Forward for Include!

K-12 Disability Studies Curriculum

The Vermont Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) is pleased and proud to introduce its Include! curriculum, designed for grades K-12. Originally titled “PRIDE: Promoting Respect and Inclusion through Disability Studies Education,” Include! is a comprehensive rewrite designed to meet the needs of present-day culture and society.

The SILC conceived this project more than 10 years ago, understanding the need for a well-designed teaching tool to assist educators in enlightening students of many ages about the rightful need for inclusion of people with disabilities in mainstream life, as well as the need for acceptance and due respect. Intended for use by many elementary, middle and secondary schools in the state, it has met with mixed success. The core elements have been praised; logistical factors, however, have precluded widespread dissemination.

The rewrite has been researched and crafted for the SILC in large part by nationally-noted and highly-respected disability advocate and educator Deborah Lisi-Baker. It displays the curriculum electronically, allowing ready use by educators and students alike. It also facilitates teaching and learning by using a modular format, thus allowing appropriate and timely selection of particular units and sections.

New material has been added; older material has been updated. New sections and themes have been inserted. For example, to address present-day needs, a “bullying” component, threading through the curriculum, has been developed to further enhance its usefulness. In addition, the curriculum has been brought up to date with incorporation of new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.

The rewrite is replete with images of many kinds to ensure that the teaching and learning experience is as rich and fulfilling as possible. Of course, every attempt has been made to make this rewrite accessible to all, in keeping with the overarching theme of inclusion.

The reader should make note that “Promoting Respect and Inclusion through Disability Studies Education” has been retained as a subtitle for Include! as it succinctly states what the curriculum embodies. (The title itself was changed to avoid confusion with other global advocacy movements and to impart a distinctive header.)

The SILC thinks it critically important to have developed this teaching tool, one that has the potential of being utilized not only within the state of Vermont – historically in the forefront of disability rights and independent living – but also nationwide. The council will promote and follow the use of Include! as it gains acceptance among both educators and students. We welcome your suggestions and contributions.

Enjoy your journey as you learn about the history of the civil rights and disability rights movements. Become enlightened and be proud!

Sam Liss

Chairperson, Vermont SILC