Lesson 2

What is a Disability?

Timing: 2–5 x 45 minute blocks

CROSS-CURRICULAR: Language Arts, Sciences


OVERVIEW: This lesson focuses on developing an understanding of the different types of disabilities.

Students will:

  • identify and understand three general categories of disabilities: intellectual, physical and sensory
  • develop an in-depth understanding of some of the different types of physical disabilities


Teaching Activities

  1. With the class, explain there are three general categories of disabilities: intellectual, physical and sensory. Brainstorm examples of all of them. Hand out and have the students complete the Disability Worksheet, which involves identifying and listing intellectual, physical and sensory disabilities.
  2. In partners or small groups review the Petro Canada Paralympic Schools Program. Click on the “People with Disabilities” icon. In this section, view the multimedia lesson on Specific Disabilities. This highlights athletes with physical disabilities, visual impairments and intellectual disabilities and shows them involved in sport.
  3. Individually have the students complete the Disability Word Search and Disability Crossword Puzzle.
  4. Choose one of the following topics to research and represent through a variety of mediums (e.g. oral: presentation, live interview; video; print: report, written report, brochure, newspaper article, comic book; visual/fine arts: poster; drama etc):
    • one intellectual, physical or sensory disability
    • life with a disability. Choose a disability and think about what things would be different in your life. In what sports would you choose to compete? Why?
    • the sports in which athletes with a disability can play and compete
    • the first World Stoke Mandeville Wheelchair Games, founded by Sir Ludwig Guttman, in England, in 1948 
    • the Paralympic Games 
    • an athlete with a disability. Interview an athlete and make sure you have some knowledge of who your athlete is and prepare your questions prior to the interview. Share your interview.