Disability History and Awareness Weeks

Disability History and Awareness Weeks

By: Rachel Goldstein

On June 13, 2008, in large part due to the advocacy efforts of Rachel Goldstein
Florida Youth Council, Governor Crist signed into law Senate Bill 856, creating section 1003.4205 of the Florida Statutes, entitled “Disability History and Awareness Instruction”. This law requires school districts to designate the first two weeks of October as “Disability History and Awareness Weeks” and gives the school districts discretion to determine how the history and awareness activities will be provided. The law promotes providing instruction for students in public schools to expand their knowledge, understanding, and awareness of individuals with disabilities, the history of disability, and the disability rights movement.

According to this law, the goals of disability history and awareness instruction include:

(a)  Better treatment for individuals with disabilities, especially for youth in school, and increased attention on preventing the bullying or harassment of students with disabilities.

(b)  Encouragement for individuals with disabilities to develop increased self-esteem, resulting in more individuals with disabilities gaining pride in being an individual with a disability, obtaining postsecondary education, entering the workforce, and contributing to their communities.

(c)  Reaffirmation of the local, state, and federal commitment to the full inclusion in society of, and the equal opportunity for, all individuals with disabilities.

This law is an important step in the promotion of further understanding and awareness of disability history, the disability rights movement and inclusion of persons with disabilities. By integrating disability history and awareness into the school curriculum a youthful audience is being reached, which will hopefully help to change societal attitudes and misconceptions about individuals with disabilities. It is my hope that the goals of Disability History and Awareness Instruction are reinforced throughout the school districts on a year-round basis in order to effectuate meaningful change.

The Miami Foundation is having their 3rd annual Give Miami Day on November 20, 2014.  The event starts at midnight on November 20th and lasts for 24 hours. Disability Independence group will be a part of this amazing event.  Support DIG and join the movement.  http://givemiamiday.org/#npo/disability-independence-group-inc