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Why Students Should Learn About Disabilities in School

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I think it would be beneficial for schools to teach about disability. As a person with cerebral palsy and an amputee, sometimes I am asked about my disability. I really don’t mind telling people about it and educating them a little bit. However, conversations like that leave me wondering how much education they’ve received about various disabilities, if any at all. This starts the wheels in my head turning, and I ponder why awareness of disabilities is not included in the regular educational curriculum.

I feel including disabilities in education would be beneficial and may even decrease discrimination. While some who discriminate can be cruel, I often feel those judging individuals with disabilities are acting out of “fear of the unknown.” Education about disability can cover causes, symptoms, treatments and important things to consider when interacting with a person with a disability. The teachings should include both visible and non-visible disabilities, and physical disabilities as well as mental. This should be started in grade school and continue throughout the educational career.

The curriculum can be catered to the specific age groups. For instance, younger children can be taught what questions are acceptable to ask. Older children can do a specific case study of a particular disability, examine different laws such as the Americans With Disabilities Act), learn about philanthropy to help those with disabilities or study those who have paved the way for awareness and recognition of disabled individuals. One man who comes to mind is Ed Roberts. At a young age, Roberts contracted polio, but rather than letting it limit his mind and body, he used his disability as an opportunity to become a pioneer for disability inclusion in the community.

I believe education has the ability to greatly reduce discrimination. We need to create a more accepting and  understanding environment for kids with disabilities, not just at home but in schools as well.

Getty image by Wavebreak Media.

Originally published: November 11, 2018
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