Preparing students to talk about disabilities
- Ask students to define “disability.” Someone in the class may use the definition “A disability is someone who can’t do something.” Discuss what this definition emphasizes (can’t do instead of can do). Does this definition describe everyone not just people with disabilities? Is a “disability” a “someone” or is it something a person has? Point out that defining disability is difficult because there are so many different disabilities and so many different people with disabilities.
- Ask students if they know someone with a disability. Ask them to describe the person and tell something that they have learned about that person or disability.
- Introduce “people first” language. Start with what you know when you speak about people with disabilities. Use “student with mental retardation” instead of “retarded student” or “kid with a hearing impairment” rather than “deaf kid.” How can “people first” language change the way we treat people with disabilities?
- Ask students to discuss with their family members what they are learning about people with disabilities.