The Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) was established in 1996 based on a recommendation of Ontario’s Royal Commission on Learning. The commission consulted extensively with teachers, parents, students and taxpayers. It concluded that province-wide assessments of all students would contribute to greater quality and accountability in the publicly funded school system. EQAO was created as an independent agency to conduct the assessments and gather and report objective information about our schools.
EQAO plays an important role in Ontario education by conducting province-wide tests at key points in every student’s primary, junior and secondary education and by reporting the results to the public and the school system. The tests measure student performance in reading, writing and mathematics in relation to a common provincial standard and provide valuable information on the performance of Ontario’s education system.
EQAO is working hard to remove and prevent barriers to accessibility for its employees, and for students, schools and boards. The agency has always advocated the participation of all students in the assessments at all levels, and has always provided assessments in alternative formats or with accommodations. As an operational services agency, EQAO will continue to provide accessible services to its stakeholders, aligning itself with the
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), the AODA’s regulations and the Human Rights Code.
In 2005, the government of Ontario passed the AODA, which requires that Ontario be an accessible province by 2025. To help public, private and non-profit organizations identify, prevent and remove barriers to accessibility; the AODA contains accessibility standards in the following areas:
Ontario’s Accessibility Standards for Customer Service Regulation came into force in 2008. These standards foster the understanding that people with disabilities may have different needs. Further standards were combined into the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation, which were been passed into law in 2011 and build on the 2008 standards.
Under the AODA, private and not-for-profit organizations with 50 or more employees, such as EQAO, must create a multi-year accessibility plan and accessibility policies, and must satisfy a number of other requirements. The EQAO Multi-Year Accessibility Plan sets out the work that EQAO has already done to ensure that it offers accessible services and work environments, and describes the work the agency will do to transform itself into an accessible organization according to the legislated requirements. This 2014–2021 accessibility plan outlines the policies EQAO has put in place and the actions it has taken to improve opportunities for people with disabilities. Statement of Commitment
EQAO is committed to treating all people in a way that allows them to maintain their dignity and independence. The agency believes in integration and equal opportunity. It is committed to meeting the needs of people with disabilities in a timely manner, and will do so by preventing and removing barriers to accessibility and meeting the accessibility requirements in the
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
EQAO has already undertaken a number of initiatives to facilitate accessibility throughout the agency.
EQAO uses assistive technology to create alternative versions of its assessments at all levels. The formats of the versions allow any student to take the primary, junior, and Grade 9 assessments and the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test.
EQAO also offers accommodations to students. Accommodations are changes in the way the assessment is administered or the way in which a student with special education needs responds to its components. These do not alter the content of the assessment or affect validity or reliability. In addition, EQAO allows for scribes or prompters, who are individuals who support the same accommodations the student receives on a regular basis for all forms of assessment.
EQAO offers students, parents and guardians, the public and our staff services free of barriers and biases. The agency strives to ensure that it offers support and resources that reflect the key principles of independence, dignity, respect, integration and equality of opportunity. EQAO’s conduct demonstrates its belief in the strength diversity brings to communities.
EQAO is dedicated to providing exceptional and accessible service to its customers. Services are provided in a manner that takes disabilities into account, that respects the dignity and independence of all customers and that integrates accessibility into the agency’s business practices wherever possible.
EQAO has trained its employees and other staff members on Ontario accessibility laws and on the
Human Rights Code as it relates to people with disabilities. Training was conducted in a way that best suits the duties of employees and other staff members.
EQAO ensured that staff members who provide customer service received training as required by the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service Regulation and the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation. This training included
EQAO is committed to meeting the communication needs of people with disabilities. The agency will provide public notice regarding the availability of documentation to people with disabilities, as required by the AODA. All documents required by the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service Regulation, including EQAO’s accessible customer service protocol, notices of temporary disruptions, training records and written feedback process, will be made available upon request subject to the
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
EQAO will provide documents or the information in them to people with disabilities in a format they can use. The preparation of an alternative format may result in delays in providing the requested information.
The agency is currently undertaking a Web site redesign, which incorporates accessibility for people with disabilities. EQAO is working toward meeting all legislated requirements and timelines pertaining to accessibility on its Web site.
Feedback about the delivery of goods and services to people with disabilities may be given by telephone, in person, in writing, in an electronic format or through other methods.
Feedback received by the agency’s Information Centre will be logged, investigated and reported through EQAO’s internal reporting process. Staff will respond immediately to all queries relating to accessibility concerns.
Employment EQAO is committed to fair and accessible employment practices. The agency takes the following steps to notify the public and staff that, when requested, EQAO accommodates people with disabilities during the recruitment, assessment and hiring processes:
EQAO employees who have identified themselves as having a disability and who have the required documentation are able to work with the human resources department to develop individual accommodation plans. In addition, return-to-work plans for employees who have been absent due to a disability will be developed as needed.
The OPS has had an accessible customer service protocol since 2010. The policy meets all the requirements of the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service Regulation and covers all of EQAO’s current practices and obligations.
EQAO is committed to providing accessible customer service to people with disabilities. This means that the agency will provide goods and services to people with disabilities with the same high quality and timelines as it does for others. EQAO will continue to monitor provincial legislation and regulations to ensure it is in compliance with them.
In order to comply, EQAO will review its protocols, procedures and procurement practices with accessibility in mind. The agency will also continually review its accessibility protocols and guiding principles to ensure that they comply with the regulations.
As a part of ensuring that all employees are aware of the accessibility regulations and the agency’s obligation to them, EQAO will provide training to new employees as a part of their orientation.
Current employees will be provided with a refresher course every three years. If there is a change to the agency’s procedures and practices governing the provision of goods or services to people with disabilities, training sessions will be offered to staff.
While the EQAO Web site is being redesigned according to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, relevant employees are also learning about how the agency can provide key documents and publications in accessible formats.
As necessary, EQAO will also explore ways to make all aspects of its work accessible. This includes investigating ways to make meetings more accessible to those who identify their accessibility needs to the human resource department.
In addition, the agency will also ensure that staff members with disabilities have an accessible work station and the necessary tools and software for their job.
EQAO has accomplished much to build the capacity of its employees and establish seamless accessibility practices. The agency will continue to identify and remove barriers at every level in order to create accessible spaces and services that everyone can benefit from.
If you have any questions about EQAO accessibility practices, we would be pleased to hear from you.
Phone: 1-888-327-7377 Mail: Education Quality and Accountability Office, Suite 1200, 2 Carlton Street,
Toronto ON M5B 2M9
EQAO has adapted guiding principles established by the OPS to reflect the agency’s beliefs regarding accessibility. Overall, EQAO’s leadership, management and staff must use reasonable efforts to ensure that programs, protocols and services include procedures and practices to provide accessible service to people with disabilities within and outside the agency.
The principle of respecting the dignity of people with disabilities means treating them as customers who are valued and deserving of timely service of as high quality as that any other customer receives. People with disabilities are not treated as an afterthought or forced to accept lesser service, quality or convenience. The delivery of goods and services must take into account how people with disabilities can access and use them effectively.
In some instances, independence means freedom from control or influence of others—in other words, the freedom to make one’s own choices. It can also mean freedom to do things one’s own way. People who move or speak differently must not be denied the opportunity to participate in a program or service, for example. People with disabilities need to be able to take the time they need, without being rushed or having a task taken away from them.
The provision of goods or services must be integrated so that people with disabilities and those without benefit from the same services, in the same place and in the same or a similar way. Integration means that policies, programs, services, practices and procedures are designed to be accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities.
Equal opportunity means that people with disabilities have the same access as others to obtain, use and benefit from goods or services. They should not have to make significantly more effort to access or obtain services. They should also not have to accept lesser quality or more inconvenience than other customers.