History of the Disabilities Right Movement
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History of the Disabilities Right Movement

grades:  High School (9-12) 

Lesson Summary:

From the ADL- Anti Defamation League:

"The purpose of this lesson is for students to examine how past prejudicial attitudes and social exclusion of people with disabilities led to the rise of a nationwide, grassroots movement for the recognition of equal rights, equal access and equal treatment of people with disabilities. Students will consider how ableist assumptions are rooted in past stereotypical portrayals of disability, and will be challenged to reflect on their own assumptions and attitudes towards people with disabilities. Students will also learn about current day issues concerning the disability community, and will work in concert with disability advocates to take action in their own community on a disability rights issue."

This resource is not designed for specifically Jewish audiences, so educators should adapt the materials as they deem fit for their community while addressing the Jewish value of Lifnei Aver and explore the importance of inclusiveness.


  • Students will analyze stereotypical portrayals of people with disabilities in the media from past to present. 
  • Students will consider the influence of age-old stereotypes of people with disabilities on current attitudes today. 
  • Students will examine their attitudes and assumptions towards people with disabilities. 
  • Students will learn about the disability rights movement, and research the role of key leaders and organizations in the movement. 
  • Students will assess the accessibility of their school for the full inclusion of people with disabilities. 
  • Students will learn terminology and communication guidelines on disability. 
  • Students will research current issues facing the disability community, and take action in their community on a disability rights issue.

Be Inspired:The ideas included are offered as starting points as you and your students explore, discover and live the lessons. Be sure to elicit and encourage student and parent participation, consistently reinforcing the value being addressed. Allow lessons to authentically develop and change based on engagement and interests.

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Lesson Contributors

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 "to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all." ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.