CNIB Letter to Education Minister Endorsing Views Brief

January 31, 2018

by email and mail

The Hon. Mitzie Hunter
Minister of Advanced Education & Skills Development
Government of Ontario
3rd Floor, Mowat Block
900 Bay Street
Toronto, ON  M7A 1N3

Dear Minister Hunter,

RE:   CNIB support for VIEWS for the Visually Impaired brief to the Ministry of Education.

The recommendations identified in VIEWS for the Visually Impaired Brief to the Ministry of Education echo the challenges, barriers, and gaps in support and accessibility that CNIB also identified in our recently submitted feedback to the Government of Ontario’s consultation on the proposed Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Accessibility Standard for Education.

From surveys within our community, CNIB has found that families often feel isolated and increasingly frustrated when trying to navigate the current educational system in Ontario. The VIEWS brief also illustrates this. Parents and students are looking for more concise and informative support that caters to the varying individual needs of each student especially when it comes to assistive technology. Foundation Programs offered by CNIB, such as Beyond the Classroom and Accessible Technology Support, aid families trying to navigate the educational system, but it is concerning that parents are regularly forced to turn to community organizations for support and advice on how to access accessibility supports for their child with a disability.

The Hon. Mitzie Hunter
Minister of Advanced Education &
Skills Development

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CNIB and VIEWS also identified the inability to access textbooks and course materials in an accessible format and a timely manner as one of the greatest barriers to academic success.

CNIB supports VIEWS ask that the Ministry of Education update, monitor and modify the standards and qualifications for a teacher to serve as a “Teacher for the Visually Impaired” (TVI) in Ontario. We agree that the current system may not adequately teach educators how to meet the unique needs of students with vision loss especially when it comes to technology.

Additionally, CNIB supports VIEWS ask that the Ontario Government guarantees school boards train students with vision loss on current adaptive technology (including Apple iOS devices) to enhance their educational experience, give them the tools to help succeed and create a more inclusive environment.

Only 65% of students with sight loss graduate from high school, compared to 81% of the sighted population (2011 CNIB Needs Study). We believe that with the correct academic and accessibility supports, students who are blind or partially sighted should be able to perform equally with their sighted peers.

We look forward to receiving a response from the Government of Ontario on this very important submission.

Len Baker
Regional Vice-President, Ontario and Quebec

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