David Lepofsky Email to Ministry of Education on Views March 1 2018 Meeting

Text of the March 2, 2018 email from Views board member David Lepofsky  to Ontario Assistant Deputy Ministers of Education Martyn Beckett and Shirley Kendrick

Thank you so much for meeting with representatives from Views for the Visually Impaired and CNIB on March 1, 2018, to discuss the call for new action to substantially improve the qualifications and training for teachers of the visually impaired (TVIs) who work with students with vision loss in Ontario schools. We appreciated your listening attentively and asking detailed questions about this serious concern, one with which the Ministry had not been fully familiar.

As we emphasized in our discussion, there is no policy reason for Ontario to lag so far behind several other jurisdictions in Canada and the US, when it comes to the training and qualifications for TVIs. Ontario is approaching a real crisis, given the shortage of qualified TVIs and Orientation and Mobility Specialists in Ontario, the looming retirements of many now working in this field in Ontario, and the lack of any Government strategy to address this. This problem has festered for years. Our brief and in-person presentation gives the Government a great chance to take a fresh start on this issue.

There are several inter-related issues here:

  • The need to substantially improve the training requirements that a person must fulfil to be qualified to serve as a TVI in an Ontario skill.
  • Ensuring that there are proper graduate level programs in Ontario to train TVIs.
  • Ensuring a sufficient supply of TVIs for Ontario’s needs.
  • Addressing the similar issues for Orientation and Mobility Specialists working in Ontario schools, and
  • Ensuring school boards employ properly-qualified people in these roles.

As we discussed, we would be very happy to connect you with leading experts in this field in Canada and the US. We have direct and good connections with them. We would be happy to provide any further background information that will help you explore the best roadmap for addressing this.

As we also discussed, and our brief emphasizes, we ask the Ministry of Education to lead the reform effort needed in this area. We don’t want to have to run in circles, dealing with different departments and Government organizations.

Thank you for agreeing to a follow-up discussion in about four weeks, once you have had a time to take a look at this, and consider what options or routes might be worth exploring for tackling this issue. Could we ask that your scheduler work out a time for a follow-up discussion at that time. As with our meeting yesterday, several at our end may wish to take part by phone, but the option of coming in person would also be great. For your convenience, I am copying all the people you need to loop into the scheduling discussion.

Again, thanks for the meeting, and we look forward to working with you on this.

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