December 3 is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities—which aims to promote awareness and mobilize support for disability rights issues. Today, the CLC recognizes a union member for their disability rights activism.
This year, on the twelfth anniversary of the award, the Canadian Labour Congress is pleased to announce OECTA member Angelo Tocco as the 2023 winner of the Carol McGregor CLC Disability Rights Award!
Angelo has been a teacher and OECTA member for over 26 years, using his knowledge and lived experience as a person with a disability to advocate for accessibility, inclusion and meaningful change for those with hearing loss in his union, workplace and profession.
Angelo empowers students and workers with disabilities to start conversations about access and inclusion. As a teacher at Dante Alighieri Academy in Toronto, Angelo helped a group of students create an educational film titled “Exploring Speech to Text, Inclusion and Belonging.” The video raised awareness of informational, technological and attitudinal barriers to accessibility and inclusion. Angelo and his students won the Rick Hansen Foundation School Program Difference Maker of the Year award for the film. Angelo has also facilitated a “connecting with members forum,” which offered a safe space for OECTA members with disabilities to build community.
Angelo has advanced accessibility on a systemic level, raising organizational consciousness of accessibility in each role he holds. He completed a one-year secondment with the Ontario College of Teachers Standards of Practice and Education (SP&E) unit, where he played an instrumental role in revising Standards of Practice and Education accessibility practices.
He is also a member of the Ontario Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility Kindergarten to Grade Twelve (K-12) Standards Development Committee under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). As a member of this committee, Angelo contributed to removing barriers to accessibility in Ontario’s Kindergarten to Grade 12 publicly funded education system. Angelo is also a member of the York Region Accessibility Advisory Committee (YRACC).
Angelo has also been an active leader in advancing accessibility and inclusion within the labour movement and his union. He was also a foundational member of the OECTA Accessibility, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (AIDE) Task Force, a member of the Diversity Advisory Board, and he is a current member of the Member Engagement Committee. He’s advised the Provincial Executive in each role, using his extensive knowledge of best practices to facilitate meaningful inclusion for members with disabilities.
Within the broader labour movement, Angelo has also participated actively at the CLC Convention, contributing to preparatory discussions on disability-related resolutions. He regularly shares updates on policy and social issues, cultural competency and critical legislation such as the AODA.
A cornerstone of Angelo’s activism is using his lived experience to teach others. In the words of his nominator, René Jansen in de Wal, “[h]is greatest contributions involve using his own needs to educate and create awareness to provide universal accessibility tools and resources. Angelo has not only shown us the roadmap, he has also taught us how to use it.”