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Access for Everyone

What happens when your wheelchair won't fit in a movie theater or you can't see well enough to cross streets safely? Make a safe, miniature scene that's accessible.

  • Grade 5
    Grade 6
    Grades 7 and 8
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Have students read about people who have disabilities. Students can interview people they know who face challenges with their mobility, hearing, sight, or other capacities. Students discuss what they learned about how they adapt their lives and surroundings to achieve independence. Focus on their abilities and resourcefulness.
    2. In the United States, The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 requires federal and government agencies, as well as private businesses, to make reasonable accommodations (changes to their properties) so that their services are accessible to people with disabilities. Most sidewalks, stores, and stadiums have ramps. Guide dogs are allowed in most restaurants. Elevator floor number signs are also written in Braille. Public restrooms have wheelchair access. Traffic lights signal when to cross with bird songs as well as colored lights. Have students discuss other changes they have noticed.
    3. Make a model of a city street or a building that is accessible.
    4. To make sidewalk, use Crayola® Scissors to cut layers of cardboard. Stack them in the corner of a larger cardboard base. Secure with Crayola School Glue. Build a sidewalk ramp. Glue and air dry.
    5. Use Crayola Washable Window or Gel Markers to draw sidewalk seams and color the sidewalk. Cover a thin strip of paper with Gel marker. Glue to the edge of sidewalk. Air dry.
    6. With Crayola Model Magic, sculpt a traffic signal. Use a drinking straw for extra support if it is on a post. Add a tiny bird on top if you like. Air dry overnight.
    7. Cover the work area with recycled newspaper. Paint the street, traffic signal, and bird using Crayola Washable Paint and Paint Brushes. Air dry.
    8. Make buildings with recycled boxes. Cut construction paper to fit all around them. Create windows and doors by cutting rectangles and squares from colored construction paper. Fold paper to create wide doors that open, store signs, steps, or awnings. Attach with glue. Air dry.
    9. Use Washable Window or Gel Markers to create bricks and building details. Add window trim and signs. Create roofs with construction paper or cardboard (peel off a layer of paper from corrugated cardboard for a rippled roof). Add any other accommodations to make your buildings or street more accessible. Glue on and air dry.
    10. Cut red, green, and yellow traffic lights from construction paper. Glue onto the traffic signal. Air dry.
    11. Use Model Magic to sculpt a person with disabilities who is using the facility. You might make a seeing eye dog and a sight-impaired pedestrian, or someone in a wheelchair or on crutches, for example. Make a collar and leash for the seeing eye dog with chenille sticks.
    12. Display your scene with a title and list of all the accommodations you included.
  • Standards

    LA: Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

    LA: Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

    LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    LA: Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    LA: Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

    SCI: Ask questions about the need or desire to be met in order to define constraints and specifications for a solution.

    SCI: Solve design problems by appropriately applying scientific knowledge.

    SS: Use knowledge of facts and concepts drawn from history, along with elements of historical inquiry, to inform decision-making about and action-taking on public issues.

    SS: Describe how people create places that reflect ideas, personality, culture, and wants and needs as they design homes, playgrounds, classrooms, and the like.

    SS: Give examples of how government does or does not provide for the needs and wants of people, establish order and security, and manage conflict.

    VA: Describe how people's experiences influence the development of specific artworks.

    VA: Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

  • Adaptations

    Students may invite a speaker to share with classmates a typical day in the life of a visually impaired person, or students may have the opportunity to shadow a blind person for a few hours. In a small group, compose questions that you would ask of an organization that trains animals as companions for disabled people. Contact an agency that trains Seeing Eye Dogs through The American Foundation for the Blind and conduct your interview. Write up your findings and prepare a PowerPoint presentation for your classmates. This can be presented as a whole class event or uploaded to a classroom computer for individual or small group viewing.

    Students can invite a mature disabled person to share with classmates what life was like prior to the enactment of The Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. If an in-person meeting is not possible, attempt to Skype with speaker. As follow-up activity to this meeting, students can contemplate what additional accommodations may need to be made during their lifetimes to assure inclusion for all. Students can prepare a panel to go before a mock state legislature or the U.S. Congress to lobby for needed accommodations. The panel's presentation should initially be written in outline form. The presentation can be videotaped and uploaded to a classroom electronic file for viewing and evaluation by peers and faculty.

    Students, individually or in a small group, compose a business letter to their Congressman inquiring about how The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 continues to influence development in their community, county, and /or state.

    Research the life of artist Chuck Close, a well-known artist in the fields of Pop Art and Photo Realism. How did his sudden disability effect his life and work? Write a five paragraph essay summarizing the artist's life, disability, and response to his personal accommodations that allows him to continue leading a productive life.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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