Happy Wednesday, division 4 families!
Today we enjoyed a powerful and engaging presentation by representatives from LEAD (Lived Experiences Around Disability).
Students learned about the importance of people-first language and heard about strategies and technologies used by people with disabilities, such as blindness, hearing loss, and mobility issues.
Through stories, modelling and hands-on participation, our presenters opened up a window into challenging aspects of life that some people with disabilities encounter.
For example, some student volunteers were tasked with a sequence of steps like tearing a piece of paper and writing a word with a pencil—but they had to do the tasks while wearing mittens.
Debriefing the activity, our students reflected on how frustrating it can be to not have the accessibility tools you need to get a job done. It was a powerful exercise that fostered empathy.
A key takeaway was that most disabilities are not visible. Instead of making assumptions or applying labels to people who may have disabilities, it is better to be caring and curious. For example, it can be rude or hurtful to ask, “What happened to you? Do you have (condition XYZ)?” These kinds of questions are especially harmful in cases when they force someone to explain or relive a trauma they encountered. By contrast, our presenters explained that it is preferable to ask questions like, “How has it been navigating accessibility issues?” and “What could I do to support you right now?”
We reflected on the fact that all of us face challenges of some type at some point. We all know people who benefit from our kind and patient support. The students discussed how our society is better and stronger as a whole when we make an effort to be sensitive to peoples’ feelings and be alert to ways we can be allies to people who have disabilities.
This experience also meaningfully extended the learning we have been doing in Science around the five senses—building appreciation for the nuanced work our other senses can do to compensate when one sense is impacted.
It was inspiring today to see and hear of examples of people with courage and creativity who are adapting to their challenges and complex surroundings.