The Ontario Human Rights Commission today released Education and Disability: Human Rights Issues in Ontario’s Education System, and announced plans for a public consultation on disability issues in Ontario’s education system this fall.
The Commission previously conducted an extensive consultation on disability issues in 1999, as part of the development of its Policy and Guidelines on Disability and the Duty to Accommodate. The Policy and Guidelines give the Commission’s policy position on disability and the duty to accommodate.
There are a number of reasons for the Commission to conduct a consultation on disability issues in Ontario’s education system at this time:
- A number of submissions to the 1999 consultation on disability and the duty to accommodate raised important issues about the treatment of persons with disabilities in the education system.
- During those consultations, the Commission announced its intention to initiate a consultation on disability issues in education. The Commission is now in a position to conduct such a consultation.
- In recent years, the Commission has received a number of complaints related to discrimination because of disability in the area of education that raise issues of systemic discrimination.
- Parents, educators, disability consumer groups, and advocacy organizations have contacted the Commission on an informal basis to express concerns and identify issues about the treatment of students with disabilities.
Recognizing the special nature of educational services, and the complexity of the issues in this area, it is the aim of the Commission to produce a public Consultation Report and Guidelines to clarify the application of the Ontario Human Rights Code and Commission policies to educational services.
The consultation will concentrate on human rights issues facing persons with disabilities in the education sector. These issues are outlined in the consultation Paper, Education and Disability: Human Rights Issues in Ontario’s Education System, and include:
- Access to education for persons with disabilities,
- Discrimination against persons with disabilities on multiple prohibited grounds,
- Attitudinal barriers and stereotypes,
- Appropriate accommodation for persons with disabilities,
- Roles and responsibilities for accommodating students with disabilities, and
- The undue hardship standard in an educational setting.
The Commission is initiating the consultation pursuant to section 29 of the Human Rights Code, which gives it a broad mandate to deal with issues of discrimination. The consultation will focus on both public and private institutions, at the primary, secondary and post-secondary levels.
Any interested individual or organization may make written submissions by October 7, 2002 on some or all of the issues identified in the Consultation Paper or on other human rights issues related to disability and education. Those who are interested in making a presentation at the public consultation sessions must submit written comments by the October 7, 2002 deadline. Details of the public consultation sessions will be posted on the Commission’s Web site in the near future.