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Lesson Plan: How do People With Disabilities Function on a Daily Basis?

written by: Marlene Gundlach • edited by: Benjamin Sell • updated: 4/5/2012

This lesson will further help students empathize with disabled people by helping them understand how it is they complete everyday actions.

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    Help students understand how people with disabilities function on a daily basis. The lesson will give them an opportunity to experience what it might be like to complete tasks while having a disability.

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    Tools for Disabled Individuals

    To have a disability means a person is unable to use certain parts of the body. This does not necessarily mean that they can't dowheelchair  things that everyone else can do. It just means that sometimes they need special tools to help them accomplish tasks. Discuss the tools below and how they might be used to help a disable person complete daily tasks.

    • Crutches/walker: These are used to help someone walk. It can make weak legs or backs stronger so that they can eventually have an easier time walking alone.
    • Wheelchair: This is used to help someone who can't walk get around.
    • Seeing-Eye Dog and Cane: These tools help someone who can't see get around more independently.
    • Sign Language: A method where people talk with their hands. This is used by people who can not talk, either due to a lack of hearing or problems with their voice.
    • Glasses: This helps people with weak eyes to see better.

    There are many more tools available to disabled persons today, so many children will have seen many of these items. Talk about instances where they have seen these items, or ask if they know someone who uses a tool like the ones above. By connecting people with the tools, you make it about the individual and not the tool. The key to dealing with things that are different is to learn more about it, making it more comfortable. We should be interested in a person with a disability because of who they are, not the tools they use.

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    Here are some activities, broken down by specific disability, that can help children become more comfortable with the tools used by disabled individuals.

    Imapired Vision

    1. Obtain a braille alphabet card from a local group that serves disabled individuals. Let the class feel the letters and get an understanding of what it is like to read Braille. Find a book about Louis Braille and share his story about how he invented Braille.
    2. Share with the class how a seeing eye dog is used. If there is a group in your community that trains seeing eye dogs, invite a guest speaker to share with the class how the dogs are trained and what types of services they provide to the vision imapired.

    Impaired Hearing

    1. Discuss with children how they think a deaf person hears the telephone or how to they talk with someone on the telephone. Explain that they may use a Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD). The downfall is that the person on the other end of the phone also needs a TDD. Today, with text-messaging, there are other options.
    2. Have children pretend they are hearing impaired and try and communicate with a partner. In advance, write out slips of paper with short ideas or phrases that the children will read and try and share through their own sign language. The partner then can answer the question verbally to see if the communication has worked. Some sample phrases include:
    • Do you want to go outside?
    • I like your shirt?
    • Can I borrow a pencil?
    • Where is the drinking fountain?
    • What is your favorite food?

    Impaired Mobility

    1. Ask children what types of signs are used to help those with impaired mobility and where they are found. Include handicapped parking spaces, signs for cars, ramps, or special stalls in the bathroom.