Recently, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released its new Policy on accessible education for students with disabilities, along with recommendations on how to best meet legal obligations under Ontario’s Human Rights Code.
- recognizes that education is vitally important to a person’s social, academic and economic development
- reflects a broad definition of disability
- provides students and families with up-to-date information about their human rights and responsibilities
- offers practical guidance to education providers to meet their legal duty to accommodate
- reminds schools of their obligation to maintain accessible, inclusive, discrimination and harassment-free spaces
The recommendations set out actions the government, schools and post-secondary institutions should take to make the education system inclusive, function effectively and allow students with disabilities to thrive.
“For many children and youth with sight loss, navigating Ontario’s education system can be difficult. Thus, students often experience academic challenges, encounter significant pre-employment barriers, and miss out on formative life experiences. As a result, only 65 per cent of youth who are blind or partially sighted graduate from high school, compared to 81 per cent of their sighted peers, and only one third of working-age adults with sight loss are employed. That’s why it’s essential that children and youth receive the required support through these critical developmental stages. The right accommodations provide an essential foundation for a well-rounded, successful adulthood. We commend the Ontario Human Rights Commission for introducing this much-needed policy on accessible education for students with disabilities, which we hope will address these gaps within the system.” –Angela Bonfanti, Vice President, CNIB Foundation Ontario & Quebec.