Educator's Equity Companion Guide
Educator's Equity Companion Guide
Members of the student council at Maple Valley Collegiate decide to host their prom at a local banquet hall. The hall is not accessible by wheelchair and Felipe, a student who uses a wheelchair, is angry.
This isn't the first time people who use wheelchairs have been excluded from a school dance. The student council members are surprised by Felipe's complaint. He hears one of them say, "Do people in wheelchairs even dance?"
The council tells Felipe it's too late to change the venue, however they offer to carry him up the stairs when he arrives at the hall, so he can attend the prom.
The student council members have planned an event that meets their own needs and reflects their own identities, but it doesn't meet the needs of all graduating students. The student council is expected to represent and consider the interests of all students, but it has failed to do so in this case.
- What are the stereotypes at play?
- What do you think of the student council's plan to accommodate students with physical disabilities?
- What impact will this plan have on students using wheelchairs?
- How could this plan affect the way other students perceive people who use wheelchairs?
- What could the student council do to make the event accessible?
What Do We Consider a Disability?
There are many definitions of disability. Some disability activists have identified and distinguished between different models of disability to contrast and compare perspectives.
The Medical Model
These are some of the aspects of the medical model of disability:
- The labels "disabled" and "able-bodied" are considered natural, scientific facts.
- People with disabilities are perceived to face challenges mainly because of their own physical or mental impairments.
- Modern medicine is seen as the solution to help individuals overcome the challenges presented by these limitations or impairments.
As defined by the 2005 Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the term disability may include:
- any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device,
- a condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability,
- a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language,
- a mental disorder, or
- an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 ("handicap").
Following this definition, The Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services estimates that 15.5 per cent of Ontario residents live with one or more disabilities.
The Social Model
These are the tenets of the social model of disability:
- Disability is not a medical or natural fact.
- Society creates barriers to access, which effectively "disable" people and construct "impairments" to their full participation.
- For example, a person who is blind experiences a particular set of physical abilities or characteristics. Most institutions-such as schools, hospitals and police stations-do not provide materials in Braille nor do they create env