Lesson Plan

Understanding and Challenging Ableism

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Army Sgt. Jerrod Fields, an Army World Class Athlete Program sprinter and Paralympic hopeful, works out at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA. A below-the-knee amputee, Fields won a gold medal in the 100 meters with a time of 12.15 seconds at the Endeavor Games in Edmond, OK, on June 13, 2009.

GRADE LEVEL: Middle School, High School

COMMON CORE STANDARDS: Reading, Speaking and Listening, Language

Nearly one in five (19%) people in the United States are living with a disability. Disabilities can be physical or cognitive, visible or invisible, severe or minor. Ableism, which is bias or discrimination against people with disabilities, can take many forms, including: employment, housing and other institutional discrimination; lack of accessibility on streets, buildings and public transportation; stereotyping and ableist language, lack of media portrayals or stereotyped depictions of people with disabilities; bullying; low expectations, isolation and pity. While ableism is not often discussed when we talk about our identities and bias, it is important that students understand and reflect on examples of ableism in their own lives and in society because it contributes to a culture of intolerance and injustice.

This lesson provides an opportunity for students to understand what ableism is and the many ways it manifests, reflect on specific examples of ableism and categorize them, and consider ways they can be allies and take actions to confront and challenge ableism.