The AODA 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 AODA Advisory Committee.
The AODA 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 AODA 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.
AODA Advisory Committee Meetings (Minutes)
2021-2022 School Year
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
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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:
Support local school needs - Devices were shipped directly to schools in November 2020 and February 2021. Elementary schools were prioritized given the learning model.
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
Brandon attended two virtual accessibility and disability conferences in March 2021 and shared video links to following recorded sessions:
Pac Rim 2021 Closing Keynote - A Conversation with Haben Girma
Haben’s Call to Action: “society, especially schools, need to help do the work to remove barriers so that disabled students, and disabled professors, and all other disabled people can give their talents and fully participate.”
APN 2021 Opening Plenary Session with Rick Hansen and the Honorable Minister Qualtrough
APN 2021 Plenary Session 1 - Meeting the Built World with our Bodies
APN 2021 Plenary Session 2 - Diversity and Inclusion in the Executive Community
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.
AODA Advisory Committee Meeting - Apr. 29, 2021 (PDF version)
2019-2020 School Year
- May 7, 2020 Minutes
- February 20, 2020 (meeting cancelled)
- November 25, 2019 Minutes
- September 26, 2019 Minutes
2018-2019 School Year
Please email email@example.com 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: