Accessibility Advisory Committee

The Accessibility Advisory Committee for YRDSB has been established under the direction of the HRCO to meet and exceed the AODA standards and requirements. Accessibility at YRDSB is guided the through shared responsibilities and collaborative commitments of the Accessibility Advisory Committee.

The Accessibility Advisory Committee meets four times each school year with the purpose of carrying out the Board's commitment to providing accessible learning and working environments.

Responsibilities and Opportunities

  • To champion accessibility at YRDSB in effort to strengthen a culture of inclusion for people with and without disabilities;

  • To provide ethical leadership and guidance on all matters related to the implementation of Accessibility Policy #407 and its related procedures;

  • To identify, remove and prevent barriers in the service, working and learning environments of the Board;

  • To promote opportunities for collaboration and professional development among members of the Accessibility Advisory Committee with regard to ongoing accessibility concerns, planning and implementation;

  • To provide accessibility recommendations and training to the Board’s senior leadership team and the various Board constituencies with the goal of promoting systemic change; and

  • To communicate the accessibility plans and achievements of the Board through the Multi-Year Accessibility Plan and Annual Accessibility Reports.

Accessibility Advisory Committee Meetings (Minutes)​

2022-2023 School Year

Thursday, September 29, 2022, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM via MS Teams.

Minutes pending approval.

2021-2022 School Year

Thursday, May 5, 2021, 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM via Zoom.

20 members in attendance, 1 guest.

1. Welcome and HRCO update

Committee members notified that HRCO is currently short-staffed due to departure of Human Rights Commissioner as well as Human Rights Officer (Investigations) vacancy. Recruitment of new Human Rights Officer in process.

2. Land Acknowledgement and Reflection

Brief discussion based on two guiding questions: “what is a Land Acknowledgment?” and “what is the significance of why we say it?” Concept of “Two” Land Acknowledgements presented: 1) as recitation and 2) as a reflection. Land Acknowledgement Checklist shared with committee, who were asked to self-reflect on a 1-2 checklist items.

3. Approval of Previous Minutes

Minutes reviewed and motion carried to approve February 24, 2022 minutes. Approved by CR; seconded by DB. Minutes have been posted online and made available to the public under AODA Advisory Committee web page.

4. Professional Learning: Exploring the Proposed K-12 Education Standards - 2022 Final Recommendations Report

Brief update and overview of the 2022 Final Recommendation Report 
(published March 1, 2022). Public consultations and feedback were substantial, all positive, and resulted in changes and additions to final recommendations. K-12 SDC Chair has since met with both Minister for Seniors and Accessibility and Minister of Education to present and discuss the final report. Government is currently reviewing the final report.

Professional learning to engage committee in a preliminary review of the final report and recommendations, beginning with a focus on TVI-related recommendations 10-14.

4a. Guest Speaker: Coordinator of BLV Services

Coordinator of Blind and Low Vision (BLV) Services discussed experience and training as a Mobility and Orientation (O&M) Specialist, working in BLV services and how barriers identified in recommendations 10 to 14 relate to YRDSB working and learning environments.

BLV Services has a team of highly specialized staff including Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments (TSVIs), Braillists, and Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Specialists. Agreed on the need to increase qualifications and training for these positions due to specialization requirements. Noted some concerns with current qualifications (e.g., AQ courses), but recognized lack of training programs in Ontario. Out-of-province/country programs are cost-prohibitive, but fully funding such programs can have strengths and weaknesses.

Comment about recommendation 11 that requiring a qualified TSVI “to successfully complete a one-year graduate program” can pose as a barrier to entry from union/hiring perspective.

Action Item: K-12 SDC Chair recommended reaching out directly to Assistant Deputy Minister to provide YRDSB-specific feedback about what is working well and/or needs improvement regarding these recommendations.

4b. Exploring the K-12 Education Standards Committee - 2022 Final Recommendations Report

Committee members engaged in breakout room discussions about select recommendations from Final Report, using guiding questions as needed: 

  • What supports or resources would be needed to implement a given recommendation?
  • What are the current barriers to implementing a given recommendation?
  • Whose responsibility is it to implement a given recommendation?

Each group recorded comments or questions about recommendations, and were asked to determine a “feasibility rating” for how feasible it would be, at this time, to implement each recommendation within the given timeline.

