Talking About Disabilities in the Classroom

150 150 DC Special Education Cooperative

As part of it’s efforts to increase inclusion, OSEP has provided funding to National Institute for Urban School Improvement to provide resources for school districts to use in redesigning their programs.  The results are worth checking out.  A paper by Phil Ferguson for NIUSI suggests making disability studies a part of school curriculum so that students are engaged with peers with disabilities and simultaneously learning about how others have handled them in the past. 
This is a simple, yet revolutionary idea and one worth considering. We are already very deliberate in how we incorporate racial, ethnic or religious minorities in school curriculum, this is simply a logical extension of that practice.  It is a particularly compelling argument in DC, where many students can recite parts of MLK’s “I have a Dream” speech but know nothing about the protests at Galludet University 25 years later that were largely inspired by the Civil Rights Movement and had an enormous impact on disability rights advocacy.
The paper not only lays out the argument for making the change, but also gives lots of suggestions for how start.  We highly recommend reading the article for yourself.

Infusing Disability Studies into the Classroom