<![CDATA[Greetings! I'm Scott Savoy, managing editor at http://www.sterlingcreations.ca and I'm back after a spring break. I hope that everyone is doing well and today, I am delighted to republish an editorial written by our president Donna J. Jodhan. Enjoy your weekend. +++++++++++++++ The Ontario government's proposed distance learning policy Written in Feb 2012 By Donna J. Jodhan It is often said that it is the early bird that catches the worm and in this case I thought that I would go out there and try and catch the worm or maybe jump the gun in order to register my concerns. Some time in February, a press release was issued from Queen's Park that stated that the Ontario Government was considering a distance learning policy for colleges and universities; that being mandating these institutions to include and increase more distance learning courses in their syllabuses. All well and good as I for one would applaud this but here is my huge concern. How is the Ontario Government planning to address the accessibility issue when it comes to those students who are blind, partially sighted, and deaf/blind? Or should I be asking if they have even considered this factor in their equation? True it is that distance learning has become the way of life for millions of students the world over but for blind, partially sighted, and deaf/blind students, it is not as cut and dry as you may think. Distance learning has made it possible for more students to obtain an education but in the case of those mentioned above, it is still very much of a challenge and in so many cases a heartbreaking nightmare. Why? there are several factors that continue to present barriers and I will give you some of them so that you can get the picture. First, too many of those websites that are home to distance learning courses are not very accessible to a blind student. They are extremely difficult to navigate and many of the videos that are used as part of course work do not have adequate descriptive video content. Second, Many of the forms on these websites are not very accessible or navigable often leaving a blind student to either seek sighted assistance or give up in pure frustration. This comes about because fields are probably not appropriately tagged. Third, and this is probably one of the biggest barriers for me is that many professors and administrative staff are simply unaware of what makes things accessible. Accordingly, many students are often left to throw up their hands in frustration when they are unable to obtain their textbooks on time. This too often leads to a blind student being left to complete their course well after the time has expired for the duration of the course in question. I know from first hand experience that there are some recognized universities here in Toronto that openly promote accessibility but alas! This is not the case. These institutions continue to vacate their responsibilities to provide equal education for all and it would shock you to learn what types of excuses are being proffered. I am not going to point my finger at any one of these offenders but suffice it to say that one major university when told that the student needed to write their exam in 2013 at their testing center, flat out refused to help saying that they did not have the resources to provide the necessary facilities; access technology hardware and software. There is also a growing concern over some testing centers right here in Toronto refusing to provide facilities to enable blind students to write their exams. So, my parting message to the Ontario government is this: Please do not leave us out. Like anyone else we too yearn to learn and take advantage of distance learning. Yours is a great proposed initiative but we really need for you to take a very close look at how distance learning facilities are being provided to blind students in Ontario. I'm Donna J. Jodhan wishing you a terrific day and weekend. To reach me, please send an email to email@example.com and I would be delighted to send you an electronic copy of our latest newsletter. Here is a complete list of where you can view Donna's blogs and editorials. Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all http://www.donnajodhan.blogspot.com Weekly features on how to increase your success with your business ventures http://www.sterlingcreations.com/businessdesk.htm Weekly articles and editorials on issues about accessibility http://www.sterlingcreations.ca/blog A monthly editorial on issues on diversity http://www.diversityintheworkplace.ca]]>
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- Artificial or attitude? I am still trying to figure this one out and I have to admit that I may never be able to do so. This so-called artificial/attitude barrier has been around much longer than I and this is what it is. Too often, whenever someone with a disability is accompanied by either a friend or family member, they are asked if the accompanying person is a care giver. Recently, I was asked this same question when my friend accompanied me to a lab to have some tests done. The lab technician could not seem to stop herself in asking this question and she was very surprised when both my friend and I said in unison that we were friends. Why should she have been surprised? Was it that she along with so many others around us really do not expect us to have friends who accompany us to appointments? Or is it that they think we need care givers to escort us? Or is it simply that they just do not know what to ask? I do my best to be patient but sometimes I become frustrated and simply tell them that I do not need a care giver. Or I may just turn the question back to them and ask why do they think that my escort is my care giver? 99% of the time there is no response. One of my favourite memories is the day when my mom accompanied me to a pre op appointment and the medical assistant asked if mom was my nurse! On this occasion I could not help but burst into peals of laughter. My mom was speechless! After taking a-hold of myself I gently told the medical assistant that she was my mom; not my nurse. And very recently my friend and I accompanied my mom to the dentist and lo and behold! They thought my friend was a care giver and asked me for her phone number. When I told the staff that she was not our care giver but our friend they were shocked but at least had the manners to apologize. Just my two cents for today. Image: Five blue accessibility logos, hearing impaired, sign language, wheelchair, restroom with wheelchair and guide dog. To learn more about me as a sight loss coach visit www.donnajodhan.com
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