e d g e - education for disability and gender equity



1 Overview
2 Common Threads
3 EDGE Website
4 Using the Guide
5 Lessons
  5.1 Physics
  5.2 Biology
  5.3 Government
  5.4 Culture
6 Other Resources




Cheryl Marie Wade performing
Cheryl Marie Wade performing her one-woman show, "Sassy Girl"

"Mother 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

Education 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.

Very 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 environments.

Although 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.


Although 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.

2.2.1 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.

2.2.2 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.

2.2.3 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.

2.2.4 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.

2.2.5 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 immediately available.

2.2.6 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.

2.2.7 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 .

2.2.8 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.

Next - Part 2.0 - About the EDGE Web Site

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