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Right to Read: public inquiry into human rights issues affecting students with reading disabilities

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Reading is a fundamental skill that students must have to navigate their school experience and their later lives. Students with reading disabilities have the right to learn to read. Yet, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) is concerned that Ontario’s public education system may be failing to meet the needs of students with reading disabilities (dyslexia and other learning disabilities that affect reading).

On October 3, 2019, the OHRC announced a public inquiry into potential human rights issues that affect students with reading disabilities in Ontario’s public education system. 

About the inquiry

The Right to Read inquiry is reaching out and hearing from parents, students and educators across the province to hear about their experiences, challenges and concerns arising from their experience in Ontario’s public education system.

The inquiry is also assessing whether school boards use scientific evidence-based approaches to meet students’ right to read. The OHRC will assess school boards against five benchmarks that are part of an effective systematic approach to teaching all students to read:

  • Universal design for learning (UDL)
  • Mandatory early screening
  • Reading intervention programs
  • Effective accommodation
  • Psycho-educational assessments (if required).

The OHRC selected the following eight school boards to assess their compliance with their obligation to provide equal treatment to students with reading disabilities. These boards provide a representative sample of boards across Ontario:

  • Hamilton Wentworth District School Board
  • Keewatin-Patricia District School Board
  • Lakehead District School Board
  • London District Catholic School Board
  • Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
  • Peel District School Board
  • Simcoe-Muskoka Catholic District School Board
  • Thames Valley District School Board.

Get involved

We invite you to complete an online survey and attend one of our upcoming public hearings or community meetings.

Complete a survey

The OHRC is conducting a survey to support the Right to Read inquiry. This survey will help us to understand and report on the experiences of students with reading disabilities in Ontario public schools as part of assessing whether they have meaningful access to education as required by the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code).

This survey is for students with reading disabilities or their parents and guardians. It takes 15 to 20 minutes to complete. You do not have to complete the survey all at once. You can come back to it at any time as long as you use the same computer or smartphone.

To complete the survey click here.

If you have difficulty or need help completing this survey, contact the OHRC at 416-314-4547 or by email at

A separate survey will be available for educators and others.

Public hearings and community meetings

The OHRC is holding public hearings to allow students with reading disabilities, parents and caregivers and other stakeholders to share their stories and lived experiences.

January 14, 2020:                Brampton
January 29, 2020:                London
February 25, 2020:              Thunder Bay 
March 10, 2020:                  Ottawa

The OHRC will also hold community meetings in Hamilton, Barrie and Kenora in early 2020.

More details on the public hearings and community meetings are coming soon.

Legal authority for collecting personal information

Section 31 of the Code allows the OHRC to collect information as part of conducting a public interest inquiry. This collection is also consistent with s. 38(2) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). The OHRC recognizes the importance of protecting personal information, protecting human dignity and maintaining public trust and confidence. We will take all reasonable steps to ensure that personal information is treated confidentially and is only used for the purposes it was collected for, and to prevent unauthorized access, use or disclosure of your personal information as directed by the FIPPA. For more information see our Protection of personal information and privacy safeguards policy.

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