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Disability Awareness Workshop

Melanie Dever/Katey Robinson/Steve Wincent/David Yon/Danna Webber

On-site experiential learning workshops where students experience a bit of what it’s like to live with a disability

Students on the 8th grade Summit Team are working on an interdisciplinary project exploring how we can make our community more welcoming to people with disabilities. This is an expanded version of a project we started last year that focused on mobility challenges. The project ties with the Helm competencies of “Kindness and Empathy” and “Initiative”.
The Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living (CIL) offers an on-site workshop where students can:
- Experience navigating the school environment in a wheelchair.
- Experience navigating the school environment with a simulated visual impairment using a cane.
- Measure various aspects of the school environment for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Last year, we piloted a smaller version of this workshop and the feedback from students was overwhelmingly positive. 98 students responded to the post-workshop feedback last year. Student responses from last year are visible in their entirely at

Parents noted that students who went through the workshop made comments and observations at home that demonstrated increased empathy, and transference of learning. One parent emailed the school the following comments:
“I wanted to drop a quick note and thank you and your staff for doing the ADA projects this week. When I picked ***** and his friend up after school they both talked about how much fun they were having. I live with a permanent (disability)… for the first time ever my son said to me, “mom that’s got to be really hard.” I can’t tell you how much it meant to me to hear my son say that because it is really hard. I don’t think he’s ever thought about it before until now.”

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