DISABILITY & GENDER / COMMON THREADS
FOR TEACHERS USING THE GUIDE
Marie Wade performing her one-woman show, "Sassy Girl"
and Daddy moved to the house while I was in the hospital. I'm sixteen.
It's the time I landed in the wheelchair permanently. Every time
is a visit me, they're raving on and on about the house. This great
new modern one-story house with a huge backyard and I'm so excited,
so jazzed, I can't wait to get home because I'm thinking how great
it's going to be. Not like the old house with all the stairs. I'll
be able to come and go as I please. I'll have all this freedom.
And as we're driving up to the house, the first thing I see: three
stairs. Three goddam stairs."
- Cheryl Marie Wade
for Disability and Gender Equity (EDGE) is a state-of-the-art research
project that designed and developed accessible, multi-media educational
materials in humanities and sciences that inform students about disability
and gender at the high school level. By providing information about
disabled women and men in the context of science, biology, civics, and
culture, students can better understand gender differences and disability
related diversity. The areas of equity most impacted by this project
are: promoting equal access to the sciences and humanities, creation
of positive images and knowledge about people who differ by gender,
race, disability or other characteristics.
little information about girls and women with disabilities is available
for use in the curriculum, classrooms or libraries of high schools.
This lack of resources creates the impression that women and girls with
disabilities do not exist or if they do that their accomplishments and
lives are unimportant. Disabled boys and non-disabled peers and educators
also need this knowledge to reduce stereotyping and improve learning
the content of the EDGE materials focuses specifically on gender and
disability it represents diversity within its representation. This diversity
not only means a range of different occupations and disability types
for men and women but also a range of ages, races, and socio-economic
statuses. Whether they are reading about an African-American professional
baseball player who is deaf or a Hispanic female scientist with a disability,
students will begin to see the contributions of people with disabilities
within their own communities.
some high school curriculums make passing mention of disability and
gender, EDGE offers a more comprehensive view by using the integrated
perspectives of people with and without disabilities. Listening to the
voices of people with disabilities, students can see the commonalities
of our shared experiences. The voices from our shared past can help
us to better articulate current struggles and tensions and thus create
a common future.
What is in this Teacher's Guide?
This Teacher's Guide provides tools for using the EDGE website effectively
and efficiently. It includes lesson plans, orientation to the site,
and suggestions for assisting students in their learning.
Why focus on gender?
Numerous studies show that unless there is a conscious inclusion of
both male and female students in curriculum there is a tendency for
omission. For example, while we were developing the Physics
lesson, we found almost no references or examples that include female
students. The overriding presumption was that only male students would
be interested in a Physics lesson. Yet the topic of "How wheelchairs
work" has been of great interest to both female and male students. At
the other end of the spectrum, topics such as "Culture" are often exclude
male students. But again our testing showed male students very interested
in the topics of media images of people with disabilities.
Why focus on disability?
It is nearly impossible to find any high school curriculum materials
that include either disability information or a disability perspective
- regardless of curriculum area. We wanted to remedy this by infusing
disability into traditional and required curriculum areas. Our testing
repeatedly showed that high school students were extremely interested
in disability and eager to get additional information.
Why focus on high school curriculum?
Students are required to learn basic concepts in order to succeed in
high school. We found that by tying high school curriculum requirements
to information about gender and disability that students were enthusiastic
to learn new information. Students repeatedly told us that learning
the concepts on an interactive website made the information both more
interesting and created a greater retention.
Why does EDGE have hands-on activities?
Students in our testing liked having hands-on activities. They told
us that they learned the concepts we were presenting faster and more
accurately when they could have an activity environment in which to
practice them. They also liked that the answers to the activities were
Why does EDGE have People Resources?
In our research teachers and students repeated tell us that there is
very little information about people with disabilities. They want to
know about people with disabilities, see images of people with disabilities,
and get first-hand information from people with disabilities about their
lives. Students and teachers also told us that it is very important
to have both a wide range of racial groups represented as well as a
diversity of disabilities included.
Why does EDGE have Resources for further learning?
We have found that most students have a particular interest or question
about people with disabilities. Sometimes it is based on wanting to
know more about the disability of someone in their family. Sometimes
it is based on an intellectual curiosity. For whatever reason, all the
students and teachers told us it was important to have an easy way of
finding more information. For this reason, we have included a Resource
section within each lesson area as well as an overall Resources section
on the main page that includes all the individual Resource lesson areas
How can the lessons be used?
Since the EDGE is web-based these lessons can be used in a wide variety
of ways. Some teachers are using them within the classroom. Other teachers
are giving students the option of using EDGE as homework. Still other
teachers are encouraging students to use EDGE as a basis for a classroom
assignment or for extra credit. Many students are finding the site through
our general outreach efforts and are using EDGE to further their personal
knowledge. In addition to hot links within the text each lesson also
includes a glossary of terms.
- Part 2.0 - About the EDGE Web Site