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Letter to education providers re: recommendations to improve educational outcomes for students with disabilities

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August 24, 2018

Re: Recommendations to improve educational outcomes for students with disabilities

I hope this finds you well. I am writing today to provide you with a confidential copy of the executive summary and recommendations for the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC) Policy on accessible education for students with disabilities. The new policy reflects case law developments, international human rights standards and evolving social science research, and also includes recommendations to key actors in the sector. (The new policy will be publicly released within the next two weeks at www.ohrc.on.ca and in alternative formats upon request.)

The new policy sets out how education providers can comply with their responsibilities under the Human Rights Code, including preventing and addressing discrimination and harassment and taking all required steps to accommodate students with disabilities to the point of undue hardship. It will also be a useful tool for students who believe they have experienced discrimination or harassment based on disability, as well as their families.

As our policy highlights, despite a highly regulated and complex education framework designed to address “special needs,” students with disabilities continue to face obstacles in terms of accessing educational services in Ontario. Appendix A includes specific recommendations to government and education providers to remove these barriers and make education accessible for students with disabilities. For ease of reference, these recommendations are set out below.

As an organization that provides education services and is bound by the Code, we encourage you to review our recommendations, make a public commitment to implement them, and take immediate steps to ensure that students with disabilities are able to access education with dignity and without impediment. We would welcome your public support in this regard.

Please be advised that in keeping with the OHRC’s commitment to public accountability, this correspondence may be made public. If you have any questions or wish to discuss this issue further, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Sincerely,

Renu Mandhane B.A., J.D., LL.M.
Chief Commissioner
Office of the Chief Commissioner
Ontario Human Rights Commission
180 Dundas Street West, Suite 900,
Toronto, ON   
M7A 2G5