Join the Movement: Disability History and Awareness in the Classroom! Make it Law!

What’s happening?

In 1996 the National Council on Disability released a report, Achieving Independence: The Challenge for the 21st Century” which included a list of recommendations to the President of the United States. This report included the following recommendation in the area of education.

All students should participate in a curriculum that covers:

  • ADA,
  • the history of disability culture,
  • positive attitudes,
  • listening skills,
  • patience,
  • appropriate terminology.


Research in the field of transition shows that exposing youth with disabilities to disability history and culture, connecting them to mentors and role models in the disability community, and teaching them about disability public policy all contribute to them making a successful transition to adulthood.

We know this is not happening. If students learn anything about people with disabilities in school, it is typically framed in a “charity” or “medical” model of disability and not in one that’s intended to help empower and inspire the students. As a result of this, NCLD/Y has been working with youth with disabilities in a number of different states (listed below) who are working to have laws passed that will require schools to teach disability history and awareness in their K-12 public schools during the month of October, which is Disability Employment Awareness Month.