Private College Has Duty to Accommodate Students With Disabilities, Human Rights Tribunal Confirms

    TORONTO, March 20 /CNW/ - The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has issued
its decision in the case of Brown v Trebas Institute Ontario Inc. The case
involves a complaint filed by Delano Brown who is blind and alleged the
private post-secondary career college discriminated against him in his efforts
to enrol in a Music Business Administration study program.
    As a result of his disability, Mr. Brown required specially outfitted
computer equipment and written course materials in alternative (electronic or
audio) format to enrol in the program. Although Mr. Brown passed the entrance
test, was accepted into the program and paid his enrolment fee, former
administrators testified that they either did not know how to pursue the
matter of accommodation or did not consider it within the scope of their
responsibilities, and left these issues to Mr. Brown to arrange. They also
denied Mr. Brown's request for an enrolment extension to complete arrangements
for his disability-related accommodation needs and financial support.
    The Tribunal found that Trebas Institute discriminated against Mr. Brown
on two bases: its failure to take appropriate steps to put the accommodation
Mr. Brown required into place and its denial of Mr. Brown's request to defer
enrolment to arrange for his accommodations. Trebas Institute was also found
to have misapprehended its legal obligation to remove barriers and take
responsibility for the accommodation process.
    The Tribunal ordered all of the public interest remedies sought by the
Commission. Under the Order, Trebas must not apply its enrolment deferral
policy in a manner that would conflict with its duty to accommodate students
with disabilities. Trebas is to make all inquiries necessary to ensure that
written materials for courses offered by the Institute can be made readily
available in formats accessible to persons with visual disabilities. The
college is also ordered to designate a position in its administrative
structure with primary responsibilities for meeting the accommodation needs of
students with disabilities, and to ensure the training of that person in the
principles of accommodating students with disabilities receiving educational
    Responding to the Decision, Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall of the
Ontario Human Rights Commission said, "All educational facilities need to be
aware of their duties under the Human Rights Code, whether they are private or
public, large or small. Institutions must allow for the necessary time, and
the appropriate resources and policies, to fulfill the required accommodation
process for students with disabilities."

    For more information, please refer to the OHRC's Policy on Disability and
Duty to Accommodate as well as its Guidelines On Accessible Education and
other resources at:

    Aussi disponible en français

For further information:

For further information: Afroze Edwards, Media Relations, Policy &
Education Branch, (416) 314-4528; Francois Larsen, Director, Policy &
Education Branch, (416) 314-4532

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