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Right to Read inquiry – community support

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“We strongly support the Right to Read inquiry and its recommendations. Research demonstrates the effectiveness of explicit, systematic instruction in phonemic awareness and phonics, and early assessment and intervention in reading. We urge the Ministry of Education to revise curriculum guidelines to reflect research on literacy development and instruction, as recommended in the RTR report. We encourage boards of education to adopt tiered models for the delivery of inclusive literacy education. We also encourage faculties of education to ensure that their programs in language arts reflect those recommendations in the report. Although the RTR focused on early reading development, we recommend all stakeholders go beyond decoding and spelling, to adopt evidence-based methods for teaching reading comprehension and written expression. Let’s make 2022 the year that Ontario begins to educate all struggling readers and writers effectively!”

- Dr. Perry Klein, Professor, Associate Dean (Research); Dr. Jacqueline Specht, Professor Director, Canadian Research Centre on Inclusive Education; Dr. Daniel Ansari, Professor, Canada Research Chair in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, Faculty of Education, Western University


“Dyslexia Canada applauds the efforts of the Ontario Human Rights Commission and supports the overall recommendations set out in the report. Learning to read is a right that the report clearly states is being denied to a significant number of children in Ontario. We hope that this report will act as the catalyst needed to make the necessary changes to ensure all students receive access to fair and equitable education in Ontario, and indeed across the country. Every child deserves and has the right to learn to read.”

- Christine Staley, Dyslexia Canada


“Over 20 years ago, an international panel of reading specialists laid out the best strategies for teaching students how to read. They wrote that though literacy is comprised of many different skills, knowing the sounds of the language and decoding words are the building blocks to learning how to read. Unfortunately, publicly funded schools in Ontario do not focus on these skills. I am anticipating that the OHRC Right to Read report will bring about a new era of reading instruction that focuses on these basic skills in the early grades.

EQAO data shows that about 38% of high school students are not meeting the provincial definition of being literate. This tells me that illiteracy isn’t only a special education issue. It’s a system issue – and one that will impact quality of life for so many individuals in Ontario if it’s not addressed.

That’s why I am encouraged by the OHRC’s decision to highlight the needs for a new literacy curriculum, systematic instruction, early screening and intervention, targeted use of accommodations and professional assessments in line with current research.

I believe literacy should be a human right. The OHRC’s Right to Read report shares that viewpoint and I am thrilled that literacy is getting more attention.”

- Dr. Todd Cunningham, Clinical and School Psychologist, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Program Chair, School & Clinical Child Psychology Program, Department of Applied Psychology & Human Development, University of Toronto


“The Children’s Aid Society of the District of Thunder Bay fully supports the work of the Commission and believes this inquiry is critical in bringing about necessary changes to meet the needs of students with reading disabilities in Ontario’s public education system. The Society works with vulnerable and at-risk populations and we often see children and youth that lag behind their peers and fall below grade level due to gaps and inequities. In our region, extensive wait lists for assessments are one example, and this delay often means a negative trajectory for a child’s potential and future functioning. As the inquiry has outlined, there is a need for early screening, accessible and timely professional assessments, evidence-based curriculum and reading interventions, and effective and consistent accommodations. The Society supports these recommendations and the Right for all children to Read.”

- Diana Mellerup, Manager, Marley Joblin, Education Liaison, Children’s Aid Society of the District of Thunder Bay


“The Right to Read inquiry has conducted the most in-depth analysis of pedagogy in Canadian history. The findings of this ground-breaking inquiry document the serious and lasting harm caused by Ontario's failure to implement evidence-based educational policies and practices. The inquiry report provides a comprehensive plan to improve equity and prosperity in the province going forward. IDA Ontario calls on all parties to work together to ensure that the Right to Read recommendations are implemented urgently and completely.”

- Alicia Smith, President, International Dyslexia Association Ontario (IDA Ontario)


“Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the release of the Right to Read inquiry report.

Children and youth with reading difficulties are suffering, as I see in my paediatric practice on a daily basis. This is all the more disturbing when I know there are effective systematic instructional practices that can prevent reading failure. I welcome the results of the OHRC Right to Read inquiry, and encourage school boards and teachers’ colleges to start the work of implementing the recommendations consistently across the province. It’s time for the government to show us they do want the best education for our students by introducing curriculum change that implements the Right to Read inquiry recommendations. This is a public health issue!”

