Highlights from the 2020-21 Accessibility Report
November 24, 2021
At the November Program Committee meeting of the Upper Grand District School Board, staff presented the 2020-21 Annual Accessibility Report. The 2020-21 Annual Accessibility Report highlights the work accomplished throughout the school year, despite the restrictions imposed by COVID-19.
The UGDSB remains committed to working to exemplify and advance the four principles of accessibility: dignity, independence, integration and equal opportunity. The UGDSB is advancing these principles by identifying, removing and preventing barriers for the 35,000+ students, 4,000+ staff and community members it serves in 65 elementary schools, 11 secondary schools and two remote learning programs.
The report supports and reflects all the objectives of the UGDSB’s Multi-Year Accessibility Plan and highlights measures the board has taken to identify, remove and prevent barriers for persons with disabilities in the areas of training, education, building an accessible culture and leadership, procurement, information and communication, employment, transportation, the built environment and outdoor play spaces.
For highlights from the board’s work in accessibility in the 2020-21 school year, please keep reading below.
The board’s Curriculum, Special Education, Equity and Mental Health teams continued to partner with accessibility in order to meet the needs of students. This year work included:
- Development and maintenance of a Special Education website for parents to easily access school and community resources
- Providing a link to the Accessibility Plan on the yearly Special Education Plan
- Building accessibility into the Student Centered Instructional Tool process to guide classroom design and teaching strategies
- Reconfiguring the Student Safety Passport (SSP) in Brightspace to include accessible language, layout and integration with Google Read and Write
- Partnering with Mental Health to provide training for Child and Youth Workers and Social Workers
- Further educating staff (elementary and secondary) on Culturally Relevant and Responsive pedagogy in literacy and numeracy
- Purchasing and developing more culturally responsive and relevant resources specifically addressing Early Learning, French (including Indigenous authors and perspectives, Black and racialized authors and perspectives)
- Organizing and implementing de-streaming initiatives
- Teaching and learning with both staff and students about the Use For All Washroom initiative and board’s Period Equity program.
Terry James Resource Centre
Throughout COVID-19, the Terry James Resource Centre (TJRC) continued to be the hub for accessible resources and support. TJRC staff’s work was multifaceted and covered many areas.
Since the beginning of September 2020, TJRC completed 3D printing projects for various departments to support accessibility and learning. Projects included:
- 20 wearable microphone holders
- 4 custom iPad keyguards
- 1 set of 35 tactile symbols for Universal Core Vocabulary
- 290 document cameras for various departments
The high demand for online resources and eBooks continued throughout the year. The TJRC added approximately 2,500 eBooks and digital audiobooks to Sora, their main eBook platform in 2020-2021.
Additional streaming videos with closed captioning were also added to the Learn360 platform based on educator requests and gaps identified by the TJRC staff. The TJRC added or extended licenses for 40 videos this year. The demand for resources to support English language learners continued to be identified as a need across the board and the TJRC staff will be investigating available options in this area in the coming school year.
The Purchasing Department worked collaboratively with other departments within the board to ensure that accessibility design, criteria and features were considered when procuring or otherwise acquiring goods or services. To assist in meeting the accessibility goals across the system, the following work was completed in 2020-21:
- Ongoing procurement of product with height adjustable legs to be placed on furniture ordered for Learning Commons, Media Labs, Classrooms, and other related rooms
- Working with Operations to convert the surface material in many playgrounds this year from peastone to more accessible surface material
- Working with Operations to purchase additional door operators, push buttons, magnetic hold opens, etc. to assist with accessibility and the reduction of touch points
- Period Equity dispensers/product purchased for 91 washrooms
- Voice amplifiers (mic/speaker sets) continue to be sourced and purchased
- Communication devices including Tobii I-13 (eye gaze enabled speech generating device) and GridPad Pro w/ Eye gaze were purchased
- Ongoing procurement of Otterbox ipad cases for Special Education students
The Purchasing Department continues to provide an essential service to all departments within the UGDSB, and is an advocate of the four accessibility principles.
Information and Communication
A review of all accessibility features for all updates and purchases related to board and school websites in anticipation of WCAG 2.1 Level AA standards was also completed in the 2020-21 school year. The AODA scanning tool and manual testing will continue to be used on board and school websites to ensure compliance with content and materials and to identify any areas for improvement.
Since 2019, the board has seen a tremendous shift in school communications. All UGDSB schools are now using School Messenger, an accessible communication tool that shares information with families. Monthly school newsletters have been replaced by daily and/or weekly updates, providing content that is accessible to all groups in the UGDSB community.
The above information is just a few of the many highlights in accessibility in the 2020-21 school year. To read the full report, visit www.ugdsb.ca/accessibility.