Mohawk College suspended its Accessible Media Production (AMP) program for Fall 2022 due to not meeting targeted enrollment numbers. Dr. Mahadeo Sukhai, Vice-President, Research and International Affairs and Chief Accessibility Officer at CNIB has penned a letter to the President of Mohawk College, Ron J. McKerlie, in response to the announcement.
June 14, 2022
Dear Mr. McKerlie,
We are writing to express our concern and disappointment regarding the recent announcement that the Accessible Media Production program at Mohawk College has been suspended after it did not meet its targeted enrollment numbers. The Accessible Media Production program – like the orientation and mobility program formerly offered at Mohawk College – has had a significant, and disproportionately positive, impact on communities across Canada. Specifically, professionals who have successfully completed the Accessible Media Production program have been well positioned to work with employers across all sectors of the Canadian economy to ensure information and communication (e.g., websites) is accessible to all, including the 1.5 million Canadians with sight loss and 3.4 million Canadians with a print disability.
We are in full support of the open letter which was penned by concerned students and community members. At a time when federal and provincial governments are introducing legislation, standards, regulations, and strengthening accessibility requirements, there is a growing need for highly skilled professionals to produce accessible media content. Specifically, we call your attention to the recent updates to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Information and Communication Standard in Ontario, and new accessibility legislation, standards and regulations in various stages of development in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. As well, forthcoming standards relevant to the Accessible Canada Act may also impact the industry.
As Mohawk College is the only educational institution in Canada to have offered a comprehensive program for accessible media production, suspending this program will be extremely detrimental to the 1.5 million Canadians with sight loss who want, expect and deserve equitable access to information. This move also poses a significant risk to the college’s reputation. This decision, when correlated with the previous cancellation of the orientation and mobility program that has led to a shortage of qualified professionals and recruitment challenges for Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada, could mean that Mohawk College may find itself labeled as an inaccessible postsecondary institution with no regard for the disability community. It is worth asking whether the alienation of potential students with disabilities has been considered in the decision-making process.
To measure the success of a highly specialized offering, such as the Accessible Media Production program, based on enrolment numbers and budget, rather than social impact, is incredibly disheartening. Have you considered what the program alumni are achieving, or the research and industry collaborations (with us and others) that the program team has built? Mohawk College should be proud of being a leader in an emerging field, not diminishing the success based on apparent “business decisions”.
We implore Mohawk College to reinstate the Accessible Media Production program for Fall 2022. We recognize the challenging climate in which we are all currently operating in, but we are hopeful we can collaborate to support the continued success of this important program. I, and my colleagues at CNIB, would welcome an opportunity to meet with you and the Mohawk College leadership team, as well as the Accessible Media Production program team, to discuss how we can work together.
I look forward to hearing back from you in the very near future.
Dr. Mahadeo Sukhai
Vice-President, Research and International Affairs
Chief Accessibility Officer