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					Famous People with Disabilities Activity
  1. Ask for 6 volunteers. Tell them that they will be temporarily assuming new
     identities. This will require them to read a short paragraph aloud in front of the
     class to introduce themselves. DO NOT REVEAL THE TRUE IDENTITY OF
     EACH “FAMOUS PERSON” TO THE CLASS OR TO THE VOLUNTEERS UNTIL
     THE END OF THE ACTIVITY.

  2. Ask the volunteers to come to the front; give them each a card and give them a
     minute to look over their card before reading it to the class.

  3. Ask each volunteer to “introduce” themselves by reading the card they’ve been
     given. Ask each volunteer to remain standing in front of the class during
     discussion – volunteers can contribute to discussion also.

  4. After each volunteer reads, lead a brief discussion with the following suggested
     questions: How would you feel about this student being in your classroom? Do
     you think this student will be successful – why or why not? What would this
     student need to be successful (types of supports, etc.)?

  5. After all have been “introduced” lead a general discussion by asking the following
     types of questions: What did all of these students have in common? Who would
     you feel most comfortable having in your classroom; least comfortable? Why?
     What is each student’s prognosis for academic success? Will they be successful
     if they don’t have the supports you’ve suggested? Etc. . . .

  6. Reveal the true identity of each by introducing each volunteer by their full name.
     For example say, “All of the information you’ve been told about these individuals
     is true, but now I’d like you to know a little more about each of these individuals
     we’ve just met and discussed.” Then introduce each by their full name,
     dismissing the volunteers to take their seat with the class as each is
     introduced.

  7. Follow-up with a discussion using the following questions: Were you surprised to
     learn the true identities of these individuals? Why or why not? Do you think
     these individuals had the types of supports you suggested they would need to be
     successful? How is it that they were able to achieve and accomplish the things
     for which they have become so “famous?” Etc.

     Obviously, not every student with a disability who you may have in your future
     classrooms will become famous or achieve what these individuals have
     accomplished, but as teachers it’s extremely important to realize that this
     potential may exist in ALL students. The teachers of these individuals could not
     foresee their future accomplishments – and most thought they would amount to
     “nothing.” However, teachers must remain open-minded and be careful not to
     make negative assumptions about students, with or without disabilities.
     Teachers need to look for and nurture the abilities, not just see the disability.
             The word “disability” should be spelled: disABILITY.
Cut and paste each paragraph on a note card for use with this activity.


My name is Al. When I was in elementary school, my teachers labeled me “retarded.”
I think that was because my speech was really hard to understand. I didn’t really learn
to speak until I was about four years old, and now reading is very difficult for me. I’ve
been expelled from school because of my “rebellious attitude” and the negative effect it
was having on my classmates. This doesn’t really bother me though, because I hate
school anyway! I know I’ll have to go back to school, because I’m only15, but I intend to
drop out as soon as I turn sixteen.




My name is Tom. I come from a poor family of seven children. Although I’m only
twelve years old, I already have a reputation as a troublemaker. I can’t help it; I like to
play pranks on my brothers and sisters! I also like to play with fire. Once, by accident
of course, I set my uncle’s barn on fire! When I first started elementary school, my
teachers told my parents that I was “unable to learn.” They thought I was retarded. My
mother, who is a teacher herself, was so upset by this that she withdrew me from public
school and taught me at home. It wasn’t until several years later that it was discovered
that I had a hearing loss, which probably explains why I didn’t do well in elementary
school. Now that I’m old enough to begin 7th grade, my mom and I think I’m ready to
return to public school.




I’m Steve. I have always been considered very bright and have excelled academically,
but I also have a physically disabling disease that resulted in a degenerative and
incurable deterioration of the spinal cord and skeletal muscles. Although my disease
seems to have stabilized, it has severely affected my speech and my ability to walk. I
use a motorized wheelchair that I am able to control by the pressure of my left hand, the
only limb that still has some movement mobility. When I read, I have to use an
automatic page-turner, as I am unable to hold a book. My speech is understandable
only to those who know me well. All of my writing must be done through dictation. My
goal is to graduate high school and go on to college.




I’m Raymond. I’m thirteen years old now, but when I was about five years old I began
losing my vision. By the time I was seven I had lost all vision, so my parents sent me to
a special school for the blind. My parents think I will be better prepared for college if I
leave the special school to attend the regular middle school and then high school, but
I’m really afraid of how I’ll fit in with the other kids.
My name is Ellie. I’m very shy. I guess you could say that I’m a “loner” so I don’t have
many friends. My teachers describe me as an extremely shy and withdrawn student.
I’m very self-conscious because other kids tease me and call me ugly. My mother was
very pretty and sometimes I think even she was embarrassed to admit that I was her
daughter. I think she thought I was ugly too. I never felt much support form my
teachers or my parents. My father was an alcoholic and both of my parents died when I
was very young. So I’m now living with my grandmother. I’m in fifth grade.




My name is Karen. I attended a parochial elementary school where the nuns thought I
was either mentally retarded or just plain dumb. My spelling was atrocious.
I dropped out of high school and eventually ended up on drugs. To support myself I’ve
worked a variety of jobs; I worked as a bricklayer, bank teller, and, after graduating form
cosmetology school, a licensed cosmetician. Now I’ve decided I want to complete my
GED.




Albert Einstein
Thomas Edison
Stephen Hawking
Ray Charles
Eleanor Roosevelt
Whoopi Goldberg

				
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