DO-IT Show and Tell

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A promising practice for first graders

In elementary school, "show and tell" activities provide opportunities for both fun and learning. Typical show and tell sessions let students share their experiences and introduce children to the different perceptions, environments, and interests of their fellow classmates. DO-IT Show and Tell expands on the theories and practices of traditional show and tell activities. This publication shares how this promising practice was developed and implemented by the DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) Center at the University of Washington in Seattle.

DO-IT Show and Tell acquaints youngsters with people who have disabilities and way cool technology. The show and tell experience helps children develop positive attitudes and perceptions of people with disabilities, develop problem-solving skills, and experience how people with disabilities use computers and perform day-to-day tasks. Project staff collaborates with elementary teachers to bring a presenter with a disability, usually a successful college student who has a disability, into a first grade classroom.

During the visit, the presenter shares information about his or her disability, sets up problem-solving activities in which the children participate, answers questions, and demonstrates his or her technology. For example, Imke Durre, a postdoctoral student at the University of Washington, brought along her computer that talks. Since Imke is blind, she does not require the use of a monitor. Instead, she uses a refreshable Braille display and speech output. The children loved to hear her computer talk. She also demonstrated how she uses a cane for mobility and brought along a child-size cane for the children to try. She showed them the alphabet in Braille and produced each child's name in Braille for them to keep. Imke was paid a small stipend for her participation and a volunteer provided transportation.

DO-IT encourages schools and other organizations to replicate this successful practice. Teachers can contact local high school counselors to locate a speaker for their class. Or, they could contact Easter Seals, Community Services for the Blind, or other organizations for assistance in locating the speaker.

Implementation Steps

Before the Visit

A first grade teacher who wants to host a DO-IT Show and Tell and a DO-IT staff member schedule the visit. The teacher gives the DO-IT staff member the first names of all of the students in the class so that they can be produced in Braille; selects a student to act as the question selector who will call on students who have their hands raised; and selects a student to introduce the presenter. The DO-IT staff member/presenter Brailles each child's name on a small card. A sighted person writes the child's name on his/her card as well. Arrangements are made for transportation and for a stipend for the presenter.

During the Visit

Below is an example of a DO-IT Show and Tell experience offered by a presenter who is blind, Imke Durre. Presentations vary depending on the interests of the children.

After the Visit

Children are encouraged to take their Brailled name card home and share with their families what they learned at DO-IT Show and Tell. A popular post-visit activity is for the teacher to have the children write thank you notes to the presenter. In the case of Imke, they were asked to explore ways to make at least part of the note in a tactile format so Imke could experience it without assistance. First graders have great fun with this activity!

Reports from the Field

Imke reports the following insightful and often humorous responses from Show and Tell participants.

Thought-provoking questions:

"Can you see with your eyes closed?"
"How does it feel to be blind?"
"How do you go to the bathroom?"
"How do you sit down?"
"What do you do on a diving board?"

Interesting conversations that have occurred during Show and Tell activities:

Presenter: "If I can't see, how do you think I can read?"
Answers from participants:
"You could try to see."
"You could peek a little."
"You could get glasses."
"You should try harder."

Presenter: "Since I can't drive, how do you think I get around?"
First Child: "You could take a dinosaur."
Second child: "No, they're not alive anymore; they're extinct."

Some quotations taken from thank you notes written by the children:

"I learned blind people can get jobs."
"I'll bet you'll be a famous blind person."
"I learned blind people can go to school."
"We learned we should be nice and we shouldn't laugh at them."
"I learned that blind people can't see."
"I never knew there was such a thing as the Braille typewriter."
"I thought how you make periods and capital letters was cool."
"Being able to use the cane was fun."
"I think you should do it to other classes."
"I wish you were my teacher."
"I enjoyed the story Miss Nelson is Missing."
"We learned that blind people could read by touching those dots."
"We learned that blind people get around with a cane."
"We learned how blind people crossed the street."
"You taught me how you get around."
"I learned that you can fold your cane."
"I learned that you can live by yourself."
"I learned that blind people use Braille to read."
"I learned some people have a guide dog and some people have a walking stick."
"I really liked how you explained the pattern of Braille."
"I never thought I could learn so much about blind people."
"Thank you for teaching us what it's like to be blind."
"Your life must not be easy."
"I bet it's hard to be a blind human."
"I don't think it's funny to be blind."
"I like you and nobody's going to stop me!"


About DO-IT

DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) serves to increase the successful participation of individuals with disabilities in challenging academic programs such as those in science, engineering, mathematics, and technology. Primary funding for DO-IT is provided by the National Science Foundation, the State of Washington, and the U.S. Department of Education. DO-IT is a collaboration of UW Information Technology and the Colleges of Engineering and Education at the University of Washington.

To order free publications or newsletters use the DO-IT Publications Order Form; to order videos and training materials use the Videos, Books and Comprehensive Training Materials Order Form.

For further information, to be placed on the DO-IT mailing list, request materials in an alternate format, or to make comments or suggestions about DO-IT publications or web pages contact:

University of Washington
Box 354842
Seattle, WA 98195-4842
206-685-DOIT (3648) (voice/TTY)
888-972-DOIT (3648) (voice/TTY)
206-221-4171 (fax)
509-328-9331 (voice/TTY) Spokane

Founder and Director: Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D.

DO-IT Funding and Partners


This program and publication were supported by Visio Corporation, the U.S. Department of Education (FIPSE Grant #P116D990138?01) and the National Science Foundation (Cooperative Agreement #0227995). Any questions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the federal government.

Copyright © 2012, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, University of Washington. Permission is granted to copy these materials for educational, noncommercial purposes provided the source is acknowledged.