Action for Access in Education Initiative
Action for Access in Education Initiative
We are calling on all Ontario residents to join us in our 'Action for Access in Education Initiative' by signing this petition and writing letters to your MPP.
This initiative was inspired by the story of Michelle Cousins and her 14-year-old daughter Colette. Like many other students of varying disabilities, Colette has been left without proper access within her high school in Toronto due to the lack of a comprehensive accommodations policy. This has left Michelle parked close to the school during each school day to ensure she is available to assist Colette when needed.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission has detailed in various reports the plight that students with disabilities face within the educational setting. In 2018 they released the “Policy on Accessible Education for Students with Disabilities” outlining the various barriers that students with disabilities face in the educational setting. They also highlighted that the discrimination is not simply the result of individual behaviours but is systemic and institutional in nature.
In 2017, the province appointed the kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-12) Education Standards Development Committee, to draft recommendations for an accessibility standard in all publicly funded schools. Those recommendations were drafted in consultation with educators, organizations, and individuals within the disability community including students and their parents. Unfortunately, those recommendations have sat on the Minister of Education’s desk since the spring of 2022.
School Boards require appropriate leadership from the Ministry of Education to resolve the very operational and bureaucratic processes from which repeated and ongoing violations of children’s very basic human rights within the educational setting stem. However, protecting and preserving the human rights of children with disabilities is not something that should be left to the good will of persons within positions of authority, with reassurances that they will ‘get around to it’.
Hence, we ask that you join us in appealing to the Minister of Education to take immediate action in the review and implementation of these recommendations.
We ask that you join us in:
1) signing this petition and
2) writing your own letter calling on your local Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) to appeal to the Minister of Education to take immediate action in the review and implementation of these recommendations.
This is not about partisan politics. There are no party lines to be drawn here. These recommendations contain within it a means to safeguard the basic human rights of children — the very rights that are already enshrined in law. It is about being a decent human being and doing the right thing.
In the words of Mahatma Ghandi, “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”
Many thanks from Michelle Cousins, Colette, and all of us at Chapters4Change for your support!
To hear more from Michelle and Colette, please tune in to Chapters4Change Podcast (Episode 1: Access in Education) which will see its launch date on December 3, 2022 (International Day of Persons with Disabilities). Together they share some of the access challenges and barriers faced within the educational setting, including a fire evacuation plan which, ironically, does not include Colette being evacuated from the school. To access the podcast, please visit:
For a list of current Ontario MPPs, including contact information, please visit:
For contact information for the Ontario Minster of Education, please visit:
For more information about this initiative, including examples downloadable letters for both allies and parents to utilize when creating their own letters to their MPPs, please visit:
For information on the kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-12) Education Standards Development Committee’s drafted recommendations for an accessibility standard in all publicly funded schools, please visit:
For information on the ‘Policy on Accessible Education for Students with Disabilities’, please visit: