A teacher at the 23rd elementary school of Lamia, Greece,  sent us this feedback on her work with children aged 11-12 using material provided by the Disabled Access Friendly campaign.  You can see the original version in Greek on the school's blog:



School year: 2011-2012
Grade: 6
Subject: English  
Topic: Access for people with mobility disability
Published by the 23rd Elementary School of Lamia, Greece
on 20 February, 2012

The goal of the lesson was to raise awareness about the needs of people with mobility disability and provide students with a guide on appropriate interaction with people with physical disabilities.

The tool for this was adaptation of lesson plans provided by the Disabled Access Friendly campaign at www.disabled-accessfriendly.com.

The materials used were

1.    A guide in Greek and English with 8 tips on how to behave towards people with mobility disability
2.    Survey of possible jobs for people with physical disabilities
3.    Naming of famous people with mobility disability
4.    Article on wheelchair etiquette (discussion and translation)
5.    Narration of thoughts of a wheelchair user

After completion of the unit, students completed a questionnaire to assess the value of the lesson plan. Listed below are only two of the eight questions and the responses. Not all responses are listed because many responses were similar.
"What new information did you learn from this teaching unit?"
Sample answers
•    I know how to greet a person with physical disabilities without offending him.
•    It is difficult for people with physical disabilities to move.
•    I should not ask a person with physical disabilities how the disability came about.
•    I should not put a person with disabilities on the spot or offend him/her.
•    Yes, I learned some things, such as when I am speaking to a person with disabilities I should not stand too close to him/her or right on top of him/her.
•    I learned how to interact with people with disabilities.
•    Yes, I learned that when interacting with a person with physical disabilities, I should not ask questions or make comments about the disability.
•    Yes, I learned that I should not ask a person with a physical disability intrusive and upsetting questions such as ‘How did it happen?
•    I realized that it is not fair for some people to have disabilities because the disabilities limit their activities.
•    I learned that I should not ask about the cause of the disabilitiy because this can be upsetting to the person.

"Did you improve your knowledge of English with these activities and, if so, how?"
Sample answers
•    Yes, I learned to read a little better.
•    I think I improved my knowledge by learning new words and new expressions.
•    Yes, a lot.
•    Yes, because I learned words I did not know.
•    Yes, because many texts were in English, we translated some texts, and this was very good.

(TOTAL: 16 students, RESPONSES: 12: YES; 4: NO)

When in September 2010 I read an article, ‘Wheelchair Etiquette’ by Paul Shaw in the foreign language newspaper, The Lion's Voice, Issue 5, I felt very ignorant about important issues faced by people with physical disability. I realized that out of ignorance you could unintentionally embarrass or offend a person with disabilities.

Shocked by the phrase "You can be sure that nobody uses a wheelchair by choice." and the comment on a radio broadcast "We are all potentially disabled", I realized that everything we take for granted can be reversed in a second. I considered the demand of people with disabilities to have access to facilities available to all a basic right and society’s support in facilitating this right an obligation by all.

Ever since I read the above article I wanted to do something with my students to inform them on this subject, raise their awareness about the needs of people with mobility disability, and develop their social skills using the English language as a tool. I kept putting off making any concrete plans, however, because of the age of the pupils, the language level of the article and lack of adequate teaching time.

However, as December 3rd, World Disabled Day, approached, I decided to put my thoughts in action and prepare some activities based on the above article for my class. This was an opportunity to use English as the means to discuss, think, and learn about proper behaviour towards people with disabilities.

I think that the comments of the students recorded above show that we achieved our goals. I think that if they meet people with disabilities they will be prepared to interact with them appropriately. At the same time they improved their use of the English language.

I would also like to add that the article by Paul Shaw and many other interesting texts in English and Greek are accessible on the DISABLED ACCESS FRIENDLY site: www.disabled-accessfriendly.com.

I am pleased because we were able to approach this important issue with the 6th grade students. I feel certain that the discussions, concerns and activities of the programme contributed to the students becoming socially aware and responsible citizens.

The proposal of the founders of the DISABLED ACCESS FRIENDLY campaign to submit this project to the "Excellence and Innovation in Education" programme of the Greek Ministry of Education is the highest praise and reward for this effort.

In closing, I want to say that I am in total agreement with the
DISABLED ACCESS FRIENDLY campaign slogan ‘The best schools have always done more than just prepare students for tests. They raise awareness of the world in which we live and try to make it a better place.’.

Yianna Yiakovi
Teacher of English