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We Are People First

Human-Centered Approaches to Teaching About Disabilities

Cultivating disability awareness in your classroom should always include the unique perspectives of people living with physical, cognitive, sensory and mental disabilities so that non-disabled students can understand the injustices this population faces and become effective advocates. This collection of videos, articles and lesson plans can be used to explore disabilities in a way that normalizes and affirms the experiences of medically-diverse people. Many of these resources can be used for a wide range of ages, so this playlist has been organized by type instead of grade level. They can be used on their own or combined to create a cohesive lesson plan.

Disability Sensitivity Training | DC Government

This video uses humor and a touch of satire to challenge how non-disabled people interact with and talk about people with disabilities. Framed as a disability sensitivity training video, this clip provides important tips so that non-disabled people can check their assumptions and be more of a support than a hinderance.

Suggested Grades: 6-12

CASEL Standards: Re-S, Rs-DM, So-A


Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Come Meet Chrissie | PBS Learning Media

In this short clip from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Daniel Tiger meets Chrissie, a girl who used crutches and leg braces to walk. He learns that although they are different in some ways, they are similar in others. In linking to this video, you can also find other clips that explore this topic from the episode.

Suggested Grades: K-2

CASEL Standards: Re-S, So-A

Special Books by Special Kids | Chris Ulmer

Special education teacher Chris Ulmer is sparking a global dialogue about neurodiversity and disability with his YouTube series “Special Books for Special Kids” by introducing his millions of viewers to a medically-diverse group of children and their families. 

Suggested Grades: K-12

CASEL Standards: Re-S, So-A

StoryBooth: Stories from Kids With Disabilities

We’ve featured some animated Storybooth videos in past playlists and this time, we’ve identified clips that feature young people who are living with disabilities, sharing their personal stories of isolation and self-acceptance. 

Click here to view Deaf in a Hearing World 

Click here to view Being a Little Person 

Click here to view Living with ADHD 

Click here to view My Life with CP (Cerebral Palsy)

Suggested Grades: 3-8

CASEL Standards: Re-S, So-A


I’m Not Your Inspiration, Thank You Very Much | TedX

 In Stella Young’s humorous TED talk, she explains why the fact that she uses a wheelchair doesn’t automatically mean she exists to be an inspiration to all. Share this with your students to spark a dialogue about why people with disabilities are often cast as motivational tropes. 

Suggested Grades: 9-12

CASEL Standards: So-A

Things People with Disabilities Wish You Knew | Buzzfeed

Buzzfeed brings together a group of people living with disabilities to dispel some common misconceptions and challenge the viewer’s understanding of what it means to have a disability.

Suggested Grades: 6-12

CASEL Standards: So-A

People with Disabilities Review Characters with Disabilities | Buzzfeed

Authentic representation matters so much, especially for marginalized groups. In this second Buzzfeed clip, a group of people with disabilties weigh in on which fictional characters and actors from contemporary film and television get the thumbs up…or down. 

Suggested Grades: 11-12 (Content Warning for some profanity, reference to “inspiration porn.”)

CASEL Standards: So-A

Disability Etiquette | Teaching Tolerance*

People with disabilities deserve to have their space and autonomy respected, just like everyone else. This article, originally published by Disability Rights and Resources, is an important resource that promotes ways that non-disabled individuals can have mindful interactions with individuals that have disabilities. 

Suggested Grades: 6-12

CASEL Standards: Re-S, Rs-DM, So-A

No Boundaries |

Unfortunately, our world isn’t always accessible for people with disabilities, especially when they have mobility and sensory impairments. By the end of this lesson, students will have taken inventory of their own school to see how their community can take a step towards removing accessibility boundaries. There are suggestions for differentiation within the instructional plan so that students of all ages can take part in the activities. We’ve downloaded the assets used in the lesson for you.