Action Item: Accessibility Officer to follow-up with subcommittees and working groups, as needed, to continue discussing proactive implementation of relevant recommendations.

5. Subcommittee / Working Group Updates

Student Services Subcommittee Update

  • K-12 final recommendations report - appreciation for K-12 standards exploration on TSVI and O&M qualifications review and considerations; Student Services is actively reviewing the final recommendations.

  • Right to Read inquiry report - being reviewed by Student Services in collaboration with Curriculum and Instructional Services to implement recommendations; report lacks how early vision and hearing loss impacts language and reading for BLV and DHH students.

  • Professional learning - Surrey Place have offered to assist with professional learning in the areas of literacy and language for students with Binocular Dysfunction and Cortical Vision Impairments; developing workshops for Special Education Resource Teachers and Consultants as well as for parents/guardians.

6. Accessibility News Items

A. Annual Accessibility Report 2021-2022

Annual Accessibility Report work, including contributions and input requests to subcommittee and working group, to begin in late summer/early fall 2022. Shared review of annual report to take place at September 2022 meeting. 

B. Accessible transitions final recommendations 2022

Two related final recommendations reports were published on April 22, 2022:

  • Accessible transitions for students with disabilities in K-12: to the workforce, the community and postsecondary education

  • Proposed postsecondary education standards

C. York Region Inclusive Language Guide

York Region launched Inclusive Language Guide on April 20, 2022. Developed as one of many actions resulting from the Inclusion Charter for York Region in consultation with the Municipal Diversity and Inclusion Group (MDIG).

Action Item: Accessibility Officer to share feedback about YRDSB Inclusive Language Guide at upcoming MDIG meeting. 

Action Item 2: Committee members asked to complete short feedback form to support planning and delivery of future meetings.

7. Upcoming Meeting Dates and Adjournment

Tentative 2022 meetings for next school year: September 29, 2022

Thank you for ongoing commitment of committee members to advancing accessibility at YRDSB. Always feel free to reach out with any accessibility questions or concerns.

Meeting adjourned.

AODA Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes - May 5, 2022 (PDF version)

Thursday, February 24, 2022, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM via Zoom.

22 members in attendance.

1. Land Acknowledgement and Learning

Action Item: Committee members asked to reflect on our thoughts, words, actions and how they contribute towards strengthening our relationship with Indigenous peoples.

2. Approval of Previous Minutes

Minutes reviewed and motion carried to approve November 25, 2021 minutes. Approved by CR; seconded by DB.

3. Professional Learning: The Power of Inclusive Language

15-minute video clip from of panel discussion about the Power of Inclusive Language was shared with committee members. Panel discussion was hosted by Rick Hansen Foundation on December 3, 2021 for International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Committee members were placed into breakout rooms to review examples phrases to avoid and to discuss questions asked in the panel discussion:

  • Is there a time you experienced inclusive language and what impact did it have on you?
  • How can we be an advocate in our workplaces for inclusive language?

Committee debriefed about inclusive language considerations and implications as a large group in the main.

4. Subcommittee / Working Group Updates

Barrier Buster and Built Environment Subcommittee Update

  • Braille signage and portables update - Plant Services will now consider including portables as we install braille signage; will be a complicated process and require planning as portables move around and the numbers that school uses will change from site to site.

Student Services Subcommittee Update

Blind / Low Vision Services
  • New Central Braillist - has assumed centralized leadership position and is bringing innovation and new tools to schools braillists. Old braille books in old code were purged and team engaged in new strategies using combination of hard copy and electronic braille resources.

  • MacBook pilot project – has been strongly supported by subject matter experts involved in exploring and trialing benefits of iOS accessibility features for learners with low vision. BLV will move forward with limited orders students who benefit from its functionality and applications. Braille users will continue to use the PC Windows laptops.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services
  • Pedant mic trial - small and discrete black pendant worn by educator and connected to student hearing aid receivers. Recommended by student who had concerns about social stigma of teachers wearing larger, more noticeable, touchscreen mics.

  • Video relay system – Digital Literacy Resource Teachers and Assistive Technology Consultants are exploring video relay system applications on SE devices for profoundly deaf students to support life skill programs, health care consultations, self-advocacy and more.

  • Clear masks – now being used across Board for visual accessibility and lip reading; being used by DHH Specialist Teachers, Speech-Language Therapists and Communication Disorder Assistants.

