Ontario Supports Launch of First Blind and Low Vision Program for Francophone Students
OTTAWA — As the province prepares to celebrate Franco-Ontarian Day, the Ontario government is investing more than $250,000 in the first blind and low vision program for Francophone students in the province. This ground-breaking initiative at the Centre Jules-Léger provincial school demonstrates the province’s commitment to ensuring all Ontario students succeed in the classroom and reach their full potential. “Our government is committed to supporting all students with all abilities,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “The addition of this new program ensures that Francophone students who are blind or have limited vision get the quality education they deserve by providing more accessible materials and braille instruction in French. It represents another way that our government is ensuring that all students can reach their full potential.” Today’s announcement builds on important investments Ontario has made to support Francophone learners and French-language education. With this investment, 127 students currently being supported by Centre Jules-Léger’s resource services will benefit from accessible course material and new programming. Four students will learn two different types of braille in French. The government’s funding is also supporting the purchase of a variety of specialized equipment to emboss texts and enable blind students to read and write in braille, as well as technology to enlarge documents to facilitate reading for students with low vision. “For many years, Francophone parents have been waiting for the creation of a program for blind and low vision students, specifically so they can learn braille,” said Johanne Lacombe, Consortium Centre Jules-Léger (CCJL) Chair. “Teachers with expertise teaching braille, especially in French, are very rare in Ontario. We are proud to be able to make this specialized programming available at the CCJL.” The Centre Jules-Léger also offers advisory services in deafness, blindness, low vision, and deaf blindness. These services are intended for preschool children and students attending a French-language school in Ontario. CCJL consultants travel across Ontario to support students and their families, as well as school and child care staff in a variety of ways. “We acknowledge the rich history, culture, and diversity of our Francophone community in Ontario and recognize how their contributions have helped to make our province the best place to live, work and go to school,” said Minister Lecce in recognition of Franco-Ontarian Day. “By continuing to support French-language education, we are ensuring that Francophone culture in Ontario is alive and thriving while setting all students up for success.”
CCJL operates the province’s only French-language provincial school for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, blind or have low vision, or are deafblind, in addition to being the only demonstration school for students with severe learning disabilities.
In 2020, the Ontario government proudly announced the transfer of governance of Centre Jules-Léger from the Ministry of Education to the CJL Consortium.
The French-language education system is comprised of CCJL and 12 school boards – eight Catholic and four public with 471 elementary and secondary schools.
There are more than 113,000 students enrolled in Ontario’s French-language schools this year.
This past year, Ontario has invested more than $44 million to construct or acquire five new French-language schools, while also providing additional funding support for previously approved construction projects.
The Ontario government is strengthening French-language education through a new four-year strategy to recruit, train and retain more French teachers. The strategy will help to address the ongoing shortage of French teachers and ensure continued access to high-quality French-language education in the public education system for working families. To support the successful implementation of the strategy, Ontario will invest $12.5 million over the next four years.
Ontario is investing $150,000 to create two new positions at the provincial advocacy group l'Association francophone à l'éducation des services à l'enfance de l'Ontario (AFÉSEO). These positions promote the recruitment, retention and professional development of French-language early childhood educator staff while supporting the provision of high-quality French-language services in child care and early years programs.
Ontario is one of the first jurisdictions in Canada to offer high school students in the province second-language courses in Langue des signes quebecoise (LSQ) and American Sign Language (ASL).
"All students deserve quality education in the language of their choice. This new initiative shows our government’s ongoing commitment to supporting our Francophone students, including those with special needs who have the right to progress in a society that promotes their full development in their language." - Caroline Mulroney Minister of Francophone Affairs "Children are our future and deserve our full attention and the care they need to succeed. The work done by the Centre Jules-Léger provincial school is central to the well-being and development of our youngest Franco-Ontarians. Our government is proud to provide our children with the support they need to learn braille and achieve their dreams." - Natalia Kusendova Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Francophone Affairs "We believe that Francophone students who are blind or have limited vision should get the quality education they deserve. That is why we are ensuring accessible materials and braille instruction in French, so that all students feel respected and supported" - Sam Oosterhoff Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education