Disability awareness lessons teach students about the nature of disabilities and, more importantly, how crucial it is to include disabled people in the activities they are able to participate in. Disability awareness lessons focus on debunking myths, teaching empathy toward disabled individuals and writing reports about famous people with disabilities who achieved greatness in spite of their limitations.
Teach students about what it is like to experience a disability through role playing. Use wheelchairs, crutches, eye patches and ear plugs to simulate what it is like for a disabled student. Take the students on a field trip to identify barriers to the disabled in the community that could prevent equal access and equal opportunities. Upon returning to the classroom, brainstorm solutions to barriers, such as voice instructions at traffic intersections, the use of ramps and equipment for the deaf and hard of hearing.
Famous People Reports
Ask students to write a report on a famous person who has some type of disability. A famous historical person with a physical disability could include Franklin Roosevelt, the composer Handel or Toulouse L'autrec. A famous blind person might be Helen Keller or Stevie Wonder. Famous people with learning disabilities include Tom Cruise and Albert Einstein. Examples of accomplished hearing-impaired people include Beethoven and Thomas Edison. The report should emphasise how having a disability doesn't mean a person cannot achieve great things or participate in an activity they love.
True or False Game
Students will have fun learning about disabilities by playing a true or false game. The teacher can read a statement, and the students respond with a "true" or "false" answer. An example of a statement is, " Disabled people hope to be treated just like everyone else." In this case, the correct answer would be "true." Explain to the class it is important for disabled people to feel they are accepted.
An excellent lesson to teach students how disabled people may feel left out is the alienation activity. Choose a physical feature that people are born with, such as blue eyes. Create special privileges for students with blue eyes throughout the day such as joining recess first, receiving a treat and no homework assignments -- without explaining why those children are being treated differently. All other students get homework, go to recess last and receive no treats. Explain what "alienation" means, and discuss how people with disabilities may feel alienated. Explain the concept of empathy and brainstorm ways to make a disabled person feel included.