  • Voice-to-text communication apps - supportive applications to augment communication in masked environments being trialed in Work Experience student placements.

Special Equipment Amount (SEA)
  • SEA laptops for OSSLT – preplanning and testing of platform with ITS and Student Services was completed, and SEA laptops worked well with few technical issues.

  • SEA laptop refresh – Student Services proceeding with replacing 2,218 SEA laptops.

  • Family Guide to SEA – begin updated with inclusive language, less jargon and QR code to web-based alternative

  • Plain language checklist – being developed and trialed for IEP writing.

5. Accessibility News Items

A. K-12 Education Standards Development Committee Update

Final recommendations report is almost complete. Over 100 recommendations have been added to initial recommendations. Finalizing report is a meticulous process and required writer to ensure consistent style throughout.

Once final recommendations report is then submitted to the Ministry, they will review and ideally make recommendations to Cabinet for new regulation.

Action Item: Accessibility Officer to circulate report with committee members once published and made available to the public.

B. Barrier Buster Reporting Form and Survey Request

System memo circulated via News Digest on February 17, 2022 to prompt awareness about Barrier Buster process and request staff to complete Barrier Buster Awareness Survey to assist HRCO in improving communication to all YRDSB stakeholders.

Action Item: Committee members asked to complete Barrier Buster Awareness Survey and share with respective teams and departments.

C. Inclusion Canada #ThisisAbleism Campaign

Inclusion Canada launched a This is Ableism campaign on February 8, 2022. They asked people with disabilities and their families about ableism and its impact on their lives. Website includes social media posts, comic strips and other resources including linked video series created by UN Human Rights Office.

“What is ableism?” video shared with committee as conclusion and take-away reflection to meeting.

6. Upcoming Meeting Dates and Adjournment

  • Next meeting scheduled for Thursday, May 5, 2022.

Meeting adjourned.

AODA Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes - Feb. 24, 2022 (PDF version)

Thursday, November 25, 2021, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM via Zoom.

20 members in attendance.

1. Land Acknowledgement and Learning

Committee members asked to listen to part 3 of As Long As The River Flows: Treaty Talks podcast prior to meeting. A five-minute clip (27:43-32:37) from the podcast was played regarding the Hiawatha (wampum) belt.

Committee engaged in collaborative learning session to explore and share learning about five original nations of the Haudenosaunee: Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida and Mohawk nations.

Action Item: Committee members encouraged to explore other nations of today’s Six Nations of the Grand River.

2. Approval of Previous Minutes

Minutes reviewed and motion carried to approve September 30, 2021 minutes. Minutes have been posted online and available to the public under AODA Advisory Committee web page.

Action Item: Final request to review Terms of Reference 2021-2022 and provide feedback.

3. Professional Learning: The Cost of Accessibility Renovations and Retrofits

DP and SH led professional learning through “quiz style” Zoom poll questions and debrief about the cost of common accessibility work required to make school built environments more accessible.

  • Question 1: Approximately how much does it cost to replace an elementary school’s fire alarm system with the horn/strobe visual fire alarm systems? Answer: $150,000
  • Question 2: What is the approximate cost to install an automatic door opener? Answer: $6,000
  • Question 3: How much does it cost (on the low end) to upgrade elevators in a school? Answer: $70,000
  • Question 4: What is approximate cost to adding braille signage throughout a school? Answer: $10,000

4. Annual Accessibility Report 2020-2021 Review +
Subcommittee / Working Group Updates

Annual Accessibility Report 2020-2021 was presented to and approved by Board of Trustees at November 23, 2021 Board Standing Committee meeting. Report was presented and reviewed collectively by representative(s) from each subcommittee, followed by their respective status updates and new developments on accessibility work for the current school year.

Annual Accessibility Report 2020-2021 is now posted online and available to the public.

Barrier Buster and Built Environment Subcommittee Update

  • Braille Signage Project - Wilshire PS and Maple HS are almost complete; and priority schools for 2023 have been identified by Student Services (refer to annual report for complete list). Plant Services waiting for more information about other schools (e.g., Beckett Farms PS), and continue to respond to needs as they arise.

Action Item: Plant Services to follow-up regarding whether portable were/are included as part of Braille signage installation process.

