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Private College Has Duty to Accommodate Students with Disabilities, Human Rights Tribunal Confirms

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March 20, 2008

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For immediate publication

Toronto - The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has issued its decision in the case of Brown v Trebas Institute Ontario Inc. The case involves a complaint filed by Delano Brown who is blind and alleged the private post-secondary career college discriminated against him in his efforts to enrol in a Music Business Administration study program.

As a result of his disability, Mr. Brown required specially outfitted computer equipment and written course materials in alternative (electronic or audio) format to enrol in the program. Although Mr. Brown passed the entrance test, was accepted into the program and paid his enrolment fee, former administrators testified that they either did not know how to pursue the matter of accommodation or did not consider it within the scope of their responsibilities, and left these issues to Mr. Brown to arrange. They also denied Mr. Brown’s request for an enrolment extension to complete arrangements for his disability-related accommodation needs and financial support.

The Tribunal found that Trebas Institute discriminated against Mr. Brown on two bases: its failure to take appropriate steps to put the accommodation Mr. Brown required into place and its denial of Mr. Brown’s request to defer enrolment to arrange for his accommodations. Trebas Institute also found to have misapprehended its legal obligation to remove barriers and take responsibility for the accommodation process.

The Tribunal ordered all of the public interest remedies sought by the Commission. Under the Order, Trebas must not apply its enrolment deferral policy in a manner that would conflict with its duty to accommodate students with disabilities. Trebas is to make all inquiries necessary to ensure that written materials for courses offered by the Institute can be made readily available in formats accessible to persons with visual disabilities. The college is also ordered to designate a position in its administrative structure with primary responsibilities for meeting the accommodation needs of students with disabilities, and to ensure the training of that person in the principles of accommodating students with disabilities receiving educational services.

Responding to the Decision, Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall of the Ontario Human Rights Commission said, “All educational facilities need to be aware of their duties under the Human Rights Code, whether they are private or public, large or small. Institutions must allow for the necessary time, and the appropriate resources and policies, to fulfill the required accommodation process for students with disabilities.”

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For more information, please refer to the OHRC’s Policy on Disability and Duty to Accommodate as well as its Guidelines On Accessible Education and other resources at: or contact:

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Afroze Edwards
Sr. Communications Officer
Communications and Issues Management
(416) 314-4528


François Larsen