CNIB feedback on proposed new education standards

11/16/2017

CNIB recently submitted feedback to the Government of Ontario’s consultation on the proposed Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Accessibility Standard for Education. Based on a survey of the sight loss community and our own subject matter expertise, our feedback provided a comprehensive look at the current state of educational support for parents, students, educators and teaching aids of blind and partially sighted students and found that there are still major gaps in support and accessibility within the Ontario educational system.

The feedback identified challenges and barriers in accessing support services available for the blind and partially sighted due to lack of: funding, communication, educational support and access to equipment and technologies.

The inability to access textbooks and course materials in an accessible format and a timely manner was also identified as one of the greatest barriers to academic success. Survey responses also indicated that parents and students are looking for more concise and informative support that caters to the varying individual needs of each student. It is concerning that parents are regularly forced to turn to community organizations (such as CNIB) for support and advice on how to access the correct accessibility supports for their child with a disability.

Highlights of the submitted feedback includes ways that schools, colleges and universities can improve their disability and accessibility awareness via:

  • Education and training
  • Environmental modifications
  • Transition coordinators
  • More active engagement of the special education departments of school boards.
It also calls for the creation of an Ombudsman or office at the school board or Ministry of Education level that is responsible for coordinating outreach efforts and education of guidance counselors.

Only 65 per cent of students with vision loss graduate from high school, compared to 81 per cent of the sighted population (2011 CNIB Needs Study). We believe that, with the correct academic and accessibility supports, students who are blind or partially sighted should be able to perform equally with their sighted peers. We commend the government for introducing this much needed Accessibility Standard for Education, which we hope will address these gaps within the system.

For more details, please view CNIB’s official feedback report submitted to the Government of Ontario.

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