Protecting students with disabilities from discrimination

This article was published in The Hamilton Spectator.

Q: What are the rights of a student with a disability?

A: The Education Act ensures that all students who live in Ontario have the right to a free primary and secondary education. The Ontario Human Rights Code (“Code”) protects students with disabilities from experiencing discrimination, and requires that school boards ensure students with disabilities have access to a meaningful education.

To meaningfully access their education, students with disabilities often require accommodations. Examples of accommodations are: augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), educational assistant (EA) support, and additional time for tests and assignments. Under the Code, education providers have legal duty to accommodate students with disabilities up to the point of undue hardship. This extends to both public and private schools in Ontario.

The accommodation process requires participation of the school board and the student and/or parents, to work collaboratively to determine the best accommodation plan. Parents and/or students must inform the school of the disability and the student’s accommodation needs.

Failure to establish an adequate accommodation may amount to discrimination pursuant to the Code.

Every student in Ontario has the right to a meaningful access to education. If you or your child has experienced discrimination or are struggling to secure an adequate accommodation, explore your options for legal support by reaching out to a member of the Ross & McBride Human Rights team.