individual transportation plans for students with disabilities. Finally, under the Employment Standards, educational institutions must make their employment practices accessible. For example, schools must hire accessibly.
Our next few articles will talk in more detail about AODA requirements for educational institutions. We will describe how aspects of the standards apply to educational institutions. We will also consider how school situations can suggest ways to make existing AODA standards more helpful for Ontarians.