- Dr. Nicola Jones-Stokreef, Developmental Paediatrician


“Thank you for the opportunity to express our support for your work.

As physicians and psychologists who are working to meet the needs of children, youth, and adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities in Ontario, the issue of inequitable reading instruction in schools is one of our biggest concerns. We welcome the results of the Right to Read inquiry and look forward to an education system that supports effective reading instruction practices so that all children learn to read well. This is a not just a human rights issue, but a public health issue as well.”

- Dr. Mohammad Zubairi, Chair, Physicians of Ontario Neurodevelopmental Advocacy (PONDA) Network, Associate Professor, McMaster University


“The Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (OSLA) applauds the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) on the results of the Right to Read inquiry. In particular, we support the emphasis on evidenced-based approaches to reading intervention programs and advocate that every Ontario school board has these interventions available to all students who require them.

Due to the centrality of language processes in reading, writing and academic success, Speech-Language Pathologists understand first-hand that early intervention, a Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and timely screening and assessment of literacy skills are crucial to ensure reading success for all.

To promote inclusivity, OSLA supports the OHRC's request to expand recommendation 41.8 so that an education advisory committee addresses other disabilities including students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

OSLA is committed to protecting every student's right to read and supports the timely implementation of the report recommendations to further that goal.”

- Kelly Murray, Chief Executive Officer, Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (OSLA)


“Decoding Dyslexia Ontario is extremely grateful to the OHRC for conducting this historic inquiry into the systemic discrimination facing students with reading disabilities in Ontario. The Right to Read inquiry report documents the harm that our children endure and makes sound recommendations that we hope will lead to significant change. We are particularly thrilled with recommendations regarding: the necessary use of the term “dyslexia;” mandatory universal early screening; accessible classroom instruction; equal and timely access to evidence-based interventions; psychoeducational assessment transparency and equity; and ensuring appropriate accommodations. With the report's emphasis on accurate data-collection and an annual funding envelope to support all recommendations, the OHRC has delivered a ground-breaking report that can kick-start and guide change across Ontario’s public education system. Thank you for listening to our stories and for protecting the right to read for all of Ontario’s children.”

- Annette Sang, Founding Member, Decoding Dyslexia ON


“I am writing this note voicing full support of the findings and necessary implementation of the OHRC inquiry requirements to successfully teach and support all students. As the Past President and current Co-Presidents of the Pediatricians Alliance (PAO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics Ontario Chapter, Dr. Sharon Burey, Dr. Malini Dave and myself, Dr. Jane Liddle, and the PAO board members are relieved this exhaustive work has been done and the findings support what we as pediatricians know to be a crisis in the academic careers of many of our children, especially the most vulnerable. Literacy is crucial in today’s world for success in academics and for overall health and well-being. The need for this support and action is only magnified by the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the academic careers of Ontario’s children.

We support all findings noting the need for evidence-based screening at early and ongoing stages, the provision of accommodations and evidence-based interventions (without need for psychoeducational assessments) and access to professional psychoeducational assessments, as needed, to nurture the literacy and academic success of our most valuable assets, our children.”

- Angie Roberts, Executive Director, Dr. Malini Dave, Co-President, Dr. Jane Liddle, Co-President, Dr. Sharon Burey, Immediate Past President, Pediatricians Alliance of Ontario (PAO)


“The FNMIEAO recognizes First Nation, Metis and Inuit students continue to face disproportionate outcomes in their overall education. The unique and diverse needs of First Nation, Metis and Inuit students compiled with a lack of access to timely, appropriate services and academic support continue to leave First Nation students, families and communities underserved.

The findings within the inquiry demonstrate a concise overview of the issues affecting Indigenous students within the province of Ontario. Indigenous students, families and communities have a right to education that supports and values their language, culture and histories. It is imperative the system addresses the needs of Indigenous students with the support and direction of their families and communities.

Faced with systemic and institutional racism and dominant colonial knowledge systems, First Nation, Metis and Inuit students continue to be negatively impacted by the lack of access to appropriate trauma-informed services and regular and ongoing cultural support by their own people.

We call on all education stakeholders to address systemic and institutional racism that create and perpetuate barriers to accessing special education services for Indigenous students and families. And further, we call on all stakeholders to develop bias-free policy, procedures and services that respond to and support Indigenous students’ and families’ needs in manners that uphold the principles of the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action.”

- Natalka Pucan, Language Co-Chair, First Nations, Métis & Inuit Education Association of Ontario (FNMIEAO)