  • All Access Washroom Project ­- Plant Services now working on Category 4 schools that require major renovations to install all access washrooms. All access washrooms have been installed across all Category 1 to 3 schools, which have one all access (or all gender) washroom per floor. How all access washrooms are accessed (unlocked or by card reader) differs by school and how principal identifies issues/needs.

Curriculum Working Group Update

  • Considerations for Development Online Content Guidelines - resource outlining considerations for developing online content was created by Learning Design and Development (LD&D) and shared internally with educators to support EVS and SVS during the previous school year. Guideline also include equity and inclusivity, as well as copyright considerations.

Human Resources Subcommittee Update

  • Disability Management (DM) files - notable increase in number of staff DM files compared to last school year, with DM team approving 1,282 employees with virtual work placement accommodations. New assistive devices have been put through as majority of DM files have been pandemic-related.

    • Note: DM accommodates employees by reviewing cognitive limitations, as outlined in functional ability report completed by treating specialist. DM not entitled to a diagnosis, just functional and/or cognitive limitations, which are used to accommodate employee.

  • Grief training - DM team to engage in grief training with community organization; valuable learning because DM team will all interact with employees who have gone through some form of grief.

  • OSSTF update- ongoing pandemic-related challenge for members has been request for virtual accommodations and access to sick leave; OSSTF trying to provide support where possible. Accommodation requests for use of N95 masks has been another key issues for members.

Student Services Subcommittee Update

  • New clear masks - trialed by Education Audiologist and overall better than previous clear masks, but still fog and create condensation within the mask, so does require mask breaks and cleaning; some batches have come in, and are being prioritized for distribution.

  • DeafBlind learners - some medically fragile learners who are DeafBlind have returned to their multiple exceptionality classes for first time in 18 months. Other DeafBlind students are still learning through a modified hybrid model; two DeafBlind Interveners go into homes weekly to provide modelling and support on tactile materials required for programming.

  • BLV learners- enrollment is decreasing as BLV students are leaving for provincial schools (W Ross. MacDonald School for the Blind) due to pandemic and issues with accessing remote learning in a meaningful way. However, W Ross consultants have been approved to provide in-school assessments for BLV students on waitlists.

  • DHH learners - new program at Alexander Mackenzie High School supporting communication/access needs for new grade 9 DHH students. Four profoundly deaf learners are engaged in more credit bearing courses and interval assessments with consultants from EC Drury School for the Deaf. Consultants also providing direct instruction in ASL acquisition with profoundly deaf learners through weekly virtual sessions. Board DHH teachers are not qualified in ASL instruction and Sign language Interpreters only provide ASL interpretation.

  • SEA claims - group purchase of 700 Boardmaker licences have been distributed and well-received across the Board. Refresh of hardware for SEA claims, including laptops still outstanding for refresh.

  • Accessible slide decks - Student Services participating in detailed process for vetting slide decks to ensure AODA compliance; working with schools on importance of accessibility for online hybrid teaching.

Digital Media, Learning and Website Management Working Group Update

  • Accessible document training - shifted to virtual training last school year through Google Meet; and will now be hosted via Microsoft Teams this year with monthly training sessions offered to students as well.

  • Accessibility compliance training - approximately 22,400 active YRDSB staff in the system, which is basis for running completion numbers for each module:

    • 71% completion rate for Accessibility Standards for Customer Service module,
    • 75% completion rate for Accessibility and Human Rights: Working Together module, and
    • 57% completion rate for Accessibility Awareness for Educators module (notably lower because only educators are required to complete).
    • Accessibility Awareness for Educators was updated this past summer to reflect current accessibility best practices and resources available to educators; and other two accessibility training modules are due for update in 2022.

  • Beyond compliance - no longer focused on pushing towards 100% completion rate given that legislated training are only one-time requirements. Rather, focus has shifted towards accessibility acceptance, understanding and buy-in through more individualized learning sessions run for and by different departments (e.g., Student Services, LD&D, EAS, etc) specific to their area of work. Accessibility training is now a balancing act between compliance training and “beyond compliance” learning.

  • New website launch - new YRDSB website is not “fully accessible” but does exceed accessibility of most other websites (e.g., keyboard navigation is above and beyond AODA). All content has been migrated over from old website and reviewed for AODA compliance and plain text language. Accessible content considerations are now included within content contributor training, and certain accessibility features (font type, size, spacing, etc.) are locked in through scripting to automatically meet AODA standards.

