Let’s engage in an exercise.
Say (or think) the word “disability” and write the first five words that come to your mind (or draw what you think of, or say five words into a recording device, you get the idea…).
Do your words or pictures express limitations? Do they have positive or negative connotations? Were your words physical traits, intellectual descriptions or social/emotional concepts?
Watch this video called “I am Brianna Couture“.
Now repeat the exercise above. Did your words or pictures change? Is your thinking slightly different for having watched it? I hope so. That was the point.
This video is a great opportunity to reframe our perceptions of disability and is meant to open our eyes to the notion of invisible disabilities. Taking this idea further, have you ever heard a student say they don’t know anyone with disabilities?
If it’s true….if a student really doesn’t know a single person with a disability; why not? I would suggest that a school’s lack of authentic inclusive practice prevents our children from being fully prepared for life in the real world. Our own attitudes and misconceptions can be the greatest barrier to inclusive schools and communities. We don’t “do inclusion” for our children with disabilities; rather we create inclusive schools and communities because it is right and just and meaningful.
Advocate for inclusion. Use this video and exercise with your own students. (I would suggest that it would be most appropriate for Middle School and older.)
Show the video to your colleagues, to your school’s principal, to your Board of Education. Share it with parents and other advocates. Find the right partners to help you to advocate for meaningful inclusion.
Photo Credit: Maja_Larsson