Let’s celebrate victories, even interim ones! We have just won one.
On Thursday, May 25, 2017, after we waged a 171-day campaign, the Wynne Government has finally started the delayed process of recruiting people to serve on the promised Education Standards Development Committee, to be appointed under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. That Committee will come up with recommendations that it will submit to the Ontario Government on what the promised Education Accessibility Standard should include.
What is this all about, you ask? The Education Accessibility Standard is needed to ensure that Ontario’s education system becomes fully accessible to over one-third of a million students with disabilities. It should spell out the actions that educational organizations should take to remove and prevent accessibility barriers against students with disabilities at all levels of Ontario’s education system.
For years, the AODA Alliance called for the Ontario Government to develop an Education Accessibility Standard under the AODA. Students with disabilities face far too many accessibility barriers at all levels of Ontario’s education system.
In our last interim victory in this campaign, back on December 5, 2016, Premier Wynne commendably announced in the Ontario Legislature that her Government had agreed to develop an Education Accessibility Standard. She said this in an answer to a question during Question Period from Conservative MPP Bill Walker. Mr. Walker pressed Premier Wynne to agree to create an Education Accessibility Standard.
After that December 5, 2016 announcement, the next step that the Wynne Government had to take under the AODA to start the process of developing the promised Education Accessibility Standard was to appoint an arms-length Standards Development Committee to consult the public on accessibility barriers in Ontario’s education system, and to develop recommendations on what that accessibility standard should include. We promptly pressed the Government to post an advertisement to invite members of the public to apply to serve on the Education Standards Development Committee. The Government should have been able to do this very quickly. It does not take long to write and post such an ad. The Government had been studying the issue of whether to agree to create an Education Accessibility Standard since well before the June 2014 Ontario election.
For months, we saw no action. We mounted a daily count on Twitter of how many days had ticked by since Premier Wynne’s December 5, 2016 announcement, and yet, no ad posted. It took the Government a full 171 days just to issue its May 25, 2017 invitation for members of the public to apply to serve on the Education Standards Development Committee. That announcement was set out in a May 25, 2017 email from the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario to those people and organizations on the Accessibility Directorate’s distribution email list.