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Bringing Disability into FAIR Act Implementation: Going Beyond Helen Keller and FDR

While the California FAIR Act included the requirement that K-12 curriculum incorporate disability history, educators still lack materials to support them in this area, leading many disability historians to fear that all students are getting is Helen Keller and FDR. The presentation will introduce some of the core themes worth exploring in disability history, as well as the opportunities for approach, whether one sneaks disability into existing lessons or develops new curriculum that centers on disability, but connects to broader social science themes. For example, we will look at how World War II lessons might incorporate a brief look at the Hiroshima Maidens, Japanese women who were deeply stigmatized as their bodies, covered in Keloid scars, showed the aftermath of the bomb. We will also look at the San Francisco Section 504 sit-in , where disabled people occupied a Federal Building to demand that the first disability civil rights legislation take effect, a lesson that really dives deep into disability, but also supports more traditional lessons about how legislation takes effect, how social change happens, and how social movements build upon one another. The session will include accessible media and recommended exercises to provide educators with new tools for incorporating disability into their classrooms. 

Presentation Team:

  • Emily Beitiks, Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability, San Francisco State University