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Volume 11, Number 6
November/December 1995

Awareness Programs Help Change Students' Attitudes Towards Their Disabled Peers

 

Getting in has gotten easier; fitting in hasn't." So reads a poster from the Easter Seals' Friends Who Care curriculum, a program designed to teach elementary school kids about disabilities—what they are, what the range of abilities can be within a particular disability, and what it feels like to live with a disability.

As the poster suggests, although millions of children with disabilities are now being integrated into regular classrooms, boys and girls still avoid schoolmates who seem different. "We're still a long way from fully accepting people with disabilities as people, and seeing them as individuals who have something to offer as students, friends, employees, and volunteers in our communities," says Sandy Gordon, a former special education teacher and designer of Friends Who Care.

Researchers agree that attitudes need to be changed. "Many people with disabilities believe that the greatest barriers to full participation in society are not their disabilities or inaccessible buildings, but, rather, biased attitudes of and treatment by nondisabled persons," says Robert Donaldson of Washington State University. Indeed, seeing how rudely her special education students were treated by able-bodied peers and even by teachers is what first inspired Gordon to create a disability awareness curriculum.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.

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For Further Information

For Further Information

Friends Who Care. National Easter Seal Society, 230 Monroe St., Chicago, IL 60606.

The Kids on the Block, 9385-C Gerwig Lane, Columbia, MD 21046.

KIDS Project, 75 DeSoto, San Francisco, CA 94127.

Cory Moore. A Reader's Guide for Parents of Children with Mental, Physical or Emotional Disabilities, 3rd ed. Available from Special Needs Project (see below).

National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities, P.O. Box 1492, Washington, DC 20013.

New Friends. Chapel Hill Training Outreach Project, 800 Eastown Dr., Suite 105, Chapel Hill, NC 27514.

Some Ways the Same, Some Ways Different. The Children's Museum Kits Program, 300 Congress St., Boston, MA 02210.

Special Needs Project, 3463 State St., #282, Santa Barbara, CA 93105.

Understanding Handicaps of Newton, 100 Walnut St., Newtonville, MA 02160.