When we think of disabilities, we tend to think of people in wheelchairs and physical disabilities — disabilities that are visible and apparent. But disabilities can also be less and non-visible. We can’t always tell who has a disability. 

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) highlights how people with non-evident disabilities are susceptible to discrimination:

Regardless of whether a disability is evident or non-evident, a great deal of discrimination faced by people with disabilities is underpinned by social constructs of “normality” which in turn tend to reinforce obstacles to integration rather than encourage ways to ensure full participation. Because these [non-evident] disabilities are not “seen,” many of them are not well understood in society. This can lead to behaviour based on misinformation and ignorance. 

Non-evident disabilities. In Ontario Human Rights Commission. Retrieved January 2, 2020, from www.ohrc.on.ca/en/policy-ableism-and-discrimination-based-disability/2-what-disability

The AODA uses the same, broadened definition of disability as the OHRC that:

  • includes past, present, and perceived conditions
  • reaffirms student’s right to discrimination and harassment-free education
  • represents impact of ableism on students’ access to education when struggling with mental health

The OHRC’s revised policy on accessible education for students with disabilities was released in March, 2018. This policy guarantees the right to equal treatment in education, without discrimination on the ground of disability, and it applies to public and private elementary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities.