Strengthening Supports for Students with Special Needs
Today Ontario is announcing next steps to strengthen supports for students who are Deaf or hard of hearing, blind or have low vision, deafblind, or have severe learning disabilities.
These next steps include a reading-intervention pilot project, establishing a reference group to provide guidance and input on supports for students who are Deaf or hard of hearing, and taking legislative steps to change the governance structure at Centre Jules-Léger (CJL) to better support French-language students.
READING-INTERVENTION PILOT PROJECTS
The new pilot projects will support English and French students who have severe learning disabilities with their reading skills by implementing practices proven effective in Ontario's provincially-run demonstration schools. The three-year pilots will begin with English-language public and Catholic school boards in the Cambridge, London, Sudbury and Windsor areas in the 2016-2017 school year. Similar pilots will be established for French-language school boards beginning in the 2017-18 school year. As part of the project, research will be conducted to help school boards better understand the needs of students with learning disabilities so they can provide more effective programming for these students in their local communities.
The reference group will provide guidance and input on leveraging provincial expertise in the schools for the Deaf to strengthen programs and improve student outcomes for those who are Deaf or hard of hearing across Ontario. This will include ensuring effective programming is available for students whose first language is American Sign Language (ASL) or Langue des signes québécoise (LSQ).
CENTRE JULES-LÉGER (CJL) GOVERNANCE
CJL provides French-language education and services for students who are Deaf or hard of hearing, blind, deaf-blind and for students who have severe learning disabilities. Ontario intends to take steps to transfer governance of CJL to the 12 French-language school boards in the province, subject to legislative approval.
A working group will provide advice on a new governance model that would support improved programing and better outcomes for French-language students. The proposed transfer of governance responds to feedback from French-language partners during the consultations, and also responds to recommendations made by Ontario's French Language Services Commissioner in 2015.