This lesson plan has been adapted from The Museum of disABILITY. It uses A Picture Book of Helen Keller by David A. Adler to help students appreciate the story of Helen Keller and how she learned to communicate and to identify what an advocate is and how advocates help people with disabilities.
- To appreciate the story of Helen Keller and how she learned to communicate
- To identify what an advocate is and how advocates help people with disabilities
- A Picture Book of Helen Keller by David A. Adler with illustrations by John and Alexandra Wallner
- Glossary of terms
- ELA Standard 1: Language for Information and Understanding
- SS Standard 1: History of the United States and New York
- Teachers can view The Inside Scoop about Hearing Impairments , The Inside Scoop about Visual Impairments and Blindness and the Education and Advocacy wings of the Museum of disABILITY’s website to gain background information.
- Selections from the website may be viewed by the students online or copies of those pages may be printed for student use.
- Discuss blindness and deafness and how they affect people’s lives. Ask students questions to aid them in thinking about their own perceptions of deafness and blindness such as:
- How would you feel if you were deaf?
- Would you be able to go to this school if you were blind?
- What extra things would you need if you were deaf?
- Would you want people to treat you differently if you were blind and deaf?
- Discuss ways people who are blind or deaf can communicate. A Venn Diagram could help illustrate these different ways of communication, especially since Helen Keller falls in the middle. For younger students, this can be teacher led on the board or handed out as a worksheet for grades already familiar with Venn Diagrams and who have covered what blind and deaf mean.
- Give students some background about Helen Keller, including the time period and where she was from.
- Explain what an advocate is. An advocate is a person who supports or works for a particular cause or group.
- Read and discuss A Picture Book of Helen Keller by David A. Adler.
- Ask students to describe how Helen Keller learned to communicate.
- Share some of the history of how people who are blind or deaf were taught, specifically the New York Institute for the Blind in Batavia and St. Mary’s School for the Deaf in Buffalo, by using the Education section of the Museum of disABILITY History website or the website pages provided.
- Ask students to describe ways Helen Keller was an advocate for people who were blind or deaf.
- Share some of the history of advocacy by using the Advocacy section of the Museum of disABILITY History website or the website pages provided.
- Ask students to think of ways they could be advocates and have them draw or list their ideas on the “I Can Be an Advocate Too!” Worksheet.
- The last line of the book says “But most of all, Helen Keller brought hope and love to millions of handicapped people.” What do you think that means? Please also explain that “handicapped” is a word that was once used to describe someone who had a physical disability and that today we use the term “people with disabilities.”
For historical accuracy and to illustrate changing views of society, words and language used in different eras are part of The Museum of disABILITY’s website and lessons. No offense is intended toward people with disabilities, their families or advocates.
This lesson plan is from the Museum of disABILITY history, view it HERE