For immediate publication
Toronto - Chief Commissioner Keith Norton challenged education providers today to remove barriers that prevent students with disabilities from receiving the full benefit of their education.
"Every individual in Ontario should have the same opportunity to succeed. Unfortunately, this is not happening. Many children are missing out on the chance to learn vital skills because of inadequate funding, physical inaccessibility, cumbersome and time-consuming accommodation processes, and negative attitudes and stereotypes towards students with disabilities," said Mr. Norton.
Mr. Norton’s remarks were made this morning at a news conference to announce the release of the Human Rights Commission’s Consultation Report called The Opportunity to Succeed: Achieving Barrier-free Education for Students with Disabilities. The Report closes the province-wide consultation on issues affecting students with disabilities.
The Report details the actions required to remedy the barriers faced by students with disabilities seeking accommodation of their disabilities in elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools throughout Ontario. The Commission expects the Government of Ontario, school boards, educators, school staff, colleges, universities, parents and affected students to cooperate with the Commission by recognizing their responsibilities in the accommodation process and taking action where recommended. "Until all players responsible for the accommodation of students with disabilities accept their responsibility, the goal of providing these students with the education necessary for them to reach their potential will remain elusive," added Mr. Norton.
The Consultation Report is based on the Commission’s research and feedback received during a consultation with students with disabilities, parents, school boards, colleges, universities, government ministries, educators, teachers unions, and others. Between July and December 2002, the Commission received 124 written submissions and 50 organizations and individuals made presentations to a panel chaired by Mr. Norton. Meetings took place in North Bay, Ottawa, Hamilton, and Toronto.
The Ontario Human Rights Code guarantees the right to equal treatment in education, without discrimination on the ground of disability, as part of the protection for equal treatment in services. This protection applies to public and private elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities. The consultation continues the Commission’s commitment to achieving effective resolution of pressing human rights issues.
Please visit the Ontario Human Rights Commission Web site to view the Report online.
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