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What exactly is a disability?

Published on Tue, 09/22/2020

In celebration of our new course on teaching disability history in the K-12 classroom, we invited Wendy Harris, a teacher at a school for the Deaf with expertise in teaching DeafBlind students, to share her thoughts about disability with us. The topic of Deafness as a disability gives the opportunity to begin with an exploration of the conception of DISABILITY itself, and the question of what abilities and attributes should be regarded as a disadvantage or an equally valid and valuable difference in experience of the world. This is where Wendy Harris's reflections begin. 

Single Point Rubric

Rubrics are frequently used to communicate expectations and standards to students. Making expectations as clear, simple, and easily understood as possible is a practice of value to all learners.

A streamlined rubric form, using one column to specify the target standard, offers advantages for accessibility–especially fewer words to absorb–over more typical multi-column rubrics. This Single-Point Mastery Rubric is an example. 

Polio Primary Source Set

Closed movie theaters, church services, and summer camps – special hospital wards with ventilators called ‘iron lungs’ for polio patients with the most severe cases – parallels between polio and coronavirus epidemics are numerous. What lessons can we learn from history?

Using Visual Primary Sources

Published on Tue, 10/01/2019

Visual Literacy: Making Lessons Accessible and Inclusive

Guest Blog Post by Wendy Harris, High School Social Studies & Teacher of the Blind at Metro Deaf School in St. Paul, Minnesota.  

You want to get your students to work with primary sources, but you have students who struggle with reading English text. Maybe they have a learning disability, English is not their most comfortable language, or any number of other reasons. Sound familiar?

Reforming American Society with Dix and Mann

The instrumental role Dorothea Dix played in reforming prisons and mental institutions, and the actions of Horace Mann in his campaign for free public education are at the center of this lesson. How did improvements in conditions for people in the public charge, whether prisoners or people institutionalized because of disability, come about? How did the the idea of who gets to be educated change? By focusing attention on the strategies used by these social reformers, the lesson engages students in critical thinking about the methods of reformers as well as their goals.

Who Should Care for America’s Veterans?

Care for veterans is relevant to understanding war and the role of government, and is critical to disability history. In this lesson, students gather information through a variety of primary sources on the experiences of veterans from the War of Independence through today. They ask, ‘How has U.S. government care for veterans changed over time?’ Using their evidence, students develop a proposal to today’s Veterans Administration that outlines how veterans should be cared for. 

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