That by 2025, the publicly funded K-12 education system will be fully accessible, equitable, inclusive and learner-centred:

  1. by removing and preventing accessibility barriers impeding students with disabilities from fully participating in, and fully benefitting from all aspects of the education system.
  2. by providing a prompt, accessible, fair, effective and user-friendly process to learn about and seek programs, services, supports, accommodations and placements tailored to the individual strengths and needs of each student with disabilities.

An Ontario public education system K-12 characterized by equity, accessibility and inclusion, and participation:

We envision an Ontario public education system K-12 where learning environments are barrier free and fully inclusive of learners with disabilities. All learners with disabilities will have full access to meaningful education and relevant learning experiences that include appropriate instructional supports.

Guiding principles statements

The guiding principles emphasize: dignity, respect, belonging, self-determination, equality of opportunity, independence, access and inclusion, student and family-centred engagement and participation, and non-discriminatory practices and are informed by the Ontario Human Rights Code, The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 Alliance October 10, 2019 Proposed Framework for the K-12 Education Accessibility Standards, Ontario Ministry of Education guidelines and frameworks (for example, Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy, Learning for All) the committee work to date, and other relevant documents.

It is important to address “ableism” when aspiring to remove barriers for students with disabilities. Ableism is a belief system that continues to widely influence perceptions of learners with disabilities. This belief system sees persons with disabilities as being less worthy of respect and consideration, less able to contribute and participate, or of less inherent value than others.

  1. Students with disabilities have the right to dignity, respect, equality, choice, voice and full participation in a barrier-free public education system K-12, regardless of race, religious belief, colour, gender, gender identity, gender expression, physical disability, mental disability, family status or sexual orientation or any other factor(s).
  2. Students, parents/caregivers, educators, administrators, trustees and community members are valued and partners in creating and maintaining inclusive and equitable school communities, working together to identify and eliminate discriminatory practices, systemic barriers and biases from school systems to allow full access to a high-quality education and full participation for students with disabilities.
  3. Schools are places where diverse voices, talents and skills are recognized, where equity, equality, inclusion and human rights are well understood and applied, positively impacting educational outcomes for students with disabilities. Classroom, school and system practices are reflective of and responsive to the diversity of students with disabilities.
  4. Changing attitudes, beliefs and practices are facilitated through accessible education and training related to equity, equality, inclusion and human rights. Principles of equity, equality and inclusive education should be embedded throughout all training, programs, practices and policies.
  5. Inter-ministerial collaboration, planning and accountability is essential to providing supports and services to students with very high or complex needs who are marginalized or fully excluded from meaningful participation in their schools and communities.
  6. Cultures of high expectations are created for all learners through an accessible and culturally responsive curriculum, appropriate instructional supports, and meaningful and relevant learning experiences. Systems and practices for assessment of quality learning are in place that better respond to students’ diversity and needs related to disability.
  7. Universal design for learning should be to support the development of universally accessible curriculum instruction, and assessment methods, learning activities in classrooms, experiential experiences, online learning environments, physical spaces and multiple pathways to achieving growth and success as a learner.
  8. There is intentional collection, analysis and use of relevant data to fully understand learners’ strengths and needs, to identify and remove barriers, to support effective interventions, and to design accessible quality education for all.
  9. Families have access to information in readily accessible, multiple formats in different places, including ministry and school board websites, and flexible opportunities and mechanisms for full participation in decision-making processes.
  10. Effective transition planning in schools is informed through collaborative relationships with families living with disabilities and cross-sector collaboration with community partners for integrated transition planning.
  11. Research-informed, evidence-based programs, pedagogies and policies facilitate a culture of respect for equity, equality, access and inclusion in all schools, and ensure evidence of impact across the education system for students with disabilities. Research-informed, evidence-based professional learning designs on accessible education within a human rights framework are created and delivered within and school boards by transdisciplinary teams of professionals including persons with disabilities.
  12. Laws, policies and programs in the education system should fully and effectively serve students with all disabilities within the meaning of the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and/or the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 and that the needs of students with low-incidence disability not be marginalized, sidelined or de-prioritized.

Personal sentiments from the committee

It's a new day for students with disabilities in Ontario. I am so proud of this report and the recommendations contained in it. This report is a product of three years of hard work and a multitude of dedicated people coming together and working across political and ideological differences for the betterment of students and our education system. The recommendations contained in the report are proven to work, achievable and will make a real difference for students with disabilities and their family. There is no longer any excuse for any student to get left behind in Ontario. Indeed, our education system in Ontario is one of the crown jewels of publicly funded education anywhere in the world and it's our job now to put these recommendations to action to ensure we support every child and reach every student.

Ben Smith

This committee and the process of writing the report has exemplified the importance of having student voice and lived experience centred and included at all levels of decision-making. Improving educational accessibility in Ontario is impossible without the continued contributions of young people’s lived experience as expertise in creating innovative ways forward towards an accessible and anti-ableist educational future for everyone.

Rana Nasrazadani