Montreal, June 10, 2022
THE QUEBEC ASSOCIATION FOR EQUITY AND INCLUSION IN POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION (AQEIPS)
425 Sherbrooke Street E, suite 06
Montreal (Quebec) H2L 1J9
TO BE PUBLISHED IMMEDIATELY
AQEIPS STATEMENT ON BILL 96
The Quebec Association for Equity and Inclusion in Post-Secondary Education (AQEIPS) was created in 1991 by and for students with disabilities (SWD) at the post-secondary level. We organize many activities and collaborate on research projects to support collective advocacy for the SWD of our province. We also manage a yearly scholarships program for SWD.
AQEIPS wishes to express deep concern about the negative impact Bill 96 will have on students that live with language-based learning disabilities. We believe that it goes against the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion in education that we advocate for. SWD already face numerous barriers throughout their academic careers, and we fear that this new legislation will create even greater burdens that may further jeopardize their future. For students of any origin who already work harder to master their first language due to disabilities such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, autism spectrum disorder, etc., these legislative amendments will create a new set of barriers that may discourage several SWD from pursuing careers in their chosen fields.
The added burden of completing three extra French courses for students with language-based disabilities will also affect their R scores and their admission to university if they wish to pursue higher education. Bill 96 will inevitably create additional barriers for groups that are already marginalized. Language-based disabilities fall under the category known as “invisible disabilities,” and students living with these conditions already struggle to receive the accommodations they are entitled to under the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Students with other disabilities that can make learning a second language more difficult such as blind and visually impaired students, or students from the d/Deaf and hard of hearing communities will also be affected disproportionately.
A reduced access to post-secondary education will have lifelong consequences on SWD. People with disabilities are less likely to find employment and thus more at risk of living in poverty. Being excluded from academic programs because of Bill 96 will only perpetuate this cycle. People with disabilities are systematically forgotten, ignored, and rendered invisible through legislations such as this one. This infringes upon our human rights, and it must end so that we can fully participate to society.
We hope that SWD will be considered for accommodations and exemptions when it comes to completing extra French language courses if these represent a burden that could put their academic and professional success at risk. Accommodations that don’t create undue hardship are one of the rights granted to SWD and we believe that exemptions from additional language courses fall within that scope.
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