As noted above, the OHRC held extensive consultations on disability and the duty to accommodate in 1999. The result was a comprehensive Policy and Guidelines on Disability and the Duty to Accommodate, released in March 2001. This document sets out the OHRC’s key policy positions in this area, including:
- a definition of disability that recognizes the impact of social handicapping;
- an emphasis on the right of persons with disabilities to integration and full participation;
- recognition of the central importance of design by inclusion, and barrier removal for persons with disabilities;
- reaffirmation of the importance of respect for the dignity of persons with disabilities;
- recognition that persons with disabilities are individuals first, and should be considered, assessed, and accommodated on an individual basis;
- the principle that accommodation is a responsibility shared by all parties to the process; and
- a reaffirmation of the high standard of undue hardship set by the OHRC in 1989.
These principles, and the whole of the Policy and Guidelines on Disability and the Duty to Accommodate, form the basis of the OHRC’s approach to issues of disability and the duty to accommodate. It is not the intent of this consultation to re-evaluate or reconsider these principles. Rather, recognizing the special nature of educational services, and the complexity of the issues in this area, it is the aim of the OHRC to produce a public Consultation Report as well as specific guidelines to clarify the application of its policies and principles in the education sector.
Issues have been raised with respect to all aspects of education and disability – in both public and private institutions, and at the primary, secondary, and post-secondary levels. Submissions are therefore invited on human rights aspects of all types of educational services.
Education is a complex field, governed by numerous statutes and regulations, regulated by several government ministries, and involving a myriad of players. The OHRC’s mandate is with respect to the human rights aspects of educational services, and what can properly be considered “discrimination” within the meaning of human rights law and policy. This is the focus of these consultations. Not all aspects of education, or even of special education, fall within this mandate.
This paper outlines background information, and identifies a number of issues relating to human rights, disability, and education that have been brought to the OHRC’s attention, for the purpose of providing a framework for submissions on these topics. However, this list is not exhaustive and there may be further issues that fall within the OHRC’s mandate. The OHRC welcomes submissions identifying such issues.