By Kathy Yanchus • REVIEW STAFF
A five-year accessibility plan to identify and remove barriers for students, staff and the public within schools, was presented to Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board trustees at their committee of the whole last Tuesday (Feb. 5).
The plan is in keeping with regulations that require all provincial organizations to develop, implement and maintain a multi-year accessibility plan, under the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation.
Barriers within the board are identified through a myriad of stakeholders including parents, students, staff and the public and fall under such areas as transportation, technology, attitude and building.
As far back as 2003, the board has developed policies, procedures and services that looked at accessibility and followed through with work towards inclusionary practices, free from barriers, said Superintendent of Education, Jackie Bajus.
Examples of some of the work that has been done within the board include physical accommodations for students and staff with disabilities such as adjustable desks, lifts and E-Vac chairs for emergency evacuation.
In other areas, the HWCDSB web site is continually being upgraded to meet accessibility requirements, and special education programs modified. Technological supports include computer hardware.
When new schools are built or undergo major renovations, attempts are made to accommodate or remove any identified barriers, said Bajus, and features such as accessible washrooms, automatic door operators and in some cases elevators, are included.
An overview of the board’s plan for the next five years is available via the HWCDSB web site, www.hwcdsb.ca, at the Father K. Kennedy Catholic Education Centre, located at 90 Mulberry St. in Hamilton or in accessible formats, upon request, by calling 905-525-2930.
The board is required to provide an annual status report on its progress and at least once every five years, review its plan.