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Our Campaign for An Education Accessibility Standard Gets another Important boost

Public School Elementary Teachers’ Union Endorses Our Call for the Ontario Government to Develop an Education Accessibility Standard

July 16, 2013
SUMMARY

Our campaign to get the Ontario Government to agree to develop an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act has received another important boost. The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), representing over 76,000 teachers, occasional teachers and educational workers in the front line of Ontario’s public schools, has written Ontario’s Economic Development, Trade and Employment Minister, Dr. Eric Hoskins, to support our call for the Government to develop an Education Accessibility Standard. ETFO’s July 11, 2013, letter to Minister Hoskins is set out below.

For over two years, we have urged the Government to develop the next three accessibility standards to address barriers facing people with disabilities in the areas of education, health care services, and residential housing. For background on our July 10, 2012, proposal for those new accessibility standards, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/07102012.asp

For a more detailed explanation of why Ontario needs an Education Accessibility Standard to ensure that Ontario’s education system becomes fully accessible to students and educational staff with disability by 2025, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06282013.asp

The endorsement of the public school elementary teachers’ union follows the recent endorsement that we received from OCUFA, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. OCUFA represents some 17,000 university professors and university library workers around Ontario.

We very much appreciate ETFO’s and OCUFA’s publicly supporting our call for an Education Accessibility Standard. Both organizations speak for thousands of those who work in the front lines of Ontario’s education system, whether at the elementary school or university levels. Both reflect the pressing need to take new action in Ontario to tear down barriers that impede students with disabilities and those with disabilities who work in Ontario’s education system. The Ontario Government should listen to our call, bolstered and buttressed by these important endorsements. To read OCUFA’s endorsement of our call for an Education Accessibility Standard, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06282013.asp

Last month the Ontario Government made its long-overdue final appointments to the body that is responsible for developing new accessibility standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council (ASAC). However, the Government still remains silent on what new accessibility standards it will direct ASAC to develop. All it has publicly asked ASAC to do is to conduct the mandatory review of Ontario’s five-year-old Customer Service Accessibility Standard. To learn more about the Ontario Government’s failure to date to decide what new accessibility standards ASAC will develop, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06282013.asp

Five by-elections will be held in Ontario on August 1, 2013. We urge one and all to raise disability accessibility standards issues in these by-elections. For example, ask the candidates if they support our call for Ontario to develop an Education Accessibility Standard. We have sent tweets on Twitter to all the candidates of the three major parties in these by-elections, to raise our disability accessibility issues with them.

For easy-to-use tips on how to raise disability accessibility issues in these by-elections, whether or not you live in a riding where a by-election is to be held, check out our July 10, 2013 Ontario By-election Accessibility Action Kit, available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/07102013.asp

In other accessibility news, an inexcusable 46 days have passed since the legal deadline for the Ontario Government to appoint an Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The Government is still violating that law. It is thereby continuing to set a terrible example for other organizations that have to obey that law. You can read our May 31, 2013, guest column in the on-line edition of the Toronto Star on the Government’s failure to appoint an Independent Review of the Disabilities Act by the May 31, 2013, deadline by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/05312013.asp

As well, an unjustified 175 days have passed since we wrote the Ontario Government to ask for its plans to keep its pledge to effectively enforce the AODA. We have received no substantive public response to that inquiry. To learn more about our request for the Ontario Government’s plans to enforce the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, visit http://is.gd/XdwlVG

We always urge you to send us your feedback. Write us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

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Learn more about our campaign for a barrier-free Ontario for all people with disabilities at: www.aodaalliance.org
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Text of the July 11 2013 Letter from the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario to the Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment

July 11, 2013

The Honourable Eric Hoskins, MPP
Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment
Hearst Block, 8th Floor
900 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 2E1

Dear Minister Hoskins,

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) welcomes the development of an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) 2005. ETFO represents over 76,000 teachers, occasional teachers, and education workers employed in Ontario public elementary schools. We have a long involvement in social justice and human rights issues.

The AODA Alliance has been advocating for the creation of additional accessibility standards in the areas of education, health care services, and residential housing. ETFO believes that the development, enactment, and enforcement of an Education Accessibility Standard, under the AODA, 2005 would be beneficial to all Ontarians. This new standard would be helpful in addressing the many barriers that our members, education employees, and students with disabilities encounter in the public school system. ETFO would also be very interested in participating in the process of developing the standard.

It is important for the Ontario government to begin work on the development of the Education Accessibility Standard to ensure that Ontario’s public education system is barrier free and fully accessible for all by the year 2025.

Yours sincerely,

Sam Hammond,
President

SH:AP:SC
Cc: The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario
The Honourable Liz Sandals, Minister of Education
David Lepofsky, Chair of the AODA Alliance