  • PDF challenges - PDF documents need to be meta-tagged properly to be searchable on websites. Corporate Communications is actively working with content contributors to convert PDF into HTML web page content, which is more searchable and accessible on the website.

Action Item: Per suggestion, communication that goes through letterhead/emails to parents and students should have more plain language, including more videos and interactive engagement than just traditional newsletter communications.

5. Accessibility News Items and Member Q & A

A. K-12 Education Standards Development Committee Update

  • Review of public feedback shows a very encouraging and strong consensus in support of the Initial Report.
  • Responses highlighted need to embody human rights-based approach to advancing accessibility, inclusion and full participation.
  • Feedback also highlighted intersectionality and interdependence of identified barriers to advancing anti-oppressive, anti-ableist and anti-discriminatory attitudes and practices.
  • Next step is to approve final submission in December, which is then submitted to the Ministry for review and recommendation to Cabinet for a new regulation.

B. Unconscious Bias Online Design Team

  • In process of developing baseline unconscious bias online training through inter-departmental collaboration.
  • Upcoming working sessions to discuss methodologies and approaches to designing online learning to maximize engagement

C. Plain Language Guide to Board Policies

  • Accessibility and Human Rights policies have accompanying plain language guides.
  • Hope that they will serve as a standard for all other areas of the Board to foster more accessible Board policies.

6. Upcoming Meeting Dates and Adjournment

  • Next meeting scheduled for Thursday, February 24, 2022.

Meeting adjourned.

AODA Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes - Nov. 25, 2021 (PDF version)

Thursday, September 30, 2021, 10:00 AM – 12:00 p.m. via Zoom.

22 members in attendance.

1. Virtual Ceremony - Day For Remembering Children

AODA Advisory Committee members were encouraged to attend the YRDSB virtual ceremony titled: “Binoojiinyag Mikwendaamowin Giizhigad - Day For Remembering Children ᐊᐱᓄᒋᐣᐦᔭᐠ ᒥᑵᐣᑕᒧᐏᐣ ᑭᔑᑲᐟ ” hosted by the Indigenous Education Team in association with Indigenous communities from 9:30 – 10:45 a.m.

Action Item: Committee members to attend National Truth and Reconciliation Day virtual ceremony via Google Live Stream.

2. Approval of Previous Minutes

Minutes reviewed and motion carried to approve April 29, 2021 minutes. Minutes have been posted online and available to the public under AODA Advisory Committee web page.

3. Review of Terms of Reference

Member Responsibilities

  • To champion accessibility at YRDSB in effort to strengthen a culture of inclusion for people with and without disabilities;
  • To provide ethical leadership and guidance on all matters related to the implementation of Accessibility Policy #407 and its related procedures as aligned with the AODA;
  • To identify, remove and prevent barriers in the service, working and learning environments of the Board;
  • To promote opportunities for collaboration and professional development among members with regard to ongoing accessibility concerns, planning and implementation;
  • To communicate the accessibility plans and achievements of the Board through the Multi-Year Accessibility Plan and Annual Accessibility Reports.

Member Expectations

  • Four meetings will be held each school year (September to June); 
  • Member in good standing requires regular attendance at AODA Advisory Committee meetings;
  • Member who cannot attend a meeting must inform a co-chair and select a designate to attend on their behalf; and
  • Member who is absent for three consecutive meetings will be contacted to discuss and determine future membership on the AODA Advisory Committee.

All members are encouraged and expected to:

  • Actively engage in committee meetings and participate in the activities and work of AODA Advisory Committee;
  • Review and/or approve documents and materials shared prior to each meeting;
  • Participate in specialized subcommittees and working groups where it aligns with their area of work and subject matter expertise;
  • Provide input on the Annual Accessibility Reports through
    regular status reporting; and
  • Act as an accessibility champion for YRDSB.

Action Item: Committee members asked to review the entire Terms of Reference 2021-2022.

4. New member Introduction

Brief self-introductions by new AODA Advisory Committee members representing the following departments/units for the 2021-2022 school year:

  • Trustee Services
  • Leadership Development and Engagement
  • Student Services
  • Inclusive Schools and Community Services

5. Accessibility News Items and Member Q & A

Feedback Report on the Proposed K-12 Education Standards

Brandon provided summary presentation of the YRDSB Feedback Report on the Proposed K-12 Education Standards submitted to the Education Standards Development Committee on September 22, 2021.

