Graphic Classroom Blog
"Everyone experiences barriers to success –– hurdles we must address in order to achieve our goals. Those barriers increase exponentially for persons with disabilities. Sometimes the individual causes the problems, but in most cases the barriers are institutional or societal and are based on stereotypes.
Despite working in the disability field for nearly a decade, I still battle my own disability-related stereotypes. Case in point, Sport’s Illustrated Kids’ SKATEBOARD SONAR graphic novel published by Stone Arch Books.
I was into the book 16 pages when I stopped and thought can blind people really skateboard? The minute I thought it, I knew I was headed into a stereotype thought process. I put the comic down and contacted Director of the Missouri State University Disability Resource Center Katheryne Staeger-Wilson. I knew I needed a paradigm shift. If I needed it, I was willing to bet other teachers did too.
Within minutes she pulled up two You Tube videos of Cameron, a local blind skateboarding college student.
“People with disabilities face many myths, stereotypes and assumptions,” said Staeger-Wilson. “These barriers are built-in to society and can be very detrimental to the success of those with disabilities.”
She then related a story about a former blind student of hers (we will call her Amelia) who took a journalism class. The professor assigned the students to write an article on their favorite hobby, their passion. The professor then turned to the blind student and said, “Don’t worry, Amelia. You can just do yours on blindness.”
The assumption, Staeger-Wilson explained, was that the person with a disability had no hobbies, interests or passion beyond disability. Staeger-Wilson explained that the student was offended and hurt, but spent her time trying to figure out how best to prove her validity as a human being to the professor.
“Disability is just different,” said Staeger-Wilson. “It is nothing bad. People with disabilities do the same things others do, they just might do it differently.” Staeger-Wilson offered the following chart for establishing a disability-related paradigm shift.
Matty and Tyson are 13-year-old skateboarders and best friends. They decide to enter the local skateboarding contest. Some people don’t think Matty should enter the contest because he is blind and everyone knows blind people cannot skate. The local bullies are the worst. They pick on Matty and Ty and try to intimidate them by making fun of Matty and his blindness. Matty proves his worth on the half-pipe without anyone’s help, busting up many of the major stereotypes about people with disabilities along the way.
THE LESSON PLAN
Diversity is often –– mistakenly –– thought of exclusively in terms of race, oftentimes the definition being race-specific. However, diversity includes race, ethnicity, culture and even sub-culture. Disability is an often overlooked, but much larger, population than any given racial group because disability occurs across all races and ethnicities. It behooves us to infuse disability culture understanding within the classroom to meet the needs of 21st century learners and to reflect national and state requirements.
From the SKATEBOARD SONAR website, a teacher can select his or her home state to find which standards correlate to this title. Missouri has 13 social studies and communication arts standards connected to this title.
Following is an outline of the lesson plan I am considering for grades 3-4:
1. Sit around the Smart Board.
2. Use a document camera to complete a Picture Walk.
3. In cooperative groups discuss: “Can a blind person skateboard? Why or why not?”
4. Give time for discussion.
5. Each group shares their thoughts with whole class.
6. Watch Cameron’s You Tube video (above).
7. In cooperative groups discuss:
1. “Would you like to change your answer? Why”
8. Read the story aloud using the document camera.
9. Stop periodically and discuss the myths and" - Graphic Classroom Blog
August 1, 2010