The Information and Communication Standard focuses on ensuring persons with disabilities have access to information. When applied to education, this standard focuses on ensuring that all information and communication related to teaching and learning is accessible. The definition of information and communication is broad and can include posters, handouts, worksheets, brochures, feedback forms, videos, telephone calls, e-mails and messages, web content, and face-to-face interactions. The goal of these standards are to promote the inclusive design of information and communication platforms across Ontario and to illustrate what measures are required to remove barriers for persons with disabilities when creating, conveying, and receiving information and communication.
Within the area of Information and Communications, there are a number of sections that apply to education. These are described below in the following six sections:
- Section 11: Accessible Feedback Process
- Section 12: Accessible Formats and Communication Support
- Section 14: Accessible Website and Web Content
- Section 15: Educational and Training Resources and Material
- Section 16: Training to Educator
- Section 17: Producers of Educational or Training Material
Section 11: Accessible Feedback Process
Every obligated organization that has processes for receiving and responding to feedback shall ensure that the processes are accessible to persons with disabilities by providing or arranging for accessible formats and communications supports, upon request.
Objective of Section 11 Regulation
The objective of this regulation is that all organizations, with an existing process to respond to and receive feedback, make them available in ways that are accessible to persons with disabilities. Organizations are responsible to inform the public about the availability of accessible formats and communication supports within their existing feedback process. Many organizations have established feedback processes for employees to provide feedback on their workplace experiences.
By providing feedback in a variety of ways, as listed below, feedback process is made more inclusive:
- By phone, email, in person
- Through questionnaires, surveys, focus groups, suggestion boxes, etc.
Read more about Section 11 on AccessForward’s website. Check out their website for additional training resources and modules.
Section 12: Accessible Formats and Communication Supports
- Every obligated organization shall upon request provide or arrange for the provision of accessible formats and communication supports for persons with disabilities,
- in a timely manner that takes into account the person’s accessibility needs due to disability; and
- at a cost that is no more than the regular cost charged to other persons.
- The obligated organization shall consult with the person making the request in determining the suitability of an accessible format or communication support
Objective of Section 12 Regulation
This standard is the basic tenet of the AODA, which requires service providers to take into account a person’s disability when communicating using the greatest amount of accessible formats and communication supports available. The goal is to find ways in which all persons are communicated to fairly and equally. The objective of this regulation is that all organizations will provide and receive information and communication in an accessible format, in consultation with the individual making the request. Meeting these requests in a timely matter and providing information at no additional cost beyond those typically charged are important parts of this regulation.
Consultation is necessary for determining the suitability of an accessible format or communication support. Some people require methods other than standard print to access information. Alternatives to standard formats are often called INSERTLINKLATER Alternative Formats and methods to assist communication are often referred to as communication supports. An accessible format might include:
- A digital document that is accessible to a screen reader, such as Word, PDF and HTML
- Large print documents
- High contrast documents
- Braille documents
- Plain language documents
- Text transcripts of visual and audio information
- ASL interpretation
- Captioning and audio description
- Reading text-based material aloud to a person and restating information as needed
The Alternative Education Resources for Ontario service provides Ontario students with print disabilities and the educators supporting them with a number of digital alternate format materials based on the K-12 curriculum. There are a number of other INSERTLINKLATER alternate format providers across Canada.
Read more about Section 12 on AccessForward’s website. Check out their website for additional training resources and modules.
Section 14: Accessible Website and Web Content
- The Government of Ontario and the Legislative Assembly shall make their internet and intranet websites and web content conform with the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, at Level AA, and shall do so in accordance with the schedule set out in this section.
- Designated public sector organizations and large organizations shall make their internet websites and web content conform with the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, initially at Level A and increasing to Level AA, and shall do so in accordance with the schedule set out in this section.
Objective of Section 14 Regulation
The objective of this regulation is to ensure that all intranet and internet web-based material meets the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) Level A and level AA according to the AODA schedule of compliance dates.
The WCAG 2.0 describes how to make Web sites that are accessible to everyone. How to Meet WACG 2.0 provides a list of some of the important steps to ensure a website is being designed to be accessible.
AChecker is a useful and free tool that can be used to evaluate a website’s accessibility, but it is important that a website is properly evaluated in a number of different ways (e.g. with a screen reader and using keyboard control) to ensure it is as accessible as possible.
The IDRC’s Understanding Web Accessibility Course provides web developers, policymakers, decision-makers, and other interested stakeholders with an understanding of the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.
Read more about Section 14 on AccessForward’s website. Check out their website for additional training resources and modules.
Section 15: Educational and Training Resources and Materials
Every obligated organization that is an educational or training institution is required to complete the following if notification of need is given:
- Provide educational or training resources or materials in an accessible format that takes into account the access needs of the person with a disability to whom the material is to be provided to,
- procuring through purchase or obtaining by other means an accessible or conversion ready electronic format of educational or training resources or materials, where available, or
- arranging for the provision of a comparable resource in an accessible or conversion ready electronic format, if educational or training resources or materials cannot be procured, obtained by other means or converted into an accessible format.
- Provide student records and information on program requirements, availability and descriptions in an accessible format to persons with disabilities.
Objective of Section 15 Regulation
The objective of this regulation is that educational institutions will provide students with disabilities with the following educational material in an accessible format:
- Course and program information
- Student records
- Educational and training materials
Read more about Section 15 on AccessForward’s website. Check out their website for additional training resources and modules.
Section 16: Training to Educators
- In addition to the requirements under section 7 (on training), obligated organizations such as school boards or educational or training institutions shall provide educators with accessibility awareness training related to accessible program or course delivery and instruction.
- Obligated organizations shall keep a record of the training provided, including the dates on which the training is provided and the number of individuals to whom it is provided
Objective of Section 16 Regulation
The objective of this training is that educators and school personnel will have knowledge of accessibility and how to support their students’ needs. Aspects of the training include:
- How persons with various disabilities learn
- The barriers to information and communication that persons with various disabilities may experience
- Tips to remove these barriers and improve learning opportunities for all students
The Council of Ontario Universities (COU) has created the Educators Accessibility Resource (EAR) that responds directly to the requirements of Section 16: Training to Educators. This resource provides guidance to educators with creating accessible and inclusive learning environments.
Read more about Section 16 on AccessForward’s website. Check out their website for additional training resources and modules.
Section 17: Producers of Educational or Training Material
- Every obligated organization that is a producer of educational or training textbooks for educational or training institutions shall upon request make accessible or conversion ready versions of the textbooks available to the institutions.
- Every obligated organization that is a producer of print-based educational or training supplementary learning resources for educational or training institutions shall upon request make accessible or conversion ready versions of the printed materials available to the institutions.
Objective of Section 17 Regulation
The objective of this regulation is that producers of print-based educational and training materials and textbooks must provide educational institutions with accessible or conversion-ready formats, upon request. This practice will enable students with disabilities to access their necessary educational materials with the same ease and timeline as other students.
For example, when creating a course package reader, the producer of the material could be asked to create a conversion-ready version of the document as well as a print version.
For K – 12 students in Ontario who have a print disability, W. Ross Macdonald School and Alternative Educational Resources for Ontario (AERO) provide alternative format educational materials including Braille, large print, e-text, and DAISY digital audio.
Read more about Section 17 on AccessForward’s website. Check out their website for additional training resources and modules.