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Disability Justice in Education: Confronting Disability Myths

    For the June First Thursday Webinar hosted by the National Network for Educational Renewal (NNER), the focus was on what disability justice looked like in education. Wyoming School-University Partnership (WSUP) Coordinator Sean Moran spoke about his professional, scholastic, and personal relationship with the idea of disability justice in education.

    The presentation focused on a disability studies framework wherein disabled voices are a key piece to the conversation. In this presentation, the focus was on narrative work that had been done by the speaker as well as on the rhetoric that is often used when discussing disability in education settings. Multiple myths were discussed as well as the truths that are often mentioned by disabled voices as being overlooked or denied. One myth mentioned in the presentation was that Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) give an unfair advantage to students with disabilities or that the students do not want to work as hard as those students without disabilities. This type of myth can be perpetuated by students and teachers alike but does not recognize the experiences of those living with disabilities. By minimizing the student’s needs and the importance of accommodations, students with disabilities can feel as though they are not welcome to ask for IEPSs or concerned about potential consequences. As with the other myths mentioned in the presentation, often these myths affect disabled students in regard to self-worth, belonging, and opportunity access.

    Throughout the presentation, the speaker gave a list of activities and disability-focused articles that could be used for people to teach themselves or others about disability perceptions. Toward the end, the focus then turned to actionable items that professionals could take back to their educational setting to better assist students with disabilities or create a more disability-minded student community. One activity mentioned was incorporating disability history into the classroom as often students are not aware of the non-violent protests that took place before the Americans with Disabilities Act or the reality of institutionalization in the United States. Through incorporation of disability topics in history or in literature, students can better understand what different experiences could look like for those who appeared or functioned differently.

    The last section focused on sharing resources about disability studies and disability rights organizations so that the educational professionals could take something meaningful back to their settings. In this portion, there was also mention of books that could be shared if educators wanted to incorporate disabled voices into their classroom literary options. During this section, the group also came together to discuss some of the work they are already doing regarding disability. At the end of it, members were able to share what they were hoping to take back to their students and professionals concerning disability justice and inclusion.

    If you would like to receive the materials from the presentation, you can review them at the Disability Justice in Education GoogleDrive. The full video can be seen at the following link: Disability Justice in Education Video. For more information on the next First Thursday webinar, please check out the WSUP Facebook Page.

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Phone: 307-766-3274

Email: partnership@uwyo.edu

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