The Bill

Disability History and Awareness Weeks

Senate Bill 856

The purpose of this bill is to designate the first two weeks of October as Disability History and Awareness Weeks, and to provide students and the public with the opportunity to learn about the rich history and many contributions of people with disabilities.

Each public school shall provide instruction on disability history, people with disabilities and the disability rights movement. The instruction shall be integrated into the existing school curriculum in a manner such as, but not limited to, supplementing existing lesson plans, holding school assemblies or providing other appropriate activities. The instruction may be delivered by qualified school personnel or by knowledgeable guest speakers.

The provisions of this bill are not intended to create a burden, financial or otherwise, for public schools or teachers.

This Legislation will have the following positive outcomes:

  1. Better treatment for people with disabilities in society, especially for youth in school
  2. Increased attention to preventing the bullying or harassment of students with disabilities
  3. Exposure to Disability History and Awareness that will lead to students becoming more likely to hire, retain, and promote people with disabilities as employees once they become adults.
  4. Increased self-esteem and pride among persons with disabilities, resulting in more of them going to college, entering the workforce, and contributing to their communities.
  5. Commitment to the full inclusion in society or all individuals with disabilities.

 

For additional information contact our Youth Advisor, Natasha Germain, at (850) 224-4670 or e-mail her at ngermain@familycafe.net.

 

Providing Context: Why Disability Awareness Matters

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was founded on four principles: inclusion, full participation, economic self-sufficiency, and equality of opportunity for all people with disabilities. HB 91/SB 856 supports and promotes all four of those principles.

There are other compelling reasons to teach Disability History and Awareness:

  • The United States Census reports that as of 2000, there are 3,274,566 people with disabilities in the state of Florida out of a total population of 15,982,378, meaning 20% of Floridians have a disability.
  • Nation Center for Education Statistics reported that in 2002 there were 379,609 students with disabilities in Florida K-12 education system, roughly 20% of the student body.
  • Students in Florida K-12 public schools are required by state law to learn about the civil rights movement in class; the inclusion of persons with disabilities is also a civil rights issue and should be taught as such.
  • Research has shown that students with disabilities have a harder time fitting in with their peers, making friends, and becoming involved in school and community based activities and clubs; HB 91/SB 856 provides a remedy to that.
  • Emphasizing the contributions of Americans with disabilities throughout history will lead to increased awareness and appreciation of people with disabilities and equal member of society.
  • Disability History legislation has already been enacted in Idaho, North Carolina and West Virginia