Presentation included overview of the internal YRDSB review and feedback process led by the HRCO, followed by summary of key feedback themes for each barrier area. How the Board is currently complying with various initial recommendations (e.g., updated and expanded Multi-Year Accessibility Plan, Accessibility Resource Hub, and accessible web conferencing) was also presented.

Action Item: Committee members are asked to review the proposed K-12 Education standards and send feedback directly to the Education Standards Development Committee by extended deadline of November 1, 2021.

Student Services Subcommittee Update

Alternative mask with clear windows update – new alternative masks to be introduced with a combination of medical mask and clear window for lip-reading; new medical/clear masks will be received by schools in 4-6 weeks; in interim, has created communication barriers for students and staff who require lip reading as part of a total communication context.

Additional updates from Student Services subcommittee were shared in writing:

Blind/Low Vision Services - Most of our students are back in schools for side-by-side/hand over hand supports

  • Early elementary students who require braille are back to learning braille literacy skills and meaningful tactile learning.

  • Deafblind Intervenors are supporting students at school or online with the hybrid model.

  • Using the Community and Home Guidelines, Deafblind Intervenors are making home visits with tactile materials and programming that compliment and extend the learning within hybrid model.

  • Central Braillist has retired and we are revising the role and responsibilities of our Central Braillist position to include a greater focus on electronic/ refreshable braille keyboards and tablets.

Deaf/Hard of Hearing - Students with hearing loss or who are profoundly deaf are largely back in schools for greater auditory access

  • DHH Pilot Transition Program launched for a cohort of grade nine students who are receiving the secondary programming largely in ASL.  This program is also being supported by Deaf Culture Consultants from EC Drury in order for an accessible and culturally rich program provided in an integrated setting instead of having to commute to our provincial school.

  • Interdepartmental collaboration - Educational Audiologist has been working with ITS and Disability Management to provide strategies and support for our students in class, student online and staff who are still experiencing communication barriers due to masking and virtual learning.

  • New virtual web-based application/site - created by the deaf community for accessibility supports for people with hearing loss; recently introduced to communicated to Student Services and includes the capability for: notetaking, translation, captioning, and speech generation for non-verbal people.

7. Upcoming Meeting Dates and Adjournment

  • Next meeting scheduled for Thursday, November 25, 2021.

Meeting adjourned.

AODA Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes - Sept. 30, 2021 (PDF version)

2020-2021 School Year

Thursday, April 29, 2021, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM via Zoom.

23 members and 2 guests in attendance.

1. Primer / Reflection Exercise

Brandon opened meeting with visual introduction and by sharing a quote (“Diversity is what you have. Inclusion is what you do with it.”), followed by a contrasting audio clip on the “matter of so-called ‘inclusion’”. Audio/video clip by Sara Hendren is available online to committee members with open captions and ASL interpretations.

Action Item: Committee members asked to reflect on the quote and audio/video clip, and consider to what extent they agree or disagree.

2. New member Introduction

Lynn Ziraldo welcomed and introduced as new AODA Advisory Committee. Lynn provided a brief introduction and overview on work of Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC). More information and members list are available on SEAC website. Lynn also emphasized the importance of person-first language.

3. Land Acknowledgement

Anthony shared land acknowledgement by first reading the Board’s standardized land acknowledgement, and then spoke to significance of the statement. Land acknowledgements gives context and history which is constantly changing and being revised.

Territorial acknowledgements have existed thousands of years for Indigenous cultures. As they becomes more prevalent today, it shows people are willing to give voice to Indigenous people and recognize their political, legal, social and cultural space in the place we now call Canada.

For non-indigenous communities, land acknowledgements are the beginning of our learning process. They are an act of reconciliation and crucial first step to re-establishing our relationship to the land.

4. Approval of Previous Minutes

Minutes reviewed and motion carried to approve February 25, 2021 minutes. Minutes have been posted online and available to the public under AODA Advisory Committee web page.

5. Professional Learning - The Experience of a YRDSB Staff Member

Guest speaker: YRDSB Administrator

Has been an administrator for about 20 years and had previously connected with the HRCO regarding concerns about “equity” at YRDSB.

