1. Invite someone with a disability to your school and speak with the kids about their experiences.
Though I was not able to invite a person to come speak with my students due to the nature of my position, I was able to be a member of an audience of a speaker with a disability. He did not have use of one of his hands. He spoke of how most of his teachers treated him like a baby and did not challenge him solely because of his PHYSICAL disability. By fourth grade, he had one teacher who made him feel like a million bucks. She challenged him and essentially ignored his disability. Thirty years later, this gentleman was still speaking of the profound impact she had on him by not allowing him to take the easy way out. By challenging him to achieve what everyone else could, regardless of his apparent struggles. His speech left me feeling energized and reminded me that a person cannot be measured by what they can't do, but what they can or should be challenged to do.
2. Take this quiz if you’re not sure if your knowledge and attitude relating to a person with disability is adequate and discover what areas of etiquette may still need some improving. Good luck! Write about your results and your reaction to those results.
I feel fairly comfortable with my interraction as well as my awareness of people with disabilities. I can't say I was shocked by any of the findings; however, I was shocked that this information is not common knowledge for the public. Watching the role reversal video enlightened me to how it must feel when the ignorant treat those with disabilities improperly. I am hoping to share the content of this step with my administrator as a possible exercise or inservice for my building.
3. Check out your local Independent Living Center (ILC) and Assistive Technology Centers and find out what services are offered. Post your observations to your blog or journal. tell about the positive and negative aspects of what you observed at the sites.
The Independent Living Center that I researched was the Three Rivers Center for Independent Living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I spoke with an employee over the phone as well as a thorough investigation of their website. I was pleased by the core services that they provide: skills training, information and referral, advocacy, and peer support. In addition, there were a number of other services available that include housing, transitioning, and personal services. The website provided both an overview of assistive technology available as well as the equipment that the TRCIL has. What struck me as most profound was the mission statement for the organization. As a teacher, I believe we often lose sight of what happens to a child once they graduate from our particular building. This service provider makes it clear that the goal is to continue a person's development to his or her potential. I am copying the statement only because a paraphrase would not give it justice:
A Center for Independent Living (CIL) is a non-residential, non-profit, community-based human service agency. Its purpose is to enable people with disabilities to lead self-directed and productive lives within the community.
CILs believe that each person with a disability should be empowered to function at their highest achievable level of independence. This is accomplished through a combination of systems change, individual advocacy and provision of direct services. CILs believe in the principles of consumer control, consumer choice, equal access, and equal opportunity for all people with disabilities, regardless of diagnosis or age.
A CIL is unique in that it serves individuals of all ages with any type of disability and, according to its by-laws, a majority of its staff and board members must be people with disabilities.
I hope to continue to use my increased awareness in the classroom by having a more global view of disabilities. I hope that I am able to now look at the bigger picture when I want to complain about IEPs or putting in some extra work. Every human being deserves to thrive and grow throughout his/her lifetime. My goal is to be a contributor to that very dream for of my students, with or without disabilities.
4. Increase your knowledge and do a web search on “Assistive Technology.” Annotate five (5) websites that proved useful.
Three Rivers Center for Independent Living
Assistive Technology Store
Wikipedia Article on Assistive Technology
YouTube Video Created by a Special Education Teacher
Able Data, a Great Source for Assistive Technology Information, minus the marketing