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Disability History in State Standards and Mandates - and Other Tools

Published on Wed, 01/10/2024

Stronger together shows men and women of different races side-by-side, hands forward, holding an array of giant flowers. Above them, a flock of birds flies in front of the sun.
Stronger Together. Nina Yagual. Amplifier Well-Being mental health campaign. (2023). The Amplifier site has lessons and more posters.

Check Out New Resources and Tools at 

Emerging America recently added useful functions to our website. At the suggestion of friends at the #TeachDisabilityHistory campaign, we added an FAQ page to the Reform to Equal Rights curriculum. And we added more lessons as well as search tools to the Teaching Resources page. Finally, we created a Learning Standards page to shape inclusive curriculum.


FAQ - Reform to Equal Rights

Responds to many frequently asked questions and helps guide implementation. What are your questions about this powerful new curriculum? 


Teaching Resources

Features 50 accessible teacher-written lessons, 37 media-rich primary source sets on a wide range of topics, nearly 30 strategies and tools to aid design and implementation of inclusive instruction, and more. 


Learning Standards

The Learning Standards page features detailed alignment of the Reform to Equal Rights: K-12 Disability History Curriculum to state standards for:

  • Massachusetts - Massachusetts incorporates much disability history into history content standards. 
  • New Jersey - Educators are making a serious effort to support implementation of the mandate to teach disability history. 


National Standards and Reform to Equal Rights

The Learning Standards page also discusses key national frameworks that shaped Reform to Equal Rights: 

  • National Council for the Social Studies College, Career, and Civil Life (C3) Framework
  • Educating for American Democracy (EAD) Roadmap


State Laws on Teaching Disability History

Based in part on what we learned at last month’s conference of the National Council for the Social Studies, the new Learning Standards page tracks state laws that mandate and/or support the teaching of disability history. 

  • Six states mandate Disability History Day, Week or Month: Florida, Maryland, Mississippi, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia; Iowa’s mandate for Disability History Week expired; Delaware encouraged it for one year. 
  • Six states mandate the teaching of disability history: California, Illinois, Kansas, New Jersey, Oregon and Nevada. 
  • Pennsylvania is implementing a small grants program to support disability inclusive curriculum (which may include disability history). 

Find further details about these laws on the Learning Standards page. If you have more recent information about mandates and/or supporting programs in any state, please contact us! Email Rich Cairn <rcairn @>. We will gladly update this page! Watch the Emerging America History eNews for updates. (Sign up for the eNews on our Home page.) 


Teaching Disability History Interest Group

We invite any who seek to advance disability history in K-12 schools to join a new Teaching Disability History Interest Group that will meet bi-monthly, starting February 8, 2024, 5-6pm Eastern Time. Sign up here to receive the zoom link before and meeting notes after. 

Rich Cairn

Civics and Social Studies Curriculum and Instruction Specialist, Collaborative for Educational Services
Rich Cairn founded Emerging America in 2006, which features the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program at the Collaborative for Educational Services, and the National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks of American History program, "Forge of Innovation: The Springfield Armory and the Genesis of American Industry." The Accessing Inquiry clearinghouse, supported by the Library of Congress TPS program promotes full inclusion of students with disabilities and English Learners in civics and social studies education.