The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (the act) became law in 2005. Its stated goal is the creation of an accessible Ontario by 2025, through the development, implementation and enforcement of accessibility standards that apply to the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

The accessibility standards under the act are laws that businesses and organizations with one or more employees in Ontario must follow so they can identify, remove and prevent barriers faced by persons with disabilities. These standards are part of the act's Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, O. Reg. 191/11 (the regulation). Currently, there are five accessibility standards that apply to key areas of day-to-day life for Ontarians. These are:

  • information and communications
  • employment
  • transportation
  • design of public spaces
  • customer service

The act requires an independent review every three years in order to ensure it is working as intended. Both the second and third legislative reviews of the act (conducted in 2014 and 2019 respectively) emphasized the importance of removing accessibility barriers in the area of education and urged government to consider this a priority area.

Prior to establishing the K–12 Education Standards Development Committee (the committee), a survey was developed in partnership with the Ministries of Education and Colleges and Universities. The survey was conducted to inform potential focus areas for a new education standard. The survey received a total of 2,988 responses. The survey asked respondents to comment on barriers and best practices in five key areas:

  1. accessibility awareness and training
  2. awareness of accessibility accommodations (policies, processes, programs)
  3. information, communication, and inclusive decision-making
  4. transition planning
  5. inclusive and accessible learning spaces

In 2017, two standards development committees were established to address barriers facing students: one focused on Kindergarten through Grade 12, and another focused on postsecondary education. The committees were asked to work in tandem to address barriers across the publicly funded education system in Ontario.

Mandate of the committee

The role of the Standards Development Committee for K–12 Education is to provide recommendations to government on removing and preventing accessibility barriers in the publicly funded education system. These recommendations would inform the government’s work on proposed new accessibility standards for education.

To develop these standards, members of the committee are required to:

  • define the long-range objective of the proposed standards
  • determine the measures, policies, practices and requirements to be implemented on or before January 1, 2025, and the timeframe for their implementation
  • develop proposed standards that the committee deems advisable for public comment (initial recommendation report)
  • make such changes it considers advisable to the proposed accessibility standards based on comments received and make recommendations to the Minister for Seniors and Accessibility and the Minister of Education

The minister requested that the committee:

  • develop recommendations to remove and prevent accessibility barriers in K–12 education
  • work with the postsecondary committee to consider areas of commonality, in particular, transitions (for example, K–12 to postsecondary) through a Joint Technical Sub-Committee

Committee members

The committee is composed of 20 members, who have the power to vote on recommendations to submit to the minister. There is one non-voting member who represents the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Education and Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility provide information and secretariat support to the committee as it considers its proposed recommendations. The voting members are made up of persons with disabilities or their representatives, education sector, students and community organizations (see list of member names and job titles).