Differing Abilities


Check out the lesson plant at:http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-47-summer-2014/feature/beautiful-differences

This lesson plan is really important to my studies. I really appreciate how this lesson focuses on having student explore and learning some of the difficulties that people with differing abilities face. The lesson plan articulates a really important point: “be sure to explain to each group that you are not expecting them to know everything about the disability or to become experts or representatives; rather, you are asking them to try to put themselves in the shoes of someone experiencing life with this disability.” This is essential, it is not about becoming an expert or thinking that they know everything about the disability, but just exploring some of the hurdles people with disabilities face everyday.

I found it to particularly interesting that the students are asked to come up with ways in which the world could change to make it more accessible for people with physical disabilities. I think that it’s really good for young students to be thinking about solutions and actions that could be taken to make life more accessible.


I found a beautiful book of poetry called Beauty is a Verb the new poetry of disability edited by Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Black and Michael Northen. Here are two poems that I felt spoke to many.


Poems with Disabilities

by Jim Ferris

I’m Sorry—this space is reserved

for poems with disabilities. I know

it’s one of the best spaces in the book,

but the Poems with Disabilities Act

requires us to make all reasonable

accommodations for poems that aren’t

normal. There is a nice space just

a few pages over—in fact (don’t

tell anyone) I think it’s better

then this one, I myself prefer it.

Actually I don’t see any of those

Poems right now myself, but you never know

when one might show up, so we have to keep

this space open. You can’t always tell

just from looking at them either, Sometimes

they’ll look just like a regular poem

when they roll in…you’re reading along

and suddenly everything

changes, the world tilts

a little, angle of vision

jumps, your entrails aren’t

where you left them. You

remember your aunt died

of cancer at just your age

and maybe yesterday’s twinge means

something after all. Your sloppy,

fragile heart beats

a little faster



by Laura Hershey

What you risk telling your story:

You will bore them.

Your voice will break, your ink will

spill and stain your coat.

No one will understand, their eyes

become fences.

You will park yourself forever

on the outside, your differentness once

and for all revealed, dangerous,

the names you five to yourself

will become epithets.

Your happiness will be called

bravery, denial.

Your sadness will justify their pity.

Your fear will magnify their fears.

Everything you say will prove something about

their god, or their economic system.

Your feeling, that change day

to day, kaleidoscopic,

will freeze in place,

brand you forever,

justify anything they decide to do

with you.

Those with power can afford

to tell their story

or not.

Those without power

risk everything to tell their story

and must.




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