Click here to view Brett Eastburn- No Boundaries

Click here to view Just Like You

Click here to access the Disability Awareness Handout

Suggested Grades: K-12

CASEL Standards: So-A, Re-S, Rs-DM

Disability Awareness Through Language Arts & Literacy | Florida Developmental Disabilities Council

This dynamic curriculum packet uses language arts activities, worksheets and children’s literature to increase awareness and promote empathy. It includes a list of books that are perfect for students to continue their exploration of the topics presented.

Suggested Grades: K-5

CASEL Standards: So-A

Common Core ELA Standards: K.RL.1.1, K.RL.1.2, K.RL.3.7, K.RL.3.9, 1.RL.1, 1.RL.3, 2.RI.1, 2.RI.2, 2.RL.1, 2.RL. 2, 2.W.1, 3.RI.1.1, 3.RI.2.6, 3.RL.1.1, 3.RL.2.5, 3.W.1.2, 3.W.1.3, 4.RL.1.1, 4.RL.1.2, 4.RL.1.3, 4.RL.2.4, 4.W.1.1, 4.W.1.2, 4.W.3.7, 5.RL.1.1, 5.RL.1.2, 5.RL.2.4, 5.W.1.1, 5.W.1.2, 5.W.3.7

disABILITY History Curriculum Packet | Museum of Disability

This series of lesson plans help students to understand how the care and treatment of people with disabilities have changed throughout history. Although this curriculum was created to be aligned with New York state standards, we think these activities are valuable regardless of your location.

Suggested Grades: 4-8

CASEL Standards: Rs-DM, So-A

Understanding Disabilities | Special Olympics

These mini-lessons are meant to help students develop attitudes and behaviors that are respectful toward all students, regardless of ability, by allowing students to reflect on their perceptions and relate to the feelings of frustrations of those with disabilities.

Suggested Grades: 6-8

CASEL Standards: Re-S, Rs-DM, So-A, Se-M

Exploring Disability Through Media | ReadWriteThink

This lesson, curated for National Public Radio’s “Beyond Affliction: The Disability History Project” documentary series, helps students explore aspects of disability by investigating audio transcripts, text transcripts, images, timelines, primary source documents, and interviews. Then they’ll use what they’ve learned to create visual presentations. 

Suggested Grades: 9-12

CASEL Standards: So-A

Common Core ELA Standards:  9-10.RL.11, 9-10.RI.2, 9-10.RI.4, 9-10.W.2, 9-10.W.8, 9-10.SL.1, 9-10.L.4, 11-12.RL.11, 11-12.RI.2, 11-12.RI.4, 11-12.W.2, 11-12.W.8, 11-12.SL.1, 11-12.L.4


Eboni Hogan

Content Specialist

Eboni has extensive experience in curriculum development, with a focus on culturally-responsive and arts-based approaches. Having spent years creating academic content and providing professional development to teachers, she now curates themed playlists meant to provide educators with valuable, time-saving resources.

Teacher Resources

Communicating With and About People With Disabilities | CDC This article explains the concept of people-first language. Like any social group, the views of people with disabilities are not monolithic. In general, we suggest the use of people-first language with the understanding that it is not everyone’s preference. We encourage you to refer to members of your community who have disabilities to get their take.

Connect-Ability Teacher Toolkit | NY State United Teachers 80 interviewees with disabilities were asked questions about how educators can help to address the information gap that prevents non-disabled people from understanding and empathizing with their experiences. The survey identified five important concepts you should be aware of. Read about them here.

Speak Up Against Hateful Rhetoric | Teaching Tolerance* The guide details four steps educators can take to address biased speech when they hear it: interrupting, questioning, educating and echoing.

The Body is Not An Apology Website (Disabilities Articles)The Body Is Not An Apology is an international movement committed to cultivating global Radical Self Love and Body Empowerment. This site features keenly written articles by people with many different kinds of disabilities. While these articles may not be appropriate for younger students, it’s worth a visit if you’d like to expand your own understanding of this topic.

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