Hopes that by sharing their experiences, it helps people to better understand the legacies within institutions that continue to oppress and marginalize certain groups. People who are deaf and hard of hearing travel similar paths to others in the disability community as well as other oppressed groups.

Action Items:

  • Hopes narrative can be an avenue for others to discuss their experiences and express themselves without fear of discipline. She also calls on the Board to do better in accommodating employees with disabilities.
  • HRCO to bring forward online accessibility to Executive Council to ensure the most accessible video conferencing tools are being used at a system level; and that any Board staff hosting a video conference is aware of the various accessibility features.
  • Committee members are asked to review and share the Accessible Video Conferencing Guidelines with their respective departments and groups.

6. Staff Mental Health and Well-Being Presentation

Guest Speaker: Interim Wellness Advisor

Megan provided an overview of the Employee and Family Wellness Assistance Program (EFAP) and its related resources and workshops online. Megan also shared various mental health and wellness resources available through the Staff Well-Being Sharepoint web page and the BWW. Mental Health Week also takes place from May 3 to 9, 2021.

Action Items:

  • Wellness Advisor asks us for recommendations to better promote these resources with staff.
  • Brandon further asks for Committee members to distribute this presentation with their respective staff and/or departments, and spend time during an upcoming team meeting to go through resources as a team.
  • Wellness Advisor to also share employee resource related to coping with COVID-19.

6. Subcommittee Status Updates

Representative(s) from each subcommittee or working group shared accessibility and/or related updates with the committee.

Human Resources Subcommittee

  • Accessible Virtual Interview Processes -HRS has fully transitioned to Zoom as the primary video conferencing platform for virtual interviews; GoToMeeting is no longer used. Recruitment and Promotion team has reviewed Accessible Video Conferencing Guidelines and will include in administrator toolkit to be sent out in June for use with school-based interviews.

  • Workplace Emergency Response Plan - DM currently provides this information upon return to work. Principal completes Employee Workplace Emergency Response Plan form with employee, which was presented to Committee. Form uploaded in Google Share Drive for reference.

  • Return to work processes - Overview of Disability Management Meeting form shared with Committee. Meeting held to review employee’s current functional abilities based on medical documentation and ensure suitable work accommodations are in place. Form (1196 template) uploaded in Google Share Drive for reference.

  • Review of Employment Standards Final Report - Final recommendations from Employee Standards Development Committee published online to public. Includes eight recommendations, of which six are applicable to YRDSB. Applicable recommendations were focus of discussion in recent Human Resources Subcommittee meeting.

Digital Media, Website Management & Learning Working Group

  • Chromebook procurement - Board purchased a large volume of Chromebooks to support remote learning during the pandemic, which has served two main objectives:

    1. Support local school needs - Devices were shipped directly to schools in November 2020 and February 2021. Elementary schools were prioritized given the learning model.

    2. Support Remote Learning – Remaining devices managed centrally at Dr. Bette to support EVS/SVS students. ITS has deployed 8000+ devices to students since September 2020. Demand for devices increases during lockdowns and the move to remote. If local school cannot fulfill requests, ITS provides central support through Student Technology Exchange Program (STEP). 

  • Internet packages - ITS purchased internet packages to support remote needs by students and staff. To date, ITS has deployed 1000+ internet packages.

  • Teacher Technology Exchange Program (TTEP) - ITS leveraged TTEP laptop returns to support the system by providing refreshed laptops to departmental and school staff, as needed. Deployment was prioritized based on critical business continuity due to limited supply.

  •  New website launch-Refreshed public-facing website officially launched March 26, 2021. New website is much more accessible and user-friendly from the front-end (as a public user) and back-end (as a content contributor). HRCO web pages have been migrated into the new Board website.

Barrier Buster and Built Environment

  • Automatic door openers - Plant Services continues to install automatic door openers as needed.

  • Sutton District High School ramp - installation of a ramp to the dance studio was requested through Barrier Buster. The ramp has been approved and installation is expected to take place in the summer months.

  • Fire alarm replacements - As fire alarms are due for replacement, they are upgraded the visual fire alarm systems which includes strobe lighting to accommodate individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

  • Braille signage multi-year plan - Plant Services worked with Blind and Low Vision Services to identify and confirm new priority schools where Braille signage is required. Two public schools have been approved for Braille signage this year, with a multi-year plan developed to manage future Braille signage projects.

Student Services Subcommittee

  • World Autism Acceptance Month (April) - The Board is moving from Autism ‘awareness’ to Autism ‘acceptance’ by focusing on commonalities we share and accepting people from who they are. A Supporting Materials for World Autism Acceptance Month memo included links to activities, books, texts and videos to help shift the mindset and learning away from awareness and towards acceptance.

  • Blind/Low Vision MacBook Pro pilot project - Pilot formally launched with two MacBook Pros being fully imaged by ITS and distributed to students with low vision.

  • “Camp-In-A-Bag” program - Orientation and Mobility specialists have developed their fourth iteration of “Camp-In-A-Bag” to engage students with games, crafts, inquiry-based learning, and an interactive series of online events. All activities focus on developing spatial skills and mobility strategies in their home, neighbourhood and community.

  • Accessible online gaming - Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments (TSVIs) are engaging students through online games that are accessible for people with low vision.  Some mainstream online games have been adapted with tactile materials so that they can play alongside their sighted friends and foster friendships, while remaining socially distant.

  • DHH personal captioning pilot project - Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH) department has created a system whereby the Rogers NeckLoop, Touchscreen, SoundField and Webcaptioner software collectively provide automated real-time captions and transcripts for students in face-to-face learning environments. The system also has multilingual capacity so students in French Immersion also have access to closed captioning

  • Speech and Hearing Awareness Month (May) - DHH department will recognize the month with their annual “Dress Up Loud” event with staff, students and families.

  • Accessibility training - Assistive Technology Consultants (ATCs) have taken a lead role in providing training to Student Services staff on creating accessible materials, mainly slide decks which are used often for professional learning.  ATCs and Digital Literacy Team partnered to build shared capacity for creating accessible resources for both classroom teachers and consultants. Professional learning for elementary EAs took place on January 15, 2021 PA Day. Also working with Leadership Development to offer accessibility training to secondary EAs for May 7, 2021 PA Day.

Curriculum Working Group

  • Draft accessibility 101 module - New accessibility module in development entitled “Beyond Compliance: A Re-Introduction to Accessibility”. The training module is intended to be separate from three existing accessibility compliance training modules, which are only one-time training requirements.

Action Item: Committee members asked to review draft Google Slides storyboard and provide feedback/commentary before end of school year.

6. Accessibility News Items and Member Q & A

Accessibility Learning

Brandon attended two virtual accessibility and disability conferences in March 2021 and shared video links to following recorded sessions:

Accessibility Professional Network (APN) 2021 Conference: Accelerating Access was a model for how to host an accessible and engaging virtual conference.

Action Item: Committee members encouraged to watch/listen to sessions as professional learning and motivation to accelerate access within our respective areas of work.

7. Upcoming Meeting Dates and Adjournment

  • Next meeting scheduled for September 30, 2021 in 2021-2022 school year.

Meeting adjourned.

AODA Advisory Committee Meeting - Apr. 29, 2021 (PDF version)

    2019-2020 School Year

    2018-2019  School Year

    Please email if you require any of the meeting minutes or AODA Advisory Committee information in an alternative format.


    The AODA Advisory Committee is composed of the following membership groups with representation from the various departments and units across the Board community:

    • ​All HRCO staff
    • ​3 Board Advisory Committee members,
    • 4 Corporate Management and Professional Staff (CMPS),
    • 2 Human Resources Services (HRS) staff,
    • 1 Inclusive Schools and Community Services (ISCS) staff,
    • 2 Information Technology Services (ITS) staff,
    • 2 Plant Services staff
    • 2 Student Services staff,
    • 1 Student Transportation Services staff,
    • 2 School Administrators,​​
    • 1 Trustee, and
    • 7 Union representatives (from each of the following),
      • ​Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), District 16
      • Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario - York Region (ETFO-YR)
      • Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario - York Region Occasional Teachers (ETFO-YR OT)
      • Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 1196 (CUPE 1196)
      • Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 1734 (CUPE 1734)
      • Ontario Public Services Employees Union (OPSEU)
      • Professional Student Services Personnel (PSSP) - OSSTF D16

    For a list of individual members, please refer to the AODA Advisory Committee Terms of Reference​.

    ​​Subcommittees and Working Groups

    To best operationalize the work of the AODA Advisory Committee, a number of specialized subcommittees and working groups were created to advance various areas of accessibility